INSTITUTE INDEX: Green New Deal could help close the South's energy efficiency gap

Harry and Helen Hemingway of Marion County, South Carolina, were experiencing electric bills of between $200 and $500 a month when they decided to upgrade their windows to make their home more energy-efficient. Such energy- and money-saving efforts could get a boost from the proposed Green New Deal. (Photo by Marcela Gara, Resource Media, via the EE Image Database on Flickr.)

Date on which U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Edward Markey, Democrats representing New York and Massachusetts respectively, introduced a nonbinding resolution outlining a Green New Deal — a public works program that would employ Americans in clean-energy jobs in order to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions and curb human-caused climate change: 2/7/2019

Year by which the resolution aims for net-zero carbon emissions through strategies including upgrading all existing buildings to meet energy efficiency standards: 2030

Energy efficiency's rank among the largest electricity resources in the U.S.: 3rd

Its rank among the lowest-cost ways to meet people's energy needs and reduce energy insecurity, which is defined as the inability to adequately meet basic household energy needs: 1

Percent of Americans overall who experience energy insecurity: around 30

Percent of low-income people, African Americans, and Native Americans who do, respectively: 51, 52, 62

Factor by which the number of jobs created by investing in energy-efficient building retrofits surpasses the number created by investing the same amount in the oil and gas sector: about 3

Rank of the Southeast* among U.S. regions where electric utilities currently perform the worst on energy efficiency: 1

Percent average of utilities' annual efficiency savings nationwide in 2017: 0.69

In the Southeast: 0.29

In Alabama, which came in last: 0.04

In North Carolina, which was the only Southeastern state to surpass the national average: 0.75

North Carolina-based Duke Energy's annual percent efficiency savings, making it the Southeast's best utility performer: 1

Year in which North Carolina adopted a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard that includes a carveout for efficiency, a policy that experts say contributed to the state's above-average performance for the region: 2007

Year in which a settlement agreement was reached as part of the corporate merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy that included a 1 percent energy savings target, which experts say also helped the company become a regional efficiency leader, along with utility management leadership and robust stakeholder engagement: 2011

But in a plan that could work against additional energy efficiency gains, gigawatts of new natural gas-fired plants Duke Energy wants to build over the next 15 years — a plan that came under strong criticism in a public hearing this week: 9.5

On the day the Green New Deal resolution was introduced, number of co-sponsors it already had in the House and Senate, respectively: 67, 11

Number of those co-sponsors who represent Southeastern states in the House and Senate, respectively: 4, 0

* The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which conducted the referenced analysis, counts the following seven states as part of the Southeast: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

(Click on figure to go to source.)