The presidential “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” executive order signed on Tuesday was positioned as a way for the federal government to not be forced to choose between environmental protection and economic development. On Sunday, U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt prefaced the order’s release, saying the order and the policies it promotes would be “pro-jobs and pro-environment.”
If these are the goals, then the focus should be on recognizing the economic benefits of clean energy and, in particular, the thousands of good jobs that are created through energy efficiency.
The Midwest has become a great example of bipartisan cooperation in clean energy policy. In our region, state Republican political majorities dominate the landscape. At the same time, the Midwest has seen a 225 percent increase in electric energy efficiency investment since 2008; $1 billion was invested in electric and natural gas energy efficiency in 2010 and grew to $1.8 billion last year.
In 2016, MEEA commissioned The Cadmus Group to complete a modeled forecast of the economic impacts derived from 2014 utility investments in energy efficiency. The study focused on four areas: 1) MEEA’s 13-state Midwest Region; 2) Indiana; 3) Michigan; and 4) Ohio and identified the economic impacts from a single-year of investments during the first year and over the course of a 25-year forecast.
Over a 25-year period, the 2014 programs alone are estimated to:
- Create nearly 105,000 Midwestern jobs
- Increase regional income by almost $8.8 billion
- Generate about $23 billion in regional sales
- Add over $13.7 billion in regional economic value
It is increasingly important for policymakers, utilities and stakeholders to understand the positive regional and statewide economic impacts that come from investing in cost-effective energy efficiency. Over the past four years, numerous states in our region debated statewide energy policy that could roll-back or significantly reduce utility-driven energy efficiency. What they recognized were not only the environmental benefits, but also the potential economic impacts of energy efficiency policies. Accordingly, they have taken decisive actions to maintain or improve clean energy standards.
For further evidence of the Midwest’s bipartisan support recognizing the value of clean energy and energy efficiency, below are recent statements from a few Midwestern governors to note.
- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed an energy package into law that is expected to drive increased energy savings. In doing so, Governor Snyder said: “This legislation will make it easier for our state to meet its energy needs while protecting our environment and saving Michiganders millions on their energy bills.”
- Ohio Governor John Kasich recently demonstrated his commitment to energy efficiency when he vetoed an attempt by Ohio legislators to roll back the progress of clean energy resource standards. In support of his veto, Governor Kasich wrote: “Ohio workers cannot afford to take a step backward from the economic gains that we have made in recent years, however, and arbitrarily limiting Ohio’s energy generation options amounts to self-inflicted damage to both our state’s near- and long-term economic competitiveness.”
- Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed energy legislation into law which promises to expand the opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects throughout the state. In doing so, Governor Rauner committed to investing in good paying jobs and energy diversity, allowing the state “to protect jobs, ratepayers and taxpayers.”
Again, if the goal is to be both pro-jobs and pro-environment, look no further than energy efficiency which is the low cost solution to job creation, energy savings and environmental benefits in our communities.
Stacey Paradis is the executive director of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.