In 2016 less than 4 percent of consumers’ spending was used to pay for energy, a record low for the country, thanks to energy efficiency, renewable energy and natural gas. That’s according to the 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, which found retail electric prices fell 2.2 percent from 2015. The report was released today (Feb. 8) by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The company produced the report, the fifth annual, for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).
“The contributions of sustainable energy to the country’s economic competitiveness are direct, dramatic and dynamic,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the BCSE. “The trend lines in the 2017 Factbook are clear: energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy are benefitting American consumers, American businesses and American manufacturers. And that adds up to one conclusion: clean energy wins for America.”
Indeed, the report, based on US energy statistics, found that renewable energy deployment hit record levels in 2016 as wind and solar costs continued to fall. In some states, they were actually the cheapest source of energy, according to the report. In fact, with 244 gigawatts installed across the country, renewable energy is now a prominent part of the US electric infrastructure, produce 22 percent of its electric supply, an 83 percent increase over 2007 levels, the report found.
US consumers are now paying, on average, 3.9 percent less per kilowatt-hour for electricity than they were a decade ago, according to the factbook. During that period the amount of renewable energy and natural gas grew to 50 percent of the US’s electricity supply, from only 30 percent. Not only have energy prices reached historic lows, greenhouse gas emissions plummeted to their lowest levels in 25 years, the report found.
“The U.S. continues to use energy more efficiently and with lower CO2 emissions, while at the same time cutting consumer spending,” said Colleen Regan, Head of Environmental Markets and Cross-sector Research at BNEF. “2016 offered further proof that we can decarbonize and grow our economy, all without raising customer bills.”
“Two thousand sixteen marked yet another monumental year in the energy sector, as the transformation in how the US produces and consumes energy continued to play out,” BNEF stated. “The rapid pace of renewable energy deployment accelerated, consumption and export of domestic natural gas hit record levels, and the economy grew more energy efficient than ever. In the face of all this change, Americans are enjoying lower energy bills, directing less of their household income to energy spending than at any other time on record.”
The factbook also found the US’s gross domestic production (GDP) expanded by 12 percent in 2016. Yet, despite that hallmark increase, thanks to energy efficiency advancements, the US’s energy consumption fell by 4 percent over the same period.
The factbook is further evidence that investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency are paying off in the US. The report shows they result in a stronger economy, with less expensive energy and cleaner air.Tweet