Study finds when utilities add renewables consumer costs drop

South Carolina and Tennessee fall into the lagging renewable states category above, meaning residents pay more for power, in part because of the lack of renewable sources in local utility portfolios. (© DBL Investors)

U.S. News & World Report recently shared an analysis that shows states with the highest share of electricity generation from renewable energy sources pay less for power. These findings confirm what many believe: increasing renewables will bring down customers' electricity bills. 

With the EPA set to issue final rules this summer for its Clean Power Plan to cut power plant emissions, there has been greater scrutiny of the costs associated with increasing utilities' percentage of renewable power sources, like wind and solar. Along with that scrutiny have come opposing claims about how these new regulations would affect certain populations, particularly low-income families and senior citizens.

To answer this question, DBL Investors compared the 10 states with the most and the 10 states with the least renewably-sourced energy against the national average. What DBL Investors found was that states with the highest percentage of renewables actually saw the smallest increase in their electricity costs over a 10-year period. Meanwhile, states with the least renewable energy paid significantly more than average. Notably, both Tennessee and South Carolina are in the bottom 10 states.

This finding refutes the claim made by industry opponents of the Clean Power Plan that requiring reduced emissions and increased renewable energy sources will drive up electricity costs, particularly for those least able to pay.

"As clean energy takes off, it is critical to understand how electricity prices have fared," wrote the report's authors, Nancy Pfund and Anand Chhabra. "On average, states that have led on renewables over the past ten years have had cheaper average retail electricity than both the national average and states that lag ingeneration from renewables."

The full report from DBL Investors, a San Franscisco-based venture capital firm specializing in renewable energy, is available here.

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