An aggressive shift to 100% renewable energy could produce up to US$321 billion for American ratepayers, or an average $2,500 per household per year, while slashing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new analysis by Rewiring America.
“If we electrify everything, the savings are more than enough to return money to households,” said Executive Director Adam Zurofsky. “Too often, we are told doing the right thing for the environment requires sacrifice and costs more. But no one is talking about the upside—we can actually make a better economy and save people money, and a byproduct will be to cut emissions from residential buildings.”
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “has vowed to eliminate greenhouse gases from the U.S. power grid within 15 years and essentially zero out emissions by 2050,” The Guardian reports. But with more than 40% of energy-related emissions tied to homes, the Rewiring America study “finds that households would benefit financially from a complete switch to clean energy sources such as solar and wind.”
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While those investments would entail an up-front cost, Rewiring America says the long-term savings and emissions reductions warrant government backing for a faster shift.
“Much of the savings are derived from reducing the wasted energy involved in digging up and delivering fossil fuel-based power to homes,” The Guardian explains, citing the report. “By taking measures such as backing mortgage-style payments for solar panels to lessen reliance upon the grid, the federal government can make it ‘dirt cheap’ for people to switch to renewables.”
Louisiana State University energy and environment specialist Brian Snyder said it would be a challenge to ramp up U.S. rooftop solar to the extent envisioned in the Rewiring America analysis. But Zurofsky said the report was based on U.S. government estimates of the technical potential.
“That does not mean it will be easy to do or that we won’t have to stretch our existing capacities to make it happen,” he told The Guardian. But the analysis still showed “what the future can look like if we are motivated to make it so.”