EIA: wind most cost-effective option for Clean Power Plan compliance


Share of Lowest Cost Compliance Mix in 2030. EIA finds that wind energy accounts for the majority of the economically-optimal CPP compliance mix, noting “EIA’s analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) shows that renewables play a critical role under a range of different market conditions and policy assumptions.”

Editor’s Note: AWEA recently released its report on the findings of EIA’s May 2015 “Analysis of the Impacts of the Clean Power Plan.” The introduction is presented here, interpreting what the analysis means for the future of the wind industry in the U.S.

The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) analysis of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) represents the most in-depth and comprehensive CPP economic modeling effort to date. While some of its national results have already been widely cited and discussed, the surprising regional and scenario results have not yet been examined in detail. Major findings that have not been widely discussed include:

  • EIA finds that wind energy plays by far the largest role in the lowest cost energy portfolio for CPP compliance, with significant wind energy deployment in nearly all regions.
  • Recent declines in the cost of wind energy, coupled with wind’s valuable role in protecting against increases in the price of natural gas, make wind energy the lowest cost compliance option for nearly all regions.
  • Using zero-emission wind energy provides states with valuable flexibility that allows far less drastic changes to the generation mix than using a resource with some emissions. For example, using natural gas would require the replacement of nearly twice as much coal generation to achieve the same level of emissions reductions, leading to significantly more coal plant retirements in EIA’s analysis, than using zero-emission wind energy.
  • Wind energy emerges as the most economical compliance choice across a wide range of scenarios in EIA’s analysis, indicating wind energy should be viewed as a “no regrets” solution for meeting the Clean Power Plan.

Based on these findings, states, utilities and grid operators should begin planning today for the policies and transmission upgrades that will enable them to use their best wind energy resources for Clean Power Plan compliance.


EIA Projection for Additional Wind Build by 2025 under CPP Scenario, by Region. EIA finds wind energy plays a large role in cost-effective CPP compliance in nearly all regions. EIA’s analysis used a regional and not state-level model, so this is the most granular level at which results are reported. Moreover, these results do not show that many Southeast utilities appear to be importing wind energy in EIA’s analysis.

To read AWEA’s report in its entirety, click here. For the original analysis by EIA, click here.

American Wind Energy Association

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