TODAY’S STUDY: The Public Health Benefits Of New Energy
Public Health Benefits per kWh of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy in the United States: A Technical Report
July 2019 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
EPA has developed a set of values that help state and local government policymakers and other stakeholders estimate the monetized public health benefits of investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) using methods consistent with those EPA uses for health benefits analyses at the federal level. It’s important to note that EPA is continually reviewing methods and assumptions for quantifying public health benefits. The values presented here and the associated documentation will be updated as appropriate to reflect any future changes in methods or assumptions.
When to use benefits-per-kWh screening values?
Benefits per kilowatt-hour (BPK) values are reasonable approximations of the health benefits of state EE/RE investments that can be used for preliminary analysis when comparing across state and local policy scenarios to indicate direction and relative magnitude.
Examples of analyses where it would be appropriate to use them include:
• Estimating the public health benefits of regional, state, or local-level investments in EE/RE projects, programs, and policies
• Understanding the cost-effectiveness of regional, state, or local-level EE projects, programs, and measures
• Incorporating health benefits in short-term regional, state, or local policy analyses and decision-making
When not to use benefits-per-kWh values?
BPK values are not a substitute for sophisticated analysis and should not be used to justify or inform federal regulatory decisions. They are based on data inputs, assumptions, and methods that approximate the dynamics of energy, environment, and health interactions and include uncertainties and limitations, as documented in the technical report.
Benefits-per-kWh screening values
EPA used a peer reviewed methodology and tools to develop a set of screening-level regional estimates of the dollar benefits per kilowatt-hour from four different types of EE/RE initiatives.
• Uniform Energy Efficiency - Energy efficiency programs, projects, and measures that achieve a constant level of savings over time,
• Peak Energy Efficiency - Energy efficiency programs, projects, and measures that achieve savings during 12pm-6pm when energy demand is high (i.e. peak),
• Solar Energy – Programs, projects, and measures that increase the supply of solar energy available (e.g. utility-scale and rooftop solar generation), and
• Wind Energy – Programs, projects, and measures that increase the supply of wind available (e.g. wind turbines).
Understanding the Values
EPA created BPK values using existing tools, including EPA’s AVoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT) and CO-Benefits Risk Assessment (COBRA) Health Impacts Screening and Mapping Tool. BPK values are:
• Available for each of the four project types for each of the ten AVERT regions shown in the map below
• Based on 2017 electricity generation data and emissions, population, baseline mortality incidence rate, and income growth projections
• Presented in 2017 dollars and reflecting the use of either a 3% or a 7% discount rate as recommended by EPA’s Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analyses (2010)
• Calculated using the same health impact functions EPA uses for regulatory impact analyses, including the calculation of low estimates of mortality using health impact functions that assume people are not very sensitive to changes in PM2.5 levels and high estimates of mortality using functions that assume people are more sensitive to changes in PM2.5
How to use BPK values?
States and communities interested in having screening-level estimation of outdoor air qualityrelated health impacts of energy efficiency or renewable energy can multiply the BPK values, presented in Table ES. 1 in cents per kilowatt hour, by the number of kWh saved from EE or generated from RE to estimate potential health benefits from projects in dollars saved. Users should keep in mind there are uncertainties associated with any modeled estimates when interpreting or reporting results…
State and local governments are increasingly interested in quantifying the public health value of emissions reductions from EE/RE so that they can fully reflect these benefits in policy decisionmaking processes. Some studies have quantified the benefits but have used different approaches and assumptions, making it difficult for others to adopt or credibly compare the health benefits estimates on a per-kWh basis.
EPA has developed regional-level BPK screening values to further these analyses and fill the gap for this type of analysis in the literature. By using the AVERT and COBRA tools, EPA developed regional BPK values for uniform EE, EE at peak, wind, and solar projects, programs, and policies, which incorporate the benefits of SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 emissions reductions. Although results vary by region, on average,
EPA found that EE/RE programs delivered benefits of 1.7¢/kWh to 3.9¢/kWh in the United States in 2017 (using a 3 percent discount rate). EPA believes that these health benefit screening values may be useful to a wide range of stakeholders seeking to estimate the public health benefits of EE/RE projects, programs, and policies, including state PUCs, SEOs, policymakers, financial institutions, EE/RE developers, state and local public health administrators, NGOs, and the general public…