Many states have implemented, or are considering, legislative or regulatory efforts to incentivize implementation of energy efficiency programs and renewable energy (EE/RE). States have sought guidance from EPA on assessing the pollution benefits of such programs—reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The reduction of NOx and SO2 is relevant to state compliance with applicable national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). The reduction of CO2 may be relevant to an upcoming EPA rule—due for proposal in June—establishing new source performance standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.
On February 18, EPA released a new tool called the Avoided Emissions and generation Tool (AVERT). The stated purpose of AVERT is to help states show how their EE/RE programs assist in compliance with NAAQS for NOx and SO2. The tool does not estimate how much an EE/RE program reduces electric demand. Instead, states can predict reduced emissions of NOx and SO2 resulting from a given amount of reduced demand from an EE program, or a given amount of RE-generated electricity. Because the tool can also be used to predict CO2 emission reductions from assumed amount of EE/RE electrical demand reductions, it also might be useful in providing the guidance states have been seeking for use of EE/RE programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.