Energy Efficiency and Onsite Renewables Can Help Address Electricity Concerns in Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth Areas

September 27, 2007

Washington, D.C. — Energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy (EE/RE) can meet most of the projected electricity needs over the next 15 years in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston areas — Texas’ two largest metro areas that account for about half of the state’s population and electricity consumption. By investing in EE/RE rather than building new power plants, these regions and the state as a whole can stimulate the economy by creating net new jobs and avoid exacerbating existing air quality problems.

The two reports on the impacts of EE/RE on Texas — Role of Energy Efficiency and Onsite Renewables in Meeting Energy and Environmental Needs in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston/Galveston Metro Areas and The Economic Benefits of an Energy Efficiency and Onsite Renewable Energy Strategy to Meet Growing Electricity Needs in Texas — were released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy (ACEEE). These studies build upon an ACEEE report released last March that examined the statewide impacts of a suite of EE/RE policies that showed Texas could meet most of its projected needs for electricity while also addressing concerns about peak demand.

“The Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Houston metro areas are the most rapidly growing regions in Texas, which is among the fastest growing states in the United States,” said ACEEE Research Analyst Maggie Eldridge who coauthored both reports. “Electricity use in DFW is growing 11% faster than the state, while the greater Houston area is growing 37% faster than the state.  Given this rapid growth, there is a great opportunity for the metro regions to expand their EE/RE policies to meet the rising energy demands. The policies recommended in this report would meet 24% of the forecasted electricity demands in DFW and 21% in Houston by 2023.”

"The Texas Legislature included a few of our recommended policies in their energy bill this year, but needs to do more in the next session," said Neal Elliott, ACEEE's Industrial Program Director and report co-author. "The state doesn't, however, have to wait until the 2009 legislative session to continue to realize the benefits of energy efficiency. Two-thirds of the potential savings in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and over half of the savings in the Houston area can be realized by local government action. In many cases, local authorities may be more effective than state policies from Austin.”

In particular, local leadership on combined heat and power, onsite renewables, and buildings represent significant opportunities. Frameworks already exist at the state level for these policy areas, so all that is required is a commitment at the local level. In particular, many of the large firms in the region may be important allies as they can provide both important energy efficiency opportunities and support for local policies that help ensure adequate electricity supplies, contain future electricity cost increases, and reduce environmental pressures.

Investments in energy efficiency and onsite renewable energy would not only meet future energy needs, but they also would create new jobs by encouraging investments at the local level and by recycling the energy savings in the local economy. Statewide, the recommended policies would create about 38,300 net new jobs in 2023. This is roughly equivalent to the employment that would be directly and indirectly supported by the construction and operation of 300 average manufacturing plants within Texas. This translates into over 11,000 new jobs in each of the metro areas.

“By becoming energy efficiency leaders, local governments can show fiduciary responsibility with taxpayers’ dollars, while at the same time setting an example for individual consumers and businesses to step up to the plate in adopting energy efficiency practices,” said Steve Nadel, ACEEE’s Executive Director. “These policies not only can meet most of the projected growth in electricity needs over the next 15 years, but also could result in net consumer electricity expenditure savings of $37 billion statewide over that period while sustaining the economic engines that are the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston metro areas.”

Role of Energy Efficiency and Onsite Renewables in Meeting Energy and Environmental Needs in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston/Galveston Metro Areas (research-report/e078 or purchase for $20) and The Economic Benefits of an Energy Efficiency and Onsite Renewable Energy Strategy to Meet Growing Electricity Needs in Texas (research-report/e076 or $16), along with the earlier March report, Potential for Energy Efficiency, Demand Response, and Onsite Renewable Energy to Meet Texas's Growing Electricity Demands (research-report/e073 or $50) can be downloaded for free or purchased at the price mentioned above plus $5 postage and handling from ACEEE Publications, 529 14th St, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, phone: 202-507-4000, fax: 202-429-2248, e-mail: aceee_publications@aceee.org.