Conserving Southern Energy

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


According to a new study, upgrading energy efficiency (new appliance standards, incentives for retrofitting and weatherization, upgrades to utility plants) in the southern US in the next 20 years could:

  • Save consumers $41 billion on their energy bills.
  • Open 380,000 new jobs.
  • Save 8.6 billion gallons of water by 2020.

The South uses more energy per capita than elsewhere in the US and every dollar invested in efficiency there over the next 20 years will reap $2.25 in benefits. Currently, the 36 percent of Americans who live in the south consume 44 percent of the nation’s energy, while supplying 48 percent of the nation’s power. Energy efficiency has lagged in the South, where low electricity rates have encouraged consumption, energy-efficient products have not penetrated the market as much as other parts of the country, and states have spent less per capita on efficiency programs than the national average.

Researchers from Duke U and the Georgia Institute of Technology modeled the interaction of nine efficiency policies for residential, commercial, and industrial energy use over 20 years in the District of Columbia and 16 southern states. They found that without improvements in energy efficiency, the South will use 15 percent more energy by 2030. But aggressive energy efficiency initiatives would:

  • Reduce overall utility bills by $41 billion a year in 2020 and $71 billion in 2030.
  • Reduce average residential electricity bills by $26 per month in 2020 and $50 per month in 2030.
  • Reduce the need for new power plants, retiring nearly 25 gigawatts of older power plants, while avoiding the construction of up to 50 gigawatts of new plants (equal to the amount of electricity produced by 100 power plants).
  • Conserve water by reducing power plant capacity, saving the South 8.6 billion gallons of fresh water in 2020 and 20.1 billion gallons in 2030.

The report Energy Efficiency in the South is open access online, including a state-by-state breakdown.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate