Study: cost of energy-efficiency programs ‘substantially outweigh the benefits’

And the study’s authors didn’t expect that result, to put it mildly. As reported by Environment & Energy Publishing:

“We were surprised, to be perfectly frank,” said co-author Catherine Wolfram, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “The perception is that energy efficiency is not just the low-hanging fruit, but the fruit already fallen on the ground, waiting to be picked up. The free lunch you’re paid to eat.”

This brand-new study from the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute found that “Even when accounting for the broader societal benefits of energy efficiency investments, the costs still substantially outweigh the benefits.”

The study’s abstract begins by noting the “conventional wisdom” their findings overturn: “that energy efficiency (EE) policies are beneficial because they induce investments that pay for themselves and lead to emissions reductions.”

That conventional wisdom was why the General Assembly in 2007 didn’t even debate the need for the energy-efficiency portion of what became the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standards (REPS) mandate.

Jon Sanders / Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies

Jon Sanders studies regulatory policy, a veritable kudzu of invasive government and unintended consequences. As director of regulatory studies at the John Locke Foundation, Jo...