ENERGY EFFICIENCY EQUALS ECONOMIC
The Economics of Public Utility System Benefit Funds
Published by Entergy Corp.
June 1, 2008
$1 million investment in low-income energy efficiency produces economic benefits 34 times its value, including 337 jobs -- triple the impact of tax breaks to attract manufacturing. [State data are available.]
Reducing energy use in low-income homes can lower poverty levels and is one of the most potent tools states have for stimulating the economy.
Funds spent on programs to make low-income homes more energy efficient in the Entergy service territory return 23 times the economic value of the initial investment.
The study takes into account the programs impact of reducing the use of fossil fuels, which helps the environment. It also includes in its economic calculations the non-energy benefits the programs create by helping cut poverty -- such as reduced fires, lower crime rates, less homelessness and improved health.
Every $1 million invested in low-income home weatherization and efficiency programs produces 23 times the economic activity including creation of 216
jobs across the region served by Entergys utilities.
The study explains low-income home energy efficiency is more than the casual tacking up of some weatherstripping and screwing in a few light bulbs. It is a systematic search for inefficiency, based on building science, coupled with professional installation measures to counter the inefficiency. The process begins with a thorough building audit that may employ such technology as appliance meters, blower doors, and infrared cameras in order to detect inefficient appliances and leaks of conditioned air. The next step would be to replace inefficient appliances and use of advanced materials to better insulate homes and eliminate air leaks.
Energy costs hit low-income households disproportionately, according to the study. For example, some elderly who live on fixed incomes spend as much as 35 percent of their annual income for energy bills. The study also contains data showing poverty levels are increasing, sharply in some areas served by Entergys utilities.
Among their findings:
" Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest percentage of children living in poverty among the states, ranking 50 and 49, respectively. Arkansas and Texas tie for 44th place in the listings.
" Hunger is rampant in states served by Entergy. More than 18 percent of people in Mississippi do not have enough to eat, placing it 51st in the rankings. Texas followed at 49, with Louisiana at 45 and Arkansas at 44.
" The gap between the rich and poor is widening. Income concentration among the top 1 percent is the greatest since 1929.