Illinois could meet 94 percent of its Clean Power Plan target through efficiency, according to calculations from the ACEEE.

Midwest states can make significant strides toward meeting Clean Power Plan goals through energy efficiency, according to a new calculator developed by an advocacy organization.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just released the State and Utility Pollution Reduction Calculator Version 2, or SUPR 2. The calculator incorporates final Clean Power Plan requirements while offering users a choice of 19 policies and technologies. These include energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear power, emissions control and natural gas.

SUPR 2 shows users how much different scenarios cost and how far they go to helping states reach compliance. Estimates for Midwest states show efficiency achieving 88 percent of Michigan’s target, up to 100 percent for Minnesota.

“We wanted to highlight the variety of energy efficiency policy options that you can choose from,” said Cassandra Kubes, who developed the calculator with two colleagues at ACEEE.

Users can deploy building energy codes or energy service (or savings) company programs, combined heat and power systems and behavioral programs, Kubes said.

One section even offers the option of reducing pollution at a 500 megawatt (MW) coal plant by one or more changes, among them switching from coal to natural gas; selective catalytic reduction; emission control technology nitrogen oxide (NOx); flue-gas desulfurization to remove sulfur dioxide; and carbon sequestration.

Every efficiency approach in the calculator is allowable under the EPA’s guidelines, Kubes said.

Several strategies focus on energy efficiency, which is “generally a lower cost way to get at energy reduction,” she said. “It does look at each state individually. There are some state specific information in assumptions, and we put all of that in the User Guide for people to look at and get down to the nitty-gritty details.”

The 29 page guide goes into great detail and research on what assumptions and costs the calculator makes, Kubes said.

The results from SUPR 2 can be incorporated into other compliance tools, among them Synapse Energy Economics Inc.’s Clean Power Plan Planning Tool (CP3T) and M.J. Bradley & Associates’ Clean Power Plan Evaluation Tools.

Kubes pointed out that policies many states have in place will go a long way toward complying with the Clean Power Plan. The calculator is a nice tool for envisioning a low carbon future, she added, but it does not replace the hard thinking states and utilities will have to do to change their energy sources to a cleaner mix.

“These are just first order of magnitude estimates,” she said. “They are not stand-ins for more detailed modeling that states will want to pursue to see their options for compliance.”


Frank is an independent journalist and consultant based in St. Paul and a longtime contributor to Midwest Energy News. His articles have appeared in more than 50 publications, including Minnesota Monthly, Wired, the Los Angeles Times, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota Technology, Finance & Commerce and others. Frank has also been a Humphrey policy fellow at the University of Minnesota, a Fulbright journalism teacher in Pakistan and Albania, and a program director of the World Press Institute at Macalester College. Frank covers the state of Minnesota.