As Temperatures Rise, So Do Energy Costs
With temperatures rising, the economic cost to cover utility energy alone will face steep increases. Combined with pre-existing inequality, the poorest parts of the Southeast will also face some of the largest economic losses out of the entire United States.
Utility Money Leaving Athens
Currently, Athenians spend approximately $323,000,000 per year on electricity, natural gas, and transportation fuels; the majority of this spending leaves the region to support fossil fuel procurement and remote utility infrastructure. A transition to renewable energy provides an opportunity for Athens to grow its economy, and also help us keep our dollars within Athens. So what would a green economy look like in Georgia, and in Athens?
Georgia’s Renewable Landscape
- Georgia is 5th in the nation in 2019 in solar, with 1.5 MW of installed. (SEIA)
- Solar jobs increased by 30% in 2019, the highest rate of increase in the nation.
- There are 270 solar companies in Georgia.
- There are 4,798 solar jobs in the state of Georgia.
Athens Clean and Renewable Potential
Clean energy economic benefits:
- Lower utility & maintenance cost
- Increased social equity as economic driver
- Lower housing cost (increased total affordability
As part of the Clean and Renewable Action Plan (CEP) implementation planning process, Greenlink Analytics is analyzing cost-benefit scenarios that could get ACCGov to 100% clean energy by 2035. The model highlights how a clean energy transition will support job creation, healthcare savings, and reductions in carbon emissions in the Athens community. The model outlines two CEP priorities for ACCGov:
- Promoting equitable and affordable clean energy options
- Leading first with energy efficiency before ramping up local production of renewable energy.
Achieving these dramatic reductions in carbon emissions means that we must both reduce the demand for energy by improving the overall efficiency of homes, workplaces, and the transportation sector, as well as supply renewable and carbon-free energy to meet the remaining demand.
Athens Current Solar Landscape
This gif shows the growing amount of solar installations from 2007-2020, including residential, non residential, and utility.
Below shows data collected that highlights the growing trend in solar rooftop installations within Athens-Clarke County, both residential and non-residential.
- Total Installations – 104
- Residential – 78% (81 installations)
- Non-Residential – 19% (20 installations)
- Utility – 3% (3 installations)
- Total kW Capacity – 3,320 kW or 3.32 MW
- Residential – 11% (355 kW)
- Non-Residential – 55% (1,839 kW)
- Utility – 34% (1,126 kW)
- Installations by Year
- 2008 – 2010 – 10% (10 installations)
- 2010 – 2015 – 21% (22 installations)
- 2015 – 2019 – 69% (72 installations)
- This data is from 2019 and does not include the recent Solarize Athens 2.0.
- Source: GeorgiaEnergyData.org, Southface Institute
Interested in what solar capacity your home might have? You can check out Google’s Project Sunroof to give yourself a rough estimate for solar potential for your own house.
Positive Impacts on Local Businesses
Many studies of existing cost-effective conservation programs found that energy efficiency potential exceeds 20% of current energy consumption. Applying this range to Athens implies that residents and businesses combined could save $40 to $50 million per year on energy costs. Direct energy savings are dollars that remain in the community and can be reinvested locally.
If ACCGov implements programs, like the Community Energy Fund designed to promote incentives that help residents and businesses move towards widespread energy savings, the economic development potential related to jobs retrofitting and refurbishing buildings are substantial, potentially supporting more than 200 jobs per year.
Sources: ACEEE and GLA Energy Resource Coordination RFP Analysis
Greenlink Analytics Energy Pathway Tool for Athens
Greenlink Analytics Energy Pathway Tool for Athens There are many pathways for Athens to achieve 100% clean and renewable energy by 2035, through different levels of investments in solar energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transportation options. This tool was created by Greenlink Analytics to help create an understanding of what transitioning to Clean and Renewable energy within Athens could look like by 2035. It allows users to design clean energy pathways and highlights the potential costs and benefits associated with the economic, community, environment, and public health savings from these pathways. You can see an example here: if Athens achieved 100% of its energy efficiency and solar potential across the County, the results of reaching those goals can be seen here.