EIA says the cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which covers roughly 84 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions by 2016, is in many respects the centerpiece of the bill and the primary driver of the results presented in this report. The program subjects covered emissions to a cap that declines steadily between 2012 and 2050. The cap requires a 17- percent reduction in covered emissions by 2020 and an 83-percent reduction by 2050, both relative to a 2005 baseline. The cumulative GHG emissions covered by the Title III cap-and-trade program over the 2012 to 2030 period are estimated to be 113.4 billion metric tons (BMT) in CO2-equivalent terms.
EIA lists the key provisions of ACES that are represented in the policy cases developed in this analysis include: the GHG cap-and-trade program for gases other than HFCs, including provisions for the allocation of allowances to electricity and natural gas distribution utilities, low-income consumers, State efficiency programs, rebate programs, energy-intensive industries, and other specified purposes; the combined efficiency and renewable electricity standard for electricity sellers; the carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration and early deployment program; Federal building code updates for both residential and commercial buildings; Federal efficiency standards for lighting and other appliances; technology improvements driven by the Centers for Energy and Environmental Knowledge and Outreach; and the smart grid peak savings program.
EIA prepared a range of analysis cases for the report. The six main analysis cases discussed in the Executive Summary, while not exhaustive, focus on two key areas of uncertainty that impact the analysis results: The role of offsets is a large area of uncertainty in any analysis of ACES; and the other major area of uncertainty in assessing the energy system and economic impacts of ACES involves the timing, cost, and public acceptance of low- and no-carbon technologies. Several key findings include:
- Given the potential of offsets as a low-cost compliance option, the amount of reduction in covered emissions is exceeded by the amount of compliance generated through offsets in most of the main analysis cases. Cumulative compliance between 2012 and 2030, including reductions both in domestic emissions of covered gases and in domestic and international offsets, ranges from 24.4 BMT to 37.6 BMT carbon dioxide (CO2)-equivalent emissions in the main analysis cases, representing a 21-percent to 33-percent reduction from the level of cumulative covered emissions projected in the Reference Case.
- The vast majority of reductions in energy-related emissions are expected to occur in the electric power sector. Across the ACES main cases, the electricity sector accounts for between 80 percent and 88 percent of the total reduction in energy-related CO2 emissions relative to the Reference Case in 2030.
- If new nuclear, renewable, and fossil plants with CCS are not developed and deployed in a timeframe consistent with emissions reduction requirements under ACES, covered entities are expected to respond by increasing their use of offsets, if available, and by turning to increased natural gas use to offset reductions in coal generation.
- Emissions reductions from changes in fossil fuel use in the residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors are small relative to those in the electric power sector. Taken together, changes in fossil fuel use in these sectors account for between 12 percent and 20 percent of the total reduction in energy-related CO2 emissions relative to the Reference Case in 2030.
- GHG allowance prices are sensitive to the cost and availability of emissions offsets and low-and no-carbon generating technologies. Allowance prices in the ACES Basic Case are projected at $32 per metric ton in 2020 and $65 per metric ton in 2030. Across all main analysis cases, allowance prices range from $20 to $93 per metric ton in 2020 and from $41 to $191 (2007 dollars) per metric ton in 2030 (Figure ES-3). The lower prices in the range occur in cases where technological options such as CCS and adoption of new nuclear power plants can be deployed on a large scale before 2030 at relatively low costs.
- ACES increases energy prices, but effects on electricity and natural gas bills of consumers are substantially mitigated through 2025 by the allocation of free allowances to regulated electricity and natural gas distribution companies. Except for the ACES No International/Limited Case, electricity prices in five of the six main ACES cases range from 9.5 to 9.6 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2020, only 3 to 4 percent above the Reference Case level. Average impacts on electricity prices in 2030 are projected to be substantially greater, reflecting both higher allowance prices and the phase-out of the free allocation of allowances to distributors between 2025 and 2030. By 2030, electricity prices in the ACES Basic Case are 12.0 cents per kilowatt-hour, 19 percent above the Reference Case level, with a wider band of 11.1 cents to 17.8 cents (10 to 77 percent above the Reference Case level) across all six main policy cases.
ACES increases the cost of using energy, which reduces real economic output, reduces purchasing power, and lowers aggregate demand for goods and services. The result is that projected real gross domestic product (GDP) generally falls relative to the Reference Case. Total discounted GDP losses over the 2012 to 2030 time period are $566 billion (-0.3 percent) in the ACES Basic Case, with a range from $432 billion (-0.2 percent) to $1,897 billion (-0.9 percent) across the main ACES cases.
Consumption and energy bill impacts can also be expressed on a per household basis in particular years. In 2020, the reduction in household consumption is $114 (2007 dollars) in the ACES Basic Case, with a range of $26 to $308 across all main ACES cases. In 2030, household consumption is reduced by $288 in the ACES Basic Case, with a range of $133 to $722 per household across all main ACES cases.
The report notes that the modeling horizon for this analysis ends in 2030. Unless substantial progress is made in identifying low- and no-carbon technologies outside of electricity generation, the ACES emissions targets for the 2030-to-2050 period are likely to be very challenging as opportunities for further reductions in power sector emissions are exhausted and reductions in other sectors are thought to be more expensive.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) issued a release say the EIA report indicates that "for $83 per year per household – or a dime a day per person we can solve climate change, invest in a clean energy future, and save billions in imported oil." EDF indicated that the EIA analysis "has similar findings to two other impartial and substantive studies done recently, from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Congressional Budget Office." EDF said, "This analysis confirms what every other credible study has found, and it -- once again -- refutes the widely reported scare tactics about the cost of the cap and trade bill. Opponents of action will always try to cherry-pick the numbers and use models with biased assumptions. The EPA, EIA and CBO are the non-biased standard for economic analysis."
Access the complete report or individual sections as well as spreadsheets and appendices (click here). Access the EDF release (click here).