Policy Successes

How have the northeastern states made real progress on reducing emissions?

Turbine photo courtesy of David Hobson

Northeastern states have cut emissions, in part, by adopting innovative energy and climate policies. To date, two sets of policies have been the most effective: energy efficiency investments and clean power incentives.

Energy efficiency: Eliminating energy waste to reduce emissions

Energy efficiency is the region’s lowest cost energy resource. The cleanest energy is the energy not used - “negawatts” do not emit greenhouse gases - but, due to a host of market barriers, these savings do not materialize on their own. States policies have created structured energy efficiency programs that provide the education, incentives, and technical assistance that consumers and businesses need to invest in efficiency.

States can cut emissions cheaply by choosing to invest in all cost-effective efficiency – in other words, all energy efficiency that is cheaper than traditional energy resources. The northeastern states that have made these investments have reaped substantial environmental and economic benefits.

Clean power incentives: Speeding the growth of low-carbon electricity generation

The power sector is a significant source of emissions with a historically heavy reliance on polluting fossil fuels – coal, oil, and natural gas. Policies that incentivize the growth of renewable power seek to tackle this problem head on. Increasing the portion of electricity generated from the region’s wind and solar resources will reduce power sector emissions while providing significant economic benefits.