OVERVIEW

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Now in its fourth year, the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook series documents the revolution transforming how the US produces, delivers, and consumes energy. The 2016 Factbook provides an update through the end of 2015, highlighting a number of key developments that occurred as the long-term transformation of US energy continues to unfold.

Two thousand fifteen will surely be remembered as a watershed year in the evolution of US energy, as the industry passed important milestones and the federal government finalized critical new policies. The already rapid de-carbonization of the US power sector accelerated with record numbers of coal plant closures and solar photovoltaic system commissionings, while natural gas production and consumption hit an all-time high. Concurrently, the US continued to enjoy greater benefits from energy efficiency efforts as economic growth outpaced the growth in electricity consumption.

The net result on the planet: US power sector CO2 emissions fell to their lowest annual level since the mid-1990s. The net impact on consumers: negligible to positive as prices for electricity and fuel remained low by historic standards and customer choices expanded. Perhaps most importantly, many of the key changes seen in 2015 are likely permanent shifts, rather than temporary adjustments due to one-time events.

On the policy front, major initiatives appear poised to keep the US on track toward de-carbonization in the coming decades. In August, the Obama administration finalized its Clean Power Plan regulation for the existing US power fleet. In December, the US joined with 194 other nations in France to adopt the “Paris Agreement” which includes pledges to rein in emissions over the coming decades. The year closed with Congressional approval of a major, five-year extension of key tax credits supporting new US wind
and solar projects and a two-year extension of measures supporting energy efficiency. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) was also extended to cover geothermal, biomass, waste-to-energy, landfill gas, hydro and ocean energy projects that commence construction before 2017.

The Sustainable Energy in America Factbook provides a detailed look at the state of US energy and the role that a range of new technologies are playing in reshaping the industry. The Factbook is researched and produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. As always, the goal is to offer simple, accurate benchmarks on the status and contributions of new sustainable energy technologies.

For more information, please visit the Factbook portal on the BCSE website: http://www.bcse.org/sustainableenergyfactbook.html