This week, the California Public Utilities Commission released two reports produced by E3 in collaboration with Commission staff and partners at UC Irvine. These reports aim to help decision makers understand the magnitude of the health benefits due to better air quality associated with clean energy policies.
The first report, “Quantifying the Air Quality Impacts of Decarbonization and Distributed Energy Programs in California,” estimates the health benefits associated with reducing air pollutant emissions from fossil fuel combustion. The report finds that eliminating fossil fuel emissions from buildings and transportation, for example through electrification, would yield monetized health benefits of $44 billion per year, based on detailed air quality modeling by UC Irvine, and that eliminating emissions from natural gas generators would yield benefits of $1 billion per year. The benefits are due to improved health and the avoidance of 4,950 premature deaths per year (across all sectors modeled). Much of these benefits would accrue in disadvantaged communities, which have historically borne a disproportionately high share of air quality impacts from energy use.
The second report, “Societal Cost Test Impact Evaluation,” focuses on evaluating the impact of including societal costs in resource procurement decision making processes, and finds that including these societal costs would show significant societal benefits of building and vehicle electrification that are not included in current cost effectiveness tests.