In a new report prepared for Oracle Utilities, Brattle economists highlight the importance and quantify the decarbonization impact of customer-driven adoption of GHG-reducing technologies and energy consumption behaviors in the next 10–20 years.

The report finds that, by 2040, specific actions by utility customers – referred to as the “Customer Action Pathway” – can reduce nearly two times as many GHG emissions from the residential and light-duty vehicle sectors as those that would result from current clean energy supply policies alone. By adopting new technologies and behaviors to reduce energy consumption, residential utility customers can account for 534 metric tons of avoided carbon dioxide by 2040, the equivalent of retiring more than half (135) of the coal plants in the US.

Using Brattle’s in-house analytical models, the report estimates the load impact of multiple customer actions, including participating in gas and electricity efficiency programs, buying an electric vehicle (EV), installing behind-the-meter (BTM) solar, or electrifying their water and space heating. Additional key findings include the following:

  • Near-term emissions reduction potential is driven by energy efficiency and BTM solar through 2030, while customer adoption of electric vehicles could provide the largest emissions reductions by 2040.
  • EV adoption emissions impact increases significantly from 2030 to 2040 due to the four-time potential increase in the total number of EVs on the road and the lower power generation emission rates.
  • Load flexibility (e.g., smart thermostat programs, time-varying rates) will be a critical part of the Customer Action Pathway.

The report, “The Customer Action Pathway to National Decarbonization,” is authored by Brattle Principals Sanem Sergici and Ryan Hledik, Senior Associate Michael Hagerty, Principal Ahmad Faruqui, and Research Analyst Kate Peters.

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