Significant Effects from the BIG WIRES Act and IRA Home Rebates

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TL/DR –

The BIG WIRES Act, which aims to enhance energy transmission between regions, could save the country between $330 million and $2.5 billion annually while also reducing emissions, according to a study conducted by researchers at MIT. By encouraging regions to increase the amount of electricity they exchange with neighboring regions, the Act could reduce the need for new local power plants and other energy infrastructure. Furthermore, the Act could lead to a reduction in American climate pollution by approximately 73 million tons of CO2 per year, which equates to about 1-2% of total emissions.


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The BIG WIRES Act would increase energy transmission, saving up to $2.5 billion while reducing emissions

Dana Nuccitelli, CCL Research Coordinator

In CCL’s virtual lobbying last November, we requested cosponsors for the BIG WIRES Act from Congress. It triggered several queries about its impact on utility costs, emission reduction, and regional effects.

Specific answers to these questions were unavailable until a recent MIT report analyzed the BIG WIRES Act. Researchers from Vanderbilt University also published a study on the importance of the Inflation Reduction Act’s home electrification and efficiency incentives.

Watch the full training about the updates or read the recap:

Three-fold Benefits of the BIG WIRES Act

The BIG WIRES Act requires each region to increase inter-regional electricity exchange. The costs would be borne by utilities and transmission developers but offset by savings from the import of more affordable clean electricity and the reduction in new local power plants and energy infrastructure.

MIT’s research indicates that the BIG WIRES Act could save the US between $330 million and $2.5 billion per year. The bill’s impacts vary by region. Areas like Florida, the Midwest, and Carolinas could save over a billion dollars by importing more cheap clean electricity. The Mid-Atlantic, Central, and Northeast would build and sell more renewable energy, benefitting from job creation and revenue.

The researchers estimated a reduction of about 73 million tons of CO2 per year, or about 1–2% of our total emissions. They also indicated that BIG WIRES could have reduced power blackouts by 58% during Winter Storm Elliott in 2022.

Updates on Home Electrification and Efficiency

The Vanderbilt study reviewed the Inflation Reduction Act and bipartisan infrastructure bill’s incentives. The study found that heat pumps and electric vehicles could contribute to 40% of the potential emission reductions.

Updates from the Department of Energy indicate that four states are setting up programs for low and middle-income households to receive upfront rebates for home electrification and efficiency measures.

What’s next?

A bipartisan comprehensive permitting reform bill, likely to include the BIG WIRES Act, is being negotiated. The CCL’s conservative conference will focus on BIG WIRES Act. As home electrification and efficiency rebates become available, CCL chapters will inform local communities about these incentives.

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