Cleaning Up Our Act on Energy and Reaping the Benefits

For years, we’ve been warned that switching to clean energy would send our energy bills skyrocketing. It didn’t happen. For decades, America’s electricity bills and the per-kilowatt-hour rates on them have remained relatively stable and affordable, even as fossil fuel prices fluctuated wildly. Indeed, after adjusting for inflation, U.S. electricity is cheaper today than it was in 1990. At the same time, wind and solar energy—which are immune to the periodic surges that fossil fuel prices experience—raised their market share from virtually nothing to 7 percent of America’s electricity supply.

We found that the states that most conspicuously failed during this period to invest in clean energy are paying for it with both higher electricity costs and higher emissions from fossil fuel–fired electricity generation. And, unsurprisingly, it was the leaders in energy efficiency and renewable energy investment that secured the most positive statewide trends in utility bills and electricity rates.