Energy2030 strives to double U.S. energy productivity
The Alliance to Save Energy recently announced recommendations to improve energy efficiency and double U.S. energy productivity by 2030 through increasing infrastructure investment, modernizing the electrical grid, and committing to energy-efficiency education.
Energy-efficiency benefits include adding more than 1 million U.S. jobs, saving small businesses $169 billion per year, contributing to a 2 percent rise in GDP, and reducing energy imports and CO2 emissions.
The Alliance developed the Energy 2030 framework with input from its 19-member Commission on National Energy Efficiency, formed in 2012 and chaired by U.S. Senator Mark Warner and National Grid President Tom King.
At the core of the plan is to offer "actionable and implementable" suggestions to foster energy efficiency. This will be done through proposals that will, for example, hone in on renewable generation and leverage the ingenuity and competitive spirit of U.S. companies by providing incentives to develop more efficient technologies.
Alliance President Kateri Callahan made the announcement today in Washington, D.C. She, along with the rest of the commission, is gunning to position energy-efficiency planning squarely in the national energy policy discussion. While progress has been made over the past decades to improve energy productivity, there is still work to be done.
"Energy efficiency, I think, has always in the past kind of been viewed as almost a step child or a second part of our overall national energy plan," said Senator Mark Warner during his remarks.
He stressed the potential of efficiency technologies to drive the energy conversation forward.
"Increasing productivity out of the top line and areas around efficiency are a key, key way to get more for less without decreasing output -- without making us live in a less robust or less productive economy," he said.
Achieving stakeholder participation
New strategies are only as good as the people supporting them, and the high up-front costs of efficiency technologies are often a stumbling block for investors and business. The Energy 2030 report aims to change that mentality through better education.
"People have always believed that green things are good and clean environment is good, but that it's going to result in more expensive things and fewer jobs," said Former New York Governor George Pataki. "One of the most important things of this report is to disabuse people of the idea that you have to choose between clean, efficient energy and a growing economy."
One of the most important things of this report is to disabuse people of the idea that you have to choose between clean, efficient energy and a growing economy -- Former New York Governor George Pataki
Members across the commission agreed that the cost-benefit analysis borders on a no-brainer.
"While the investment is necessary, the payback is big," said National Grid President Tom King, estimating that savings from energy-efficiency spending could reach $327 million, which is nearly double the up-front capital requirements.
Other benefits include adding more than 1 million U.S. jobs, saving small businesses $169 billion per year, contributing to a 2 percent rise in GDP, and reducing energy imports and CO2 emissions.
Partisan gridlock is another relatively new roadblock facing green, efficient and renewable energy advancement. Attempts to pass comprehensive energy legislation through Congress have stalled recently, but the Alliance has structured its suggestions to be achievable without legislative support.
"In a bipartisan way, this plan can become reality, and that is very exciting," Senator Warner said, noting the wide spectrum of people and industries that participated in the report and the ability to implement techniques on the state and local level.
In addition to Congress, the many layers of U.S. energy regulation -- ranging from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to state Public Utility Commissions -- can make it cumbersome to implement energy-efficiency programs. And while Energy 2030 does not aim to rewrite the country's regulatory structure, it does strive to make it easier for agencies to say "yes" to efficiency policies, according to Dan Arvizu, director of the National Energy Regulatory Laboratory (NREL).
He noted that government, business and individuals will spend trillions of dollars in the coming decades to update what he sees as deteriorating and unsustainable infrastructure. Further, he said that action must be taken to ensure this capital is invested intelligently and with efficiency in mind, including policies and frameworks that encourage and, perhaps more importantly, reward innovation.
"We need to strategically reform these numerous, numerous regulations and advance the idea of modernization infrastructure equipment and vehicles," Arvizu said. "Policies that make full use of energy efficiency should be at the very top of the list of regulatory reform."
Examples include environmental building codes and land-use regulations along with improving roads and transportation.
More information can be found in the complete report.