An energy efficiency portfolio standard is as important as a renewable standard, but has gotten much less attention — until now. A new coalition is pushing this crucial strategy, as guest blogger Kalen Pruss, a Center for American Progress intern and U. Mich. major in environmental studies, explains.
President Obama’s inclusion in his 2010 budget proposal of revenue from a global warming has launched the debate over clean up costs, who pays, and who benefits. For the most part, the debate has ignored the cheapest, cleanest energy source: using electricity more efficiently. Reducing energy demand and consumption would mean that we could do more while using less. According to McKinsey & Company, improving energy efficiency could offset 85 percent of projected electricity demand in 2030. Energy saved via efficiency improvements costs significantly less than conventional base-load electricity.
Even though efficiency reduces energy use, saves money, and reduce pollution, a win- win-win, most government and businesses are just awakening to the opportunities of efficiency investments. Uniting under the newly announced Campaign for an Energy Efficient America, more than 60 corporations and nonprofits strongly advocate a national Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) to mandate efficiency improvements across the country.
The new campaign includes a diverse set of major corporations, including Dow Chemical, Intel, Whirlpool, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and the Real Estate Roundtable. They are joined by long time efficiency advocates–the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Energy Future Coalition, and the Sierra Club. .
The group’s goals align with recently introduced efficiency legislation:
The Campaign for an Energy-Efficient America supports a federal EERS, a target that would require utilities to reduce electricity demand by 15 percent and natural gas demand by 10 percent by 2020. This EERS is included in both House and Senate versions (H.R. 889 and S. 548) of the Save American Energy Act, introduced by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY).
There are many economic and environmental benefits of enacting a national EERS (see “Harvesting Low-Hanging Energy Savings“). But the savings resulting of a national EERS to are potentially even greater than previously thought:
Energy efficiency initiatives that reward consumers and businesses for reducing electricity and gas usage could result in utility bill savings of $168.6 billion, according to a report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). That number is 16 percent higher than ACEEE’s previous savings estimate of $144 billion.
A national EERS could produce significant economic benefits including:
- 222,000 net permanent, high quality jobs in construction, manufacturing and other fields;
- 262 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions prevented — the equivalent of taking 48 million cars of the roads for one year;
- 390 power plants that won’t need to be built.
Eighteen states have an EERS. Those that don’t would save billions in energy costs and create thousands of new jobs:
- Florida will create more than 19,500 new jobs and save $14 billion in energy costs.
- Illinois will create more than 6,500 new jobs and save $3.6 billion in energy costs.
- Indiana will create more than 5,000 new jobs and save $3.6 billion in energy costs.
- North Carolina will create nearly 6,500 new jobs and save $3 billion in energy costs.
- Tennessee will create more than 5,000 new jobs and save $3.5 billion on energy costs.
As the executive summary of ACEEE’s new report points out, “Policy actions at the federal level are necessary to strengthen the continued development and implementation of EERS at the state level and expand this policy to all 50 states.” The push for a national standard now has some new, influential allies.
- Energy efficiency is THE core climate solution, Part 1: The biggest low-carbon resource by far
- Part 2: The limitless resource
- Part 3: The only cheap power left
- Part 4: How California does it so consistently and cost-effectively
- Part 5: The highest documented rate of return of any federal program.