Energy efficiency group to reignite legislative efforts with new plan
Washington (Platts)--7Feb2013/339 pm EST/2039 GMT
A group of energy efficiency advocates, comprised of utility executives,
lawmakers, business leaders and environmentalists, Thursday said they wanted
to jumpstart legislative efforts in Congress with a new plan that could
double US energy productivity by 2030.
The Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy say their
plan would save US households, businesses and government agencies $327
billion in energy costs, grow US economic output by 2% and create 1.3 million
jobs by 2030.
The plan, unveiled at a news conference in Washington, involves
providing financing for energy efficiency projects, boosting funding for
energy research and creating a "Race to the Top" style competition for states
and local communities to earn federal grants for conservation measures, among
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Commission members said that by rebranding energy efficiency as "energy
productivity," they hope to signal that investments in conservation can lead
to real gains in gross domestic product, jobs and national security.
"This is such common sense, and it's doable," said Senator Mark Warner,
a Virginia Democrat who co-chaired the commission. "Energy efficiency has
always been viewed as a stepchild or a second part of a national energy plan.
We needed a new way to think of this -- energy efficiency as a means of
increasing energy productivity."
Warner said he has been meeting with lawmakers in both the Senate and the
House to advance some of the recommendations through legislation that would
use a bill introduced in 2011 by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat-New
Hampshire, and Rob Portman, Republican-Ohio, as its base.
A few of that bill's provisions, including energy efficiency measures
for federal agencies, were passed in a separate bill that President Barack
Obama signed into law in December. But the remainder of the Shaheen-Portman
bill, which included an overhaul of building codes and loan guarantees for
energy efficiency projects, has met objections from some Republicans.
IMMEDIATE INDUSTRY ACTION
Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, which
spearheaded the formation of the commission, said her group would be meeting
later Thursday with officials from the White House Council on Environmental
Quality, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to
pitch their plan.
"This is something we've been in conversation with policymakers about,
and we're hopeful there'll be one or more bills and regulatory action," she
Tom King, the president of National Grid US and who also co-chaired the
commission, said there were several recommendations in the 2030 energy plan
that do not require legislation, which industry can act on immediately.
Banks can work together to create revolving loan funds or other
financing mechanisms for efficiency projects, for example. And the buildings
industry could develop more effective energy ratings.
"We're increasing the nation's GDP by reducing energy waste and
consuming energy in the most efficient way possible," King said. "It
fundamentally increases the nation's global competitiveness."
Callahan said rebranding energy efficiency as energy productivity was
important from a messaging standpoint. The commission wanted to relay that
energy efficiency did not necessarily mean that consumers would have to
sacrifice comfort or performance, she said.
"When you talk about saving energy, people think it harkens back to
President Carter and turning down the thermostat and being cold," she said.
"It doesn't have to be like that. We've come so far with energy technology,
and we want people to understand that intuitively. It's not about saving
energy for saving energy's sake."
--Herman Wang, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Richard Rubin, email@example.com