Apr 29, 2009

Proposed House Legislation Would Reduce Nationwide Energy Use 10%

Washington, D.C. (April 21, 2009): Pending federal energy efficiency provisions could reduce U.S. energy use by 10.6 quadrillion Btu's, about 10% of projected U.S. energy use in 2020, according to a new analysis released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

These energy efficiency savings are more than the entire current energy use of the state of California, and are larger than the annual energy use of 49 of the 50 states. These savings are more than triple those of 2005 energy legislation and about double those of 2007 energy legislation, and in turn will avoid about 661 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, the equivalent of taking 110 million cars off the road for a year.

The analysis examines the energy efficiency provisions in the "discussion draft" of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), authored by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA). This bill includes a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy provisions as well as a cap-and-trade program to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases..

"These energy efficiency savings are very substantial and will go a long way towards paying the cost of the cap-and-trade program in the bill," noted Steven Nadel, ACEEE's Executive Director. "Our analyses indicate that energy efficiency policies are a key cost-control element for climate change legislation because the less energy we need, the fewer new power plants we need, and the fewer existing power plants that need to be upgraded."

More than half of the savings in the bill comes from the inclusion of a Federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), which would require utilities to reduce electricity demand by 15 percent and natural gas demand by 10 percent by 2020. This provision alone will create 222,000 net jobs and prevent 262 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, and is a key policy for achieving the savings possible from energy efficiency.

The bill also includes major savings from a number of other programs, including:

  • A new Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program, to promote comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits for residential and commercial buildings, which would save consumers an estimated $5.9 billion dollars in 2020.
  • A provision requiring states to establish goals for transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions reductions to ensure an absolute decrease in emissions after a designated year. This provision could reduce emissions by 58 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Nonetheless, strengthening implementation of the transportation efficiency provisions could greatly increase savings.

According to ACEEE, there are a number of ways the bill could be improved to maximize efficiency savings. First, the current draft of the bill does not address allocation of income from sales of emissions allowances. "It is important that some of these allowances are invested in energy efficiency, including new programs authorized in the bill, as well as funding for state and utility-based efficiency programs," stated Rachel Gold, the principal analyst on this project.

Second, the bill should include a provision to improve industrial energy efficiency similar to S. 661, Restoring America's Manufacturing Leadership through Energy Efficiency. To complement the industrial centers provision in S. 661, the bill should also establish a network of Building Training and Assessment Centers. In addition, the bill could further maximize savings and help with energy costs in low-income housing by including a provision to help fund retrofits to multifamily housing.

Although these potential savings are dramatic, there are many additional cost-effective efficiency opportunities available. ACEEE's studies of energy efficiency's potential indicate that current technologies can cost-effectively save 25-30% of total energy use, and that new technologies could increase the available cost-effective savings.

Details on ACEEE's analyses of the House discussion draft can be found at http://aceee.org/energy/national/index.htm#analyais.

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About ACEEE: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, contact ACEEE, 529 14th Street N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045 or visit http://www.aceee.org/.

For more information please contact:

Steven Nadel
ACEEE
202-507-4011
snadel@aceee.org

Glee Murray
202-507-4010
gmurray@aceee.org

SustainableBusiness.com Newswire

04/21/2009 02:31 PM ET
News from: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

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