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Energy Efficiency – a Ready Tool to Address Power Demand

2008 October 31

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

Poster for conference.  It reads: Blue Skyways Energy Savings Conference, Utilities greening the future and the bottom line. For utilities, by utilities EPA offices in Dallas and Kansas City, through a public/private partnership group – the Blue Skyways Collaborative, hosted a conference on Energy Savings for utilities in the central part of the United States on September 25 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The participants included investor owned utilities, local electric cooperatives, municipal and other publicly owned utilities as well as state and federal regulators. Since energy efficiency programs are scalable, the approach is as easily implemented by a small co-op with 15,000 customers as it is for large multi-state operations with millions of subscribers.

One of the principal messages of the conference was that an aggressive energy efficiency campaign for residential properties, farm & small business operations, and commercial & industrial customers should be the first option when a utility is managing an increase in power demand. Several utilities said that it was possible to harness the same amount of power created by new generation and transmission facilities through efficiency efforts for between 10 to 50% of the cost of new construction.

Glenn Cannon of the Waverly, Iowa, municipal utility outlined why this approach was a win/win solution. The environmental benefits include lower emissions including greenhouse gases than from new power plants as well as a reduction in water usage. The economic savings go to consumers, including low income and fixed income residents. Since steps like rebates for buying newer appliances and retrofitting houses with more insulation and higher quality windows and doors happen in the local area, there are positive impacts to the local economy through local purchases and the use of nearby workers. The utility benefits from a quicker response to the power demand with ongoing, long-term benefits; lessening the need for building and permitting new generation and transmission facilities, and without increasing carbon emissions.

As one of the members of the conference planning committee, I was impressed that all of the participants felt that energy efficiency programs will be an important tool to meet these future demands with certainty and benefits to all involved.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    October 31, 2008

    This is definitely the right direction, however I do believe that the Federal Gov’t needs to lead. For example, using solar/wind/geo power on miltary bases, planting gardens on Federal buildings for insulation and the list goes on.

    In addition, if the Federal Gov’t starts implementing these initiatives, it needs to get the word out virally so people can get the confidence that this is real and sustainable.

    http://innovate2sustain.blogspot.com/

  2. Rob permalink
    November 6, 2008

    Tom – thanks for the comment and observation. Many federal buildings and installations have undertaken energy efficiency and green energy steps. Check out the list of green power purchasing leaders (http://www.epa.gov/grnpower/toplists/top50.htm) and see that the Air Force, EPA and DOE are stepping up to the challenge. If you are ever in the Denver area, I invite you to take a tour of the new EPA offices, which are in a leased building that was designed and constructed to be LEED certified, including roof gardens, light wells within the building, and different construction materials based on solar exposure variances.

  3. jessica permalink
    February 9, 2009

    I think everyone should be putting solar panels and erecting wind turbines at their residences. My family recently did and we are now paying ourselves instead of our electric company!

    Check out this site and how it helped us!

    http://www.enviro-family.com

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    June 1, 2009

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  5. julia permalink
    August 25, 2009

    I invite you to take a tour of the new EPA offices, which are in a leased building that was designed and constructed to be LEED certified, including roof gardens, light wells within the building, and different construction materials based on solar exposure variances.

  6. Julie permalink
    July 24, 2010

    Thank you for the information.

  7. Scratch Cards Online permalink
    March 29, 2011

    We need to become more energy efficient these days if we want to maintain a good balance on this planet

  8. Private Krankenversicherung permalink
    October 28, 2011

    I think everyone should be putting solar panels and erecting wind turbines at their residences. My family recently did and we are now paying ourselves instead of our electric company!

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