As we've discussed previously, energy efficiency offers tremendous potential to slash energy waste, save consumers enormous amounts of money (Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute has estimated that by 2050, energy efficiency measures could save the U.S. economy upwards of half a trillion dollars) and cut pollution. Despite all these advantages, energy efficiency's potential remains underutilized. Part of the reason for this is that, as Matthew Wald of the New York Times explained to us, it costs money - and time and effort - to save money via energy efficiency improvements. Part of it may be a matter of better communication, as Jennifer Layke has suggested. And part of it is clearly a matter of enacting government policies that discourage waste and encourage energy efficiency.
That's exactly where the new report by the BlueGreen Alliance is so useful - in recommending a Policy on Industrial Energy Efficiency. Here's an excerpt from the BlueGreen Alliance's press release on its new report.
“At its very essence, pollution is merely wasted energy during the manufacturing process,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “These are common-sense ideas and investments that policymakers can and should implement to reduce carbon pollution, and create and maintain jobs by aiding companies in becoming more efficient and competitive.”
The Policy on Industrial Energy Efficiency recommends a variety of tools to achieve these goals, including improving the existing federal Investment Tax Credit for combined heat and power (CHP) — an integrated system that simultaneously generates electricity and useful thermal energy, such as steam, from a single fuel source. In addition, the policy calls for the revitalization of the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit — a successful federal program that invested $2.3 billion to leverage $5.4 billion in private funding at 180 manufacturing facilities, creating jobs and economic growth around the country...
...A McKinsey & Company report found that by making the manufacturing sector more efficient, the United States could reduce primary industrial energy consumption 21 percent by 2020 — saving U.S. industry $47 billion per year. But, while there are existing programs, including the President’s recent Executive Order, “Accelerating Investment in Industrial Energy Efficiency,” there are hurdles to companies making these investments.
And it's exactly those "hurdles" which need to be overcome if we're going to realize energy efficiency's tremendous potential. This report provides the recommendations; now it's up to policymakers to do their part by enacting them into law.