In the ongoing debate over which energy resources best serve the country’s needs, or most deserve investment of our tax dollars, the conversation usually centers on fossil fuels vs. renewables.
But energy data collection and policy discussions too often omit one of the largest electrical power resources in the U.S.: energy efficiency.
Analysis just released by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) quantifies the size of the energy efficiency resource that currently exists in the electrical power sector. They do so by estimating the energy savings from just three of the many major energy efficiency policies and programs.
“Our new analysis finds energy efficiency is the 3rd largest resource in the U.S. electric power sector,” writes Maggie Molina, ACEEE’s Utilities, State, and Local Policy Director.
At present, coal and natural gas are the largest sources of electrical production, each comprising 27% of our nation’s energy generation. At 18%, energy conservation accounts for a hefty, and often unmeasured, portion of energy resources.
Calling for a broader energy resource debate
Given the many public and private benefits of energy efficiency, it’s vital that the topic be integrated into energy policy and planning discussions.
According to ACEEE, energy efficiency saves consumers $90 billion annually on electrical bills, cutting carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the number of new power plants that need to be built. It promotes economic development, creates jobs, and improves health, safety, and comfort.
We can, and should, do more to highlight the value of energy efficiency by speaking up and sharing what we know.
“We must help educate a wider audience that energy savings from greater efficiency—whether we call them ‘negawatts,’ an invisible energy source, virtual power plants, or something else—are a cornerstone of our nation’s energy system and critical to a clean and affordable energy future,” says Molina.
Here in Minnesota, we can raise awareness by measuring and highlighting the contribution energy savings make to the health and vitality of the companies in which we work. By sharing what we measure, we can increase buy-in among organizational leaders and open the door to additional investments in energy upgrades.
Measuring actual and potential energy savings can be challenging. That’s why Energy Smart provides customized energy analyses and recommendations to hundreds of Minnesota-based organizations. For information about energy analysis services for your company, or to schedule your no-cost energy consultation, please contact Energy Smart.