Changing the Climate: Looking Towards a More Cost Effective, Energy Efficient Future

New federal action plan will help reduce national energy emissions.
By the U.S. Department of Energy
November 18, 2008
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy are helping states lead the way in an effort to promote low cost energy efficiency.  More than 60 energy, environmental and state policy leaders from across the country have come together to produce the updated National Action Plan Vision for 2025: A Framework for Change.  The action plan outlines strategies to help lower the growth in energy demand across the country by more than 50 percent, and shows ways to save more than $500 billion in net savings over the next 20 years.  These strategies, if implemented, are estimated to help reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 90 million vehicles.

“The significant action taken by states, utilities and energy customers advances low cost energy solutions,” said Robert Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The plan is a big step toward a more energy-efficient future, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while growing the American economy.”

“These leaders from state government and the private sector should be commended for their continued progress in promoting energy-efficient technologies as a key part of modernizing our electric and gas infrastructure to meet our nation’s growing energy needs,” said U.S. Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Kevin Kolevar.

The action plan outlines critical steps for state policy makers to take toward the goal of increasing the nation’s investment in low cost energy efficiency programs.  The plan also shows the progress states are making toward these goals.  States, utilities and other organizations are spending about $2 billion per year on energy efficiency programs.  Through this investment, states, utilities and other organizations have saved the energy equivalent of more than 30 power plants generating 500 megawatts of electricity saving energy customers nearly $6 billion annually.  This effort helped reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those emitted from 9 million vehicles.

The updated action plan also identifies areas for additional progress. About one-third of the states have established energy savings targets and addressed utility disincentives for energy efficiency.  Moreover, about half of the states have established energy efficiency programs for key customer classes and reviewed and updated building codes. 

Two technical assistance documents are also available to assist states in achieving the energy goals established under the action plan.  The first document provides guidance on establishing cost-effectiveness tests for energy efficiency programs, while the second outlines best practices for providing business customers with energy-use and cost data. 

Initiated in 2005, the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency is directed by a leadership group of 30 electric and gas utilities, 20 state agencies and 12 other organizations.  This state-driven initiative is designed to help electric and natural gas ratepayers increase energy efficiency while saving money.  More than 120 organizations have endorsed the original recommendations of the action plan and have committed to making it a reality.

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