05/16/14 :

Political Tensions Can’t Put A Damper On Efficiency’s Bright Future

Energy efficiency has a bright future despite minor setback

Energy efficiency policy experienced a set-back this week as the Shaheen-Portman bill (S. 2262) was derailed before reaching a final vote on the Senate floor. It has been seven years since Congress has passed a major energy bill, and non-energy efficiency related pent-up political issues were blamed for contention over the legislation.

In other words, the disagreements over Shaheen-Portman had nothing to do with the bill itself; everyone agrees about the merits of energy efficiency. After all, the House of Representatives recently passed energy efficiency bill H.R 2126 with overwhelming bi-partisan support, and the President announced last week that the Administration would provide $2 billion in additional funding for energy efficiency performance contracts.

Once you step outside of the political bubble even further, it’s clear that energy efficiency is a cause that individuals and organizations are supporting with enthusiasm – now more than ever.

Brad Plumer recently authored an article in which he asks: How much energy could the US save if it really tried? We’ve already doubled our nation’s energy productivity since 1970, and concerted efforts in the coming years will allow us to do the same by the year 2030. We need to engage local stakeholders, incentivize household efficiency, uphold more rigorous building standards, and break through other barriers to double US productivity (again).

Alex Laskey of Opower weighed in as well, explaining that energy efficiency is a cause that people from all political parties, belief systems, and lifestyles can support. Plumer, Laskey, and many others are engaged in important dialogues to spearhead the adoption of energy efficiency practices across the US.

Energy efficiency has moved beyond the op-ed pages, as well. Georgetown University launched a competition in April with a $5 million prize for the community that leads the way in energy efficiency. The GUEP aims to foster innovation and creativity to facilitate energy savings across the US. Eligible communities have until June 30, 2014 to enter the competition, which will run between 2015 and 2017.

Adding significant backing to the efficiency creative front is a $10 million US Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which was announced earlier this year and is a partnership of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Walmart, and the Walmart Foundation. They’re now accepting applications from non-profits, universities and think tanks, so if you know a group with applied research projects that will advance innovative solutions – particularly in areas identified as major challenges – to lower the cost of making consumer products in the U.S. then spread the word!

Lastly, the Alliance’s annual EE Global Forum is coming up next week – bringing stakeholders in the energy efficiency community from around the world to Washington D.C. for high level discussions aimed at identifying actionable plans that will drive the future of energy productivity. The Energy 2030 On the Road campaign will be making an exciting announcement at EE Global—proving, once again, that work on energy efficiency continues full steam ahead, regardless of recent political setbacks. We encourage you to register so you can learn about another efficiency initiative that has already gained support across the country. Let the energy efficiency work and inspiration continue!