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Report suggests U.S. to “think big” about energy efficiency, not new energy sources

February 6, 2012 - The U.S. is thinking too small when it comes to energy efficiency, while also making the mistake of “crowding out” economically beneficial investments in energy efficiency by focusing on riskier and more expensive bids to develop new energy sources, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).


February 6, 2012
By Alyssa Dalton

Titled The Long-Term Energy Efficiency Potential: What the Evidence Suggests, it outlines three scenarios under which the U.S. could either continue on its current path or cut energy consumption almost 60% by the year 2050, add nearly two million net jobs in 2050, and save energy consumers as much as $400 billion per year (the equivalent of $2600 per household annually).

According to ACEEE, the secret to major economic gains from energy efficiency is a more productive investment pattern of increased investments in energy efficiency, which would allow lower investments in power plants and other supply infrastructure, thereby substantially lowering overall energy expenditures on an economy-wide basis in the residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and electric power sectors.

“The evidence suggests that without a greater emphasis on the more efficient use of energy resources, there may be as many as three jokers in the deck that will threaten the robustness of our nationʼs future economy,” said John A. “Skip” Laitner, ACEEE director of Economic and Social Analysis. “These include the many uncertainties surrounding the availability of conventional and relatively inexpensive energy supplies, a slowing rate of energy productivity gains and therefore economic productivity, and a variety of potential climate constraints that may create further economic impacts of their own. Given all of this, large-scale energy efficiency advances are by far the smartest investment for America.”

Examples of potential large-scale energy efficiency savings identified by ACEEE include: electric power, transportation, buildings, and industry.

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“Large-scale energy efficiency advances will require major investments. But the good news is that the investments will generate a significant return in the form of large energy bill savings,” said Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director. “After paying for the program costs and making the necessary investments as we pay for them over time, the economy will benefit from a net energy bill savings that ranges from 12 to 16 trillion dollars cumulatively from 2012 through 2050.”

CLICK HERE for the full report.