Monthly Archives: February 2013

Experts Unveil Plan To Double U.S. Energy Productivity By 2030

Achieving Goal Could Cut Carbon Pollution By One-Third And Save $327 Billion Annually

The Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy released a report today with recommendations that would put the U.S. on a path towards doubling its energy productivity by 2030. The Commission, which is chaired by U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) and National Grid U.S. President Tom King, is a diverse coalition of energy leaders that includes representatives from energy utilities, academia, industry and environmental groups.  Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), serves on the Commission.

The Commission found that a doubling of energy productivity (or obtaining twice as much output from the energy we use) would reduce U.S. carbon dioxide pollution down to four billion tons per year by 2030, which is 33 percent below 2005 levels. The full report is available at

“The Alliance Commission’s recommendations are an innovative approach to greatly increasing our nation’s use of energy efficiency, which represents a huge – and largely untapped – opportunity,” said Fred Krupp, President of EDF.  “Reducing wasted energy through efficiency is a true win-win solution that cuts harmful pollution and saves people money on their energy bills.”

The Commission’s recommendations are wide-ranging, covering multiple sectors of the economy.  The recommendations include: increased stringency of energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, creation of financing mechanisms that bring down the cost of energy efficiency projects, reform of utility regulatory policies to enable full use of cost-effective energy efficiency and greater support for research and development.

Achieving the Commission’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 would:

  • Add 1.3 million jobs;
  • Cut average household energy costs by more than $1,000 a year;
  • Save American businesses $169 billion a year;
  • Increase gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 2 percent;
  • Decrease energy imports by more than $100 billion a year; and
  • Reduce CO2 emissions by one-third.


EDF is particularly encouraged by the Commission’s recommendations related to energy efficiency finance and smart grid policies, which are a high priority for EDF.  The Commission recommends that state and local governments work with utilities to create financing mechanisms, such as On-Bill Repayment (OBR) programs.  OBR provides a new route to funding clean energy investments at attractive terms, relying solely on private third-party financing.

OBR programs offer an opportunity for residential and commercial utility customers to finance energy efficiency projects with loans repaid through their utility bills and financed at no additional cost to ratepayers.  The Commission also recommends reforms to state utility regulatory policies that would break down barriers to utility investment in energy efficiency and enable greater use of advanced new technologies that create a smarter and cleaner electric power grid.

Though the U.S. currently lags behind other nations on energy productivity, the Commission believes there are more than $1 trillion in energy-saving opportunities with the right federal, state and local government support, and private-sector buy-in.

The Alliance Commission’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 is ambitious, yet attainable, and it goes well beyond capturing the well-known, low-hanging fruit. I am confident that the solutions proposed by the Commission will drive innovation and technological advancements, which will modernize U.S. manufacturing and help us to compete globally.

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Grid Modernization, On-bill repayment, Washington, DC / Comments are closed

Super Bowl, NOT Super Coal

Was it the duel between two brothers coaching opposing teams? The awesome performance by Beyonce’ and the reunion of Destiny’s Child? Ray Lewis’ last game? No. What everyone was talking about post Super Bowl 2013 was the power outage!

Let’s get this straight: With over 108 million people watching the most important football game of the year — the third most watched TV program ever  — yielding hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenues, the power in the stadium just happens to go out for over 30 minutes?

The first thought I had was, “Is someone trying to spare the 49ers from suffering a Super Bowl blowout? The second was, “Do I have time to run out and get more snacks?” The third was, “Who’s to blame for this power fumble…the NFL? The City of New Orleans? Beyoncé?”  Well, the fossil fuel industry seems to think they have the answer, jumping at the opportunity to remind us of the need for more coal.

The truth is that officials are just starting to figure out what caused the power outage, according to a recent article by The Times-Picayune.  What is clear is that the stadium had reliability problems which were identified in October 2012 – including decayed feeder lines – and that officials quickly tried to fix them in the months before the game.  Somewhere along the line, something failed – and the new switchgear did its job, shutting down the stadium to save it from a longer blackout.

The bottom line is that no amount of coal would have solved the problem – unless, of course, more charcoal would have meant better tailgate parties while attendees waited for the electrical system to be restored.

In fact, an article in The Washington Post notes that stadiums across the country have avoided blackouts through advanced technology that allows grid operators to identify problems more rapidly and fix the system in real time.  While the Superdome’s electrical system did not seem to have that level of advanced technology, perhaps its game-day tale is a win – without the new switchgear, the blackout may have in total, lasted much longer, and signaled the end of the game.  Only time will tell.  In the meantime, we say “well played” to New Orleans for working diligently to upgrade the stadium in the short time that it had.

Fortunately, while upgrades to the larger electricity system must happen to ensure reliability and reduce pollution, we have the time to thoroughly and thoughtfully upgrade our electricity system – and EDF is quarterbacking the issue to make sure it is done right.  The same smart technology used successfully by football stadiums across the county can be applied on a neighborhood, region, and national scale, avoiding and reducing blackouts, minimizing air pollution, and incorporating cleaner technologies.  The benefits from these investments nationwide are potentially huge – in the trillions of dollars – three times their cost.  With interest rates on savings accounts currently well below 1 percent, this kind of payback is certainly worth the investment in our nation’s economy, health, and –well -football.

Posted in Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

Hawaii Making Waves In Financing Clean Energy

Public Utility Commission orders on-bill program to finance clean energy

Last Friday evening, February 1, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued a landmark decision and order to create an on-bill program, very much in line with EDF’s recommendations for on-bill repayment (OBR), that will provide access to low-cost financing for solar and energy efficiency projects for homeowners and small businesses.  This decision comes 18 months after the State passed legislation directing the PUC to investigate an on-bill program and authorized the Commission to implement the program (by decision and order or by rules) if the on-bill program was found to be viable.

The PUC decision determined that a statewide on-bill program is viable, and specified program design criteria that the Commission deems necessary to achieve viability.  EDF has been working to shape the proposal with key stakeholders including environmental groups, lenders and the Hawaii State Energy Office.

The specified criteria include the following components that EDF believes are critical for achieving both success and scale:

  1. bill neutrality (project savings exceed financing payment obligations)
  2. tariff-based obligation
  3. tariff is tied to the utility meter and therefore transferable
  4. standard collection procedures, including disconnection for non-payment of OBR obligation
  5. pro-rata allocation of partial payments

Since the terminology can be confusing, it is worth noting that this is not a typical ratepayer-funded on-bill finance program, despite having the same designation. The Hawaii program leverages private capital, and the PUC supports participation by multiple sources of capital rather than a single financing entity.  EDF believes both of these elements are critical to scaling the program and meeting the needs of a diverse set of property owners.

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