It’s said that the most efficient and inexpensive unit of energy is the negawatt—the unit that doesn’t actually get generated as a result of energy efficiency, conservation, proper building science, and advanced technologies. Unfortunately, this knowledge about the negawatt seems to be preciously held within the ranks of energy wonks and academicians, and it may just be the building industry’s best kept secret.
Neither the Republican nor the Democratic presidential candidate appears to fully understand or embrace the efficacy and cost-savings of the negawatt. If they did, why wouldn’t they imbue their campaign platform with no-nonsense, crystal clear, and intelligent discourse about the benefits of conservation and efficiency, and incorporate the simple, everyone-wins concept as a major component in their energy policies?
As outlined nicely by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), Governor Romney’s energy plan will supposedly enable North America to become energy independent by 2020, decreasing costs to consumers by increasing domestic production. Romney’s plan would:
• Streamline existing environmental regulations
• Aggressively open new offshore areas for drilling starting with California and Virginia
• Allow the states—not the federal government—to handle permitting and oversight of onshore energy production on federal lands
• Approve the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada
• Conduct a full assessment of the nation’s potential oil and gas resources
• Revitalize nuclear power
As RESNET points out, references to energy efficiency and renewable energy are completely nonexistent in Romney’s plan and campaign rhetoric.
President Obama does have a track record when it comes to energy efficiency. He talks about conservation, efficiency, and renewables in campaign speeches. He has encouraged Congress to pass the “25e” Tax Credit and the HOMES Act, both of which would reward homeowners for reduced energy consumption as a part of a qualified whole-home energy efficiency retrofit, and they would also create significant revenue generating opportunities for manufacturers, raters, contractors, and other businesses in the building industry. He also recently signed an Executive Order to increase industrial energy efficiency.
Nonetheless, his formal energy plan is conspicuously devoid of a solid national conservation and efficiency strategy. RESNET summarizes Obama’s “all-of-the-above” approach as a motley blend of energy solutions, including:
• Developing additional oil opportunities
• Increasing natural gas production
• Investing in “clean coal”
• Increasing the use of Biofuels
• Harnessing wind energy
• Expanding solar energy production
• Expanding nuclear energy
The only concrete reference to energy efficiency in Obama’s plan is related to fuel efficiency standards, which would double the fuel economy of cars and light trucks by 2025, thereby reducing oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day.
It’s hard to believe that neither candidate has harnessed the substantial value of the financial, social, and environmental opportunities associated with energy conservation and efficiency.
The lack of a clear strategy is troubling. But what’s even more disconcerting is that something as non-partisan as energy use and production has been tied into a hateful discussion of climate change and become one of the most heated, semantically tainted issues of our political discourse. Antagonism has trumped common sense to the detriment of our society as well as the environment.
Neither extreme’s rhetoric is right. Our planet is not going to implode tomorrow, nor will economic or individual freedom be jeopardized if we enact an intelligent energy policy or even modernize environmental regulations to deal with today’s realities. We simply don’t have to make a choice between the economy and the environment.
The biggest threat to our progress is not policy or regulation. It’s the zero-sum game of Washington politics that continues to paralyze our nation. In fact, a sound energy policy would undoubtedly be our ticket to increased prosperity—a predictable and progressive energy policy would encourage companies to invest in innovative technologies that lead to higher performance, lower costs, and increased job creation.
Getting our energy policy right is a big deal. Any proposed national energy strategy that doesn’t include a comprehensive plan to implement conservation and efficiency measures is fatally flawed and should not be taken seriously. Voters deserve more informed decision making, homeowners and other energy customers deserve better performance, and future generations certainly deserve a greater commitment to preserving our natural resources as well as their own opportunities for prosperity.
What can we do to influence our leaders to incorporate energy efficiency and conservation into their official energy plans? Write to me at email@example.com, follow me on Twitter @SaraGBM.
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Posted: 9/6/2012 1:56:31 PM by
Mary Kestner | with 1 comments