by Jordan Schneider
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama announced a suite of policies and programs designed to combat climate change. The President’s discussion of energy efficiency as a key emissions reduction strategy was spot-on.
Energy efficiency is a severely underappreciated and underdeveloped resource that can help make huge reductions in our global warming emissions—all while creating jobs and saving consumers money, to boot. It costs far more to generate a kilowatt of electricity at a power plant than it does to save a kilowatt through energy efficiency. Saving that electricity means we reduce demand for dirty energy from power plants, thereby reducing strain on our power infrastructure caused by spikes in demand and lowering energy prices.
The President called for cutting the energy wasted in our homes and businesses in half in the next 20 years. For years, we have called for similar reductions through construction of net-zero energy homes; setting strong energy efficient building codes for commercial and industrial buildings; establishing efficiency standards for appliances; and establishing statewide energy efficiency resource standards.
The scale of the energy efficiency program proposed by President Obama will require hundreds of thousands of workers in construction, marketing, sales, manufacturing, and energy auditing. In places such as Ohio and Illinois, we have shown how strong energy efficiency and renewable energy laws have boosted state economies.
It’s a common sense, affordable solution that will strengthen our economy and reduce our dependence on dirty energy. The President has offered federal assistance to states who design the best energy efficiency strategies, and state lawmakers should act immediately to take advantage of all the benefits of energy efficiency.