The best way to avoid using dangerous and dirty sources of energy—and thus avoid catastrophes like the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant—is to invest in energy efficiency. For example, taking advantage of all cost-effective opportunities to improve energy efficiency in the United States would have the same impact as building more than 100 nuclear reactors in the next 10 years. 
The benefits of energy efficiency extend beyond safer energy, and some states have ramped up efficiency programs in recent years to take advantage of these benefits. In Maryland, Gov. O’Malley’s administration developed an ambitious goal to reduce per capita electricity consumption with the EmPOWER Maryland Act. While this program has already saved millions of dollars for ratepayers, trained more than 1,000 workers, and avoided millions of pounds of harmful pollution, it is currently failing to achieve anticipated savings because of poor program management.
The problem lies with the Public Service Commission (PSC), which is responsible for ensuring that utilities are doing everything they can to meet the electricity savings goals of EmPOWER Maryland. The PSC has failed in this directive, however. Lengthy approval and review processes, combined with unclear yet restrictive guidelines, have greatly hindered utility progress.
Frontier Group’s new report, Falling Behind on Energy Effiency, highlights the lack of progress utilities have made to date and the role the PSC has played in holding the state back from reaching its full potential for energy efficiency.
Read an article in the Baltimore Sun about the report.
 Comparison based on nuclear power’s ability to reduce global warming pollution. McKinsey estimates that investing $520 billion in energy efficiency measures would reduce annual emissions of global warming pollution by 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by 2020. Based on Frontier Group calculations, that level of pollution reduction could be achieved by 100 GW of new nuclear reactors, operating at 90 percent capacity, if it fully displaced existing coal.