Murkowski Pushes Energy Efficiency, Opposes New Mandate

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today reiterated her belief that enhanced energy efficiency should be central to the nation’s energy policy, but said she opposes legislation that would impose an efficiency mandate on small retail energy providers.
The language under consideration would require retail electric and natural gas distributors to reduce their customers’ energy consumption – something they have little direct control over.
“While utilities can educate consumers, perform energy audits and provide incentives like rebates for efficient appliances, they simply cannot get ‘behind the meter’ and control consumers’ actions,” Murkowski said in a written statement.       
Murkowski’s comments were entered into the record today at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on legislation to create a federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Murkowski raised a series of concerns with the proposal, which would require retail distributors in the electricity and natural gas sectors to achieve annual savings targets starting in 2011.
“While energy efficiency will play a key role in our efforts to bolster our energy security, an aggressive federal mandate could prove difficult to implement, administer and comply with,” Murkowski said. “We risk setting ourselves back by trying to move forward too quickly, without a full understanding of how such a standard would work.”
The proposed EERS would establish a standalone efficiency mandate that would ultimately raise energy costs for consumers, creates a large bureaucracy and might not result in the anticipated power savings, Murkowski said.
“I have serious doubts about the Department of Energy’s ability to measure efficiency on a national level, and remain unconvinced that this policy would mesh neatly with other proposals currently under consideration,” Murkowski said.
Energy efficiency must be part of our energy mix, but creating a separate program is not the best use of government resources, Murkowski said. The energy committee has made good progress on energy efficiency legislation, with two provisions already marked up and another that will soon be up for consideration. 
“Energy efficiency must continue to be a viable part of our energy mix, just as solar, geothermal and wind are,” Murkowski said. “But I am simply not convinced that this bill will strengthen our energy policy. At this point, a stand-alone standard is best left at the state level, and our committee’s time is best spent on other mechanisms that will promote energy savings.”