Murkowski: Renewables, Efficiency Offer Real Opportunity

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to examine opportunities to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency efforts in the United States.

Murkowski opened the hearing by acknowledging the significant progress made in both sectors in recent years.

“Many renewables are now cost competitive without subsidies in certain parts of the country, and that’s leading to greater investment. In 2018, U.S. corporations broke previous records by signing contracts for 8.6 gigawatts of wind and solar production,” Murkowski said. “We have also made great progress on energy efficiency—an often untold story—but there are still plenty more ways to increase efficiency going forward.”

Murkowski went on to highlight examples from her home state of Alaska, citing the impact of efficiency upgrades in Yakutat, and the cascading benefits of continued investment in hydropower in the small fishing village of Pelican.

“There is a lot of good happening with renewable energy and energy efficiency right now.  And there’s more to come,” Murkowski said. “There are dozens of communities in Alaska that can benefit from greater efficiency and the adoption of renewables. The same is true all across the country. Our challenge, here, is to ensure that the costs of new technologies continue to decline—and to make sure that upfront costs don’t stall out needed or beneficial investment.”

The hearing featured Department of Energy (DOE) Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel Simmons, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Director Martin Keller, Bruno Grunau from the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Alaska, and representatives from Solar Holler and the Alliance to Save Energy.

Simmons testified that “While other countries’ policies have resulted in higher energy prices and increased CO2 emissions, in the U.S. we have proven that through the power of innovation, we can advance affordable, reliable energy and protect the environment at the same time.”

During the hearing, Murkowski noted the impressive work being done at Alaska’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC), which is building homes that use 80 percent less energy than comparable homes built without their assistance.

Grunau, Chief Programs Engineer for CCHRC, testified that “Energy efficiency offers the greatest return on investment for governments and individuals, and spreads benefits to consumers, communities, and the planet.”

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.

Related Issues: Energy