Remarks to USEA/Johnson Controls 20th Annual Energy Efficiency Forum
*** As Prepared for Delivery ***
"Thank you for that kind introduction, and for inviting me here today to speak about the important role of energy efficiency in our national energy policy.
"Simply put, energy efficiency offers us the quickest and easiest way to improve our energy and environmental policy.
"Efficiency provides us with an opportunity for an easy "twofer" - it not only reduces the amount of energy we need, it also cuts the amount of carbon we emit.
"Before we sing the praises of efficiency, though, I think it's important that we all understand what we mean when we talk about improving efficiency.
"Efficiency can mean many different things to different people - and that's OK. To some it's involves cutting operating costs; to others it may mean more efficient appliances; and to others it may be a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Just as there is no single silver bullet for solving our energy challenges, there's no one answer for determining how best to deploy efficiency measures.
"There's no question that the nation, and indeed the world, must step up its energy efficiency efforts. And as the Alliance to Save Energy likes to say, we should improve our efficiency because it's the "cheapest, quickest, cleanest resource we have."
"Since the 1970s oil embargo, the United States has gained more energy capacity through efficiency than from all other increases of domestic energy production combined.
"Efficiency improvements may not grab the headlines, but it's the little things - such as weatherizing the family home, increasing fuel efficiency in cars, switching to high-efficiency light bulbs - that make a real and lasting impact on our energy consumption.
"The great thing about efficiency is that it doesn't mean we have to do without all the things we enjoy. Efficiency doesn't force people to use less energy - just use energy better.
"So efficiency can help us not only use our energy resources more effectively, it's also the place we should look first when we talk about addressing climate change.
"As we move forward with the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, it's important to take stock of what we've done in the past.
"Congress enacted strong energy efficiency measures in both the 2005 Energy Policy Act and the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. In those bills we addressed everything from energy efficiency savings in buildings, appliances and lighting products, to improved gas mileage in vehicles.
"While we succeeded in passing a number of efficiency measures, our batting average has not been so good when it comes to the implementation of those policies. We've also fallen short when it comes to fully funding some of our efficiency programs.
"Although the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 injected money into several efficiency programs that had been previously starved for funding, such as competitive grants for states and Energy Star rebates, many programs continue to be left out of the administration's budget.
"It's my hope that the stimulus money will itself be efficiently used to promote our energy efficiency goals. We must, however, be mindful that this funding is only temporary. As we examine future policy initiatives, it's important that we follow through on previous efforts before creating new programs and new layers of bureaucracy.
American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009
"Currently we are moving a bill to the Senate floor that includes a number of provisions that ensure that energy efficiency is a key part of our national energy plan.
"These include appliance standards, improvements to the industrial technology program, improved integration between water use and energy consumption and development, and options to enhance the performance of our new and existing building stock.
"Over the last several years the administration, Congress and efficiency advocates have sought options to improve consensus appliance standards that increase efficiency and have the potential to shrink the utility bills of average American families.
"The appliance title establishes energy efficiency standards for several new consumer products and make operational changes in the Appliance Standards Program at the Department of Energy with regards to petition processes, awareness and rebate programs.
"While I don't think Congress should be in the business of legislating appliance standards, the truth is that technology sometimes moves faster than the DOE rulemaking process. Hopefully these changes will help DOE get back on track.
"The title will also strengthen the already successful Energy Star program that consumers know well and depend on for guidance when purchasing appliances for their homes.
Industrial and Manufacturing Title
"The industrial and manufacturing title addresses our need to innovate within the industrial sector in order to remain competitive internationally.
"Cutting costs through energy efficiency and emerging technologies will allow America to become a leader in manufacturing once again.
"Looking toward the future of manufacturing, this bill will reinforce one of DOE's most effective programs, the Industrial Research and Assessment Centers, which identifies and promotes sustainable manufacturing practices and, perhaps more importantly, provides workforce training to implement energy efficient technologies.
"We can have the best ideas in the world when it comes to energy efficiency, but if we don't have the training and workforce to implement those ideas, they do us little good.
"Over the last few decades, our global competitors have used efficiency improvements to increase their productivity and capture high-value manufacturing capabilities and products that were invented here in the U.S.
"We must strengthen our industrial competitiveness and restore our status as a manufacturing leader. Taking steps to improve the energy efficiency of our manufacturing sector will help us achieve this goal.
Energy Water Integration Title
"The energy water integration title is intended to provide the information and direction needed for governmental entities to better integrate energy and water policy.
"Such efforts will become increasingly important as growing populations, drought, environmental needs, and a changing climate continue to affect both energy and water resources.
"There's no question that energy and water resources are the foundations of our economy and are essential to our nation's future and security.
"All forms of energy production require water, some more than others. Therefore improving our energy will also help preserve our scarce fresh water resources.
Building Efficiency Title
"The final area I would like to talk about today is building efficiency.
"An enormous opportunity exists for making our aging building stock more energy efficient. By some estimates, buildings account for as much as 40 percent of this country's total greenhouse gas emissions.
"We should seize this opportunity for savings, but we must be careful in the policy options we pursue.
"One way to squeeze more energy efficiency out of our commercial and private buildings is through the implementation of a national building code. But at what cost? As is often the case, what's right for one state may not be right for other states.
"Building codes have traditionally been left to state governments - and even to local governments - and for good reason. There's no one-size-fits-all building code that can account for the unique characteristics of each state.
"Before we create new national standards for buildings, we need to understand how they impact construction companies and homeowners.
"I believe the best path forward is to encourage states to adopt local building codes that best fit their needs.
"To that end, the federal government should empower states through incentives as opposed to forcing a top-down mandate on them.
Looking To The Future
"While these measures will enhance the way we use energy, the real potential for savings is in tying all of these processes together into a single, interconnected system.
"While we have so far nibbled around the edges with individual efficiency measures, the future of building design is making sure all of the different components work together to maximize energy efficiency.
"I think that's a truly worthwhile goal.
Energy Bill Outlook
"Just as efficiency doesn't grab headlines, it's also just one part of the energy bill - and not the most controversial part either.
"When I leave here this morning, I'm heading straight to the markup of the energy bill.
"As you know, we've been working on this bill for several months now. That may seem like a long time to some of you who have watched this process before. But good legislation takes time, especially when you're dealing with the kind of complex and often controversial issues as we are on the energy committee.
"With luck, we may finish today. If not, it's my hope that we can wrap things up by the end of the week.
"While I don't support everything in the bill, I think we've done some good work.
"In addition to enhancing efficiency efforts, the bill will boost investment in renewable energy development, open new areas in the Gulf of Mexico to energy production, improve the nation's aging electrical grid, and reaffirm our commitment to nuclear power.
"Chairman Bingaman has been a good partner in steering this bill through the committee. What we have now isn't perfect, but it's a bill I can support.
"My concern is that Democrats will try to weaken the bill on the Senate floor. As it is, this bill strikes a delicate balance, and any attempt to reverse compromises made in the committee on individual titles will only increase opposition to the overall bill.
"I also believe it would be unwise to try to marry the energy bill with climate legislation from the House.
"Combining an energy bill, which contains a controversial renewables mandate for utilities, with a cap-and-trade proposal, as the majority leader has indicated, is simply asking for trouble.
"Separately, these two bills face an uphill climb. Together, they make getting to 60 extremely difficult.
"Opposition to provisions such as an RES and cap and trade are not partisan, but regional. Republicans and moderate Democrats share many of the same concerns. That's why I think it's best to proceed separately on these two bills.
"As you know, the focus in the Senate has turned to health care reform. That will likely delay consideration of an energy bill on the floor until the fall.
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