Efficiency is your best energy investment
By Peter West
Energy Trust of Oregon
More than ever before, Oregon business leaders are identifying energy efficiency as an investment priority. In a time of rising energy prices and shrinking or static revenues, energy-efficiency investments can reduce costs, trim operating expenses and improve production efficiency with relatively short paybacks. Reducing energy use is a good return on investment because it directly lowers your operating costs. And significant savings can be achieved with available and affordable technologies. And, by reducing energy consumption into the future, energy-saving strategies provide an important hedge against cost volatility.
While cost savings is the primary reason businesses choose to make energy-efficiency improvements or build high-performance buildings, other benefits support the business case for these investments. Many energy-saving strategies — such as lighting improvements and high-efficiency HVAC systems — result in more comfortable, attractive and productive environments for customers and employees.
Reducing energy use also supports the sustainability goals that many Oregon businesses and communities have adopted and helps build employee, customer and community loyalty. And, with carbon-emissions regulation likely in the future, investing in efficiency allows enterprises to shrink their carbon profile now for a competitive advantage when regulation emerges.
With all its benefits, energy-efficiency investment is hindered by one obstacle: cost. To save money in the long term, businesses must have capital to invest in energy-saving equipment and high-performance design and construction. Incentives available through the Energy Trust of Oregon, combined with Oregon Department of Energy Business Energy Tax Credits, help Oregon businesses overcome the financial barrier by shortening payback so efficiency can be an immediate priority.
Peter West is the director of energy programs at the Energy Trust of Oregon Inc.
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