Save money, make money, reduce emissions: What's not to like?
By Bob Wise, Cogan Owens Cogan LLC
Bob Wise is a senior project manager at Portland-based Cogan Owens Cogan LLC.
According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, "Energy efficiency is the most abundant, cheapest, fastest approach that we have right now. And the technology exists now to implement efficiency at many different scales, from your own house or apartment or car to large office buildings and industrial facilities." Research shows that saving energy costs about 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the cost of new generation of between 7 cents and 15 cents per kilowatt hour — about three to six times the cost of energy efficiency investments.
The Northwest Power Conservation Council's 2010 Sixth Power Plan finds enough conservation to be available and cost-effective to meet 85 percent of the region’s load growth for the next 20 years. We need a strategy to capture these dramatic savings. Positive returns from efficiency investments should enable us to create a large energy efficiency investment fund that would direct capital to residential, commercial, industrial and transportation sectors. In fact, the second round of the federal Energy Efficiency Community Block Grants in 2010 sought to catalyze this kind of investment. This investment-driven model might require changing the value proposition for public utilities so they provide conservation instead of new power sources.
Strategy No. 2: Investing in renewable sources can galvanize our cleantech future.
According to Clean Edge Inc., Oregon’s abundance of low-carbon energy sources such as wind, hydroelectric, biomass, solar, ocean wave and geothermal gives Oregon a unique opportunity to establish an electric supply practically free of fossil fuels.
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