Richmond, Virginia — By investing in energy-efficient technologies, the Commonwealth of Virginia can reduce its electricity needs by one-fifth; deliver cleaner, less-expensive power to Virginia consumers; create thousands of new jobs; and better position the state to more cost effectively meet its future energy requirements, according to a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The report, entitled Energizing Virginia: Efficiency First, concludes that the Commonwealth can meet close to 20 percent of its electricity needs by 2025 through energy efficiency, a strategy that also would cut Virginians’ utilities bills by $15 billion by 2025 and create nearly 10,000 new jobs – the equivalent of bringing almost 100 new manufacturing facilities to the state. And by reducing electricity use, Virginia can play its part in reducing global warming and contributing to a more sustainable environment.
The findings, which include 11 recommendations for Virginia’s policymakers, were presented today at the COVES (Commonwealth of Virginia Energy & Sustainability) conference to Virginia state energy officials and the public by Dr. R. Neal Elliott, associate director for research at ACEEE, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security and environmental protection.
Prior to issuing the report, which focused exclusively on the Commonwealth, ACEEE had ranked Virginia 38th out of 50 states in employing energy-efficiency programs and technologies. Virginia is the latest in a series of states to receive ACEEE’s analysis.
“Our focus on Virginia was predicated on two factors,” Elliott said. “First, the Commonwealth can realistically achieve significant savings – reducing electricity use by almost one-fifth by the time today’s newborns reach college – by making a commitment to energy efficiency. And second, Virginia’s political climate is ripe for taking the action necessary to make real and lasting change. Given Gov. Kaine’s leadership, the state’s reputation as exceedingly well-managed, and a bipartisan commitment from state legislators, we are optimistic that Virginia can become an exemplary state in the area of energy efficiency.”
Stephen Walz, Senior Advisor for Energy Policy to the Governor, stated that, "The Virginia Energy Plan, issued by Gov. Kaine last fall, called for Virginians to take all cost-effective energy conservation and efficiency actions as the first steps towards a more secure energy future. This comprehensive analysis of how energy efficiency can help meet the Commonwealth's electricity needs will help inform the Commonwealth's analysis of our opportunities for the most effective energy efficiency actions. I am pleased to accept this report and thank ACEEE and its sponsors for their hard work in developing their recommendations."
On a sector-by-sector basis, the report concluded that by 2025, Virginia can achieve more than 20 percent reductions in electricity consumption in the following ways:
In commercial buildings, replace incandescent lamps, enhance fluorescent lighting and employ lighting control measures as well as installing new HVAC systems.
In residential housing, utilize more efficient heating and air conditioning systems, improve insulation and windows, and make improvements in residential lighting.
In industrial facilities, employ more efficient electric motors and pumps, improving duct and pipe insulation.
The study also found that energy efficiency and demand response can reduce peak demand, which occurs during those days in the summer when electricity use is highest. Energy efficiency, together with demand response – i.e. shifting consumer demand for energy from peak periods to off-peak periods – can reduce peak demand by at least 26% by 2025.
The report confirms that energy efficiency has the potential to reduce consumer electricity bills by bringing down overall consumption. And at one-third the cost of new conventional energy supply, energy efficiency has the added benefit of moderating future electricity price increases. According to the study, the recommended policies can cut customer electricity bills in Virginia by a net $15 billion by 2025.
The report provides 11 specific recommendations where policymakers can begin creating a more favorable environment toward energy-efficiency programs. ACEEE recommends, for example, that Virginia set a quantitative, long-term energy savings goal of at least 15 percent by 2022. It also suggests creating a government/industrial collaborative called the “Virginia Manufacturing Initiative” (including university-based Centers of Excellence) to address the key barriers to energy efficiency.
The study also suggests that Virginia can lead by example by improving the efficiency of its own state and local government facilities; integrating efficiency into new buildings in Virginia by revising energy building codes that could reduce energy use by 30 percent; and undertaking an assistance program that helps low-income households adopt energy efficient practices, such as home weatherization programs.
Energizing Virginia: Efficiency First can be downloaded for free at www.aceee.org/pubs/e085.htm or purchased for $65 plus $5 postage and handling from ACEEE Publications, 529 14th Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, phone: 202-507-4000, fax: 202-429-2248, e-mail: email@example.com.