Washington, D.C. — A new study commissioned by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) concludes that implementing energy efficiency measures in Appalachia has the potential to help create tens of thousands of jobs and save billions in energy costs to Appalachian consumers over the next 20 years. Conducted for ARC by the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA), Energy Efficiency in Appalachia also finds that a bold energy efficiency initiative could cut projected energy use in the Region by up to 24 percent by the year 2030.
The jobs created and energy saved would depend upon the willingness of the Region’s business and government leaders to embrace energy efficiency policies such as those modeled in the study.
The Appalachian Region’s energy consumption is expected to increase 28 percent between 2006 and 2030, compared with a 19 percent increase forecast for the United States as a whole. Without significant investment in energy efficiency, by 2030 Appalachia is expected to need the electricity generated by 40 additional coal power plants and enough oil to fuel an additional 5.2 million cars. The ARC study models policy actions that could reduce this need across industrial, commercial, residential, and transportation sectors.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Anne B. Pope said the study “underscores the importance of energy efficiency to the economic development of the Appalachian Region” and noted that ARC was taking action on its recommendations. “The first meeting of ARC’s energy efficiency exploratory committee took place recently to develop strategies to improve the energy efficiency of our infrastructure program,” Pope stated.
Pope added that “ARC also recently launched two energy grant competitions, one focusing on renewable-energy and energy efficiency training and certification programs for adults, and the other on renewable energy and energy efficiency in K–12 schools.“
The study, completed in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and the Alliance to Save Energy, comes at a time when national attention is focused on the faltering economy and the federal government is promoting job creation through targeted spending on infrastructure and energy efficiency.
“There is an economy around energy efficiency just waiting to be unleashed,” stated SEEA Executive Director Ben Taube. “Energy efficiency is not only the cleanest, cheapest, quickest, and largest source of new power, it also creates jobs and saves billions of dollars. Appalachia’s energy efficiency resources have the potential to meet the Region’s future energy needs and ensure continued economic and environmental health.”
The most effective policies modeled in the study include incentives for commercial heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) and lighting retrofits; expansion of industrial assessment centers to help industries identify energy efficiency opportunities; support for commissioning of existing commercial buildings to ensure energy efficiency standards; clean car standards; and residential retrofit with resale energy labeling.
Situated in the eastern United States and following the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, Appalachia encompasses over 205,000 square miles and is home to 23.6 million people. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.