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June 9, 2008: Report Says Energy Efficiency Can Benefit State and U.S. Economies

WASHINGTON - A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) concludes that energy efficiency can contribute to the growth of state economies, and, by extension, to the United States as a whole.

The report, “Positive Returns: State Energy-Efficiency Analyses Can Inform U.S. Energy Policy Assessments,” concludes from a review of 48 state- and regional-level efficiency potential studies, performed over the last 15 years, that energy efficiency will result in a small but net positive benefit for the American economy as a result of policies that emphasize investment-led energy efficiency improvements. According to ACEEE, these studies can inform the direction the United States should take to ensure viable energy security and climate change solutions.

Currently, national-level energy policy assessments lack a robust representation of the many cost-effective contributions of energy efficiency measures, says ACEEE.

“Energy efficiency can provide a significantly large contribution toward stabilizing energy prices and limiting emissions of greenhouse gases,” said John A. “Skip” Laitner, ACEEE director of economic analysis and lead author of the new report. “It is important for policymakers to realize both the scale of this opportunity and the positive economic benefits provided by an emphasis on greater energy productivity.”

“As it becomes more apparent that climate change legislation must be enacted, it is critically important for policymakers to be informed about energy efficiency’s contribution to the solution,” stated ACEEE Researcher Vanessa McKinney, co-author of the report. “It is very clear that policymakers are not getting the full picture when energy efficiency’s potential is omitted from policy assessments.”

Key findings of the report include:

• The set of studies reviewed in this report demonstrate an average of 23 percent efficiency gain with a nearly 2 to 1 benefit-cost ratio;

• A 20 percent efficiency gain by 2030 could provide an estimated 800,000 net jobs while a 30 percent efficiency improvement might generate as many as 1.3 million net jobs; and

• Efficiency-led policies, in effect an emphasis on greater energy productivity, would likely increase the nation’s economy (as measured by gross domestic product or GDP) by about 0.1 percent by 2030.

“This analysis clearly indicates that energy efficiency offers the potential to grow the economy and jobs, not harm them,” said Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director. “As a result, energy efficiency investments are probably the best, first strategy for minimizing the costs of climate policies at both the state and federal levels.”

Publication date: 06/09/2008

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