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Skaer-Tactics: What's on Energy Efficiency Horizon?

November 18, 2008
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President-elect Barrack Obama’s transition team has already started its work, and in Congress, new leadership will be elected soon. What can we expect from the new administration and a new Congress on an energy efficiency policy?

Time will tell.

As members of the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) gather this week in Carlsbad, Calif., for its first-ever annual meeting, you can bet the association will be discussing ways and means to get the ear of the new Congress. There is a lot at stake, and it’s best to get on the ground floor now.

AHRI has made it known it will seek opportunities to work with the new leaders in Washington to gain bipartisan support for policies that expedite the replacement of the “installed base” of old, less-efficient heating and cooling equipment. AHRI said its members support policies that include tax credits and incentives that not only encourage consumers to purchase new equipment, but also encourage manufacturers to develop and produce highly-efficient systems.

President-elect Obama has made it known that he wants an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS), ramping up to 15 percent savings by 2020, and such a provision will likely be considered. According to the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), other potential items for an energy bill include extensions of various energy efficiency and renewable energy tax credits plus investments in a green economy. Obama has called for an investment of $15 billion annually for 10 years.

In his proposed energy policy, Obama noted: “By upgrading a home’s furnace, sealing leaky ducts, fixing windows, and adding insulation, we can cut energy bills by 20-40 percent, and the substantial savings accrue with summer air conditioning as well as winter heating. And, by adding energy-efficient appliances and lighting, the savings are even greater.”

Obama emphasized energy, principally energy efficiency and renewable energy, as one of his key issues. Now it’s time that a president follow-up on his words and promises. And, it’s up to this industry to make sure these needed changes and improvements are, indeed, made.

Everyone in this industry can do its part by writing to the President-elect, as well as the Senators and Representatives in his/her immediate area. There will be a lot of interest in energy efficiency from Congress, given expanded Democratic majorities in general and some of the newly elected Senators in particular. ACEEE noted, while many Republicans support energy efficiency, probably a higher proportion of Democrats think government should do more to support efficiency. On the other hand, all major legislation requires 60 votes in the Senate, which means that moderate Republicans and moderate Democrats have to be on board.

As Mr. Obama said throughout his campaign, it’s time for a change. It is up to this industry to make sure the correct changes are made.

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