The Energy and Power Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing focused on private-sector successes and opportunities in energy efficient technologies. In a time of continuing economic hardship, and record government deficits, the subcommittee continued its hearing series on American Energy Security and Innovation, examining new and innovative ways to reduce waste and cut costs for businesses and the federal government.
"History teaches us that nothing is more efficient than the free market. The only thing you need to spur innovations that improve energy efficiency is profit-seeking companies responding rationally to high energy bills. Any company that doesn't use energy as wisely as possible will lose ground to a competitor that does," explained Chairman Whitfield. "Some make the mistake of thinking that efficiency only happens as a result of federal regulations or other mandates. But the stories we heard from our private sector witnesses demonstrate otherwise. Utilities, manufacturers, commercial property owners and others are continually developing clever new ways to save on their energy costs, and are not waiting for orders from Washington DC."
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) added that there is a real possibility to bring the two parties and both sides of the Capitol together on energy efficiency. "Energy efficiency is not only a bipartisan issue, but there is bicameral interest as well," said Upton. "Energy efficiency measures are some of the simplest and most affordable ways to address U.S. energy demand."
Demonstrating this bipartisan, bicameral interest, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) appeared before the subcommittee to discuss efforts in the Senate on energy efficiency.
Senator Murkowski explained that the greatest gains in energy efficiency come from the private sector, not top-down federal mandates, and expressed her intent to review current federal programs. "Given the constraints on federal finances and the failure of mandates to deliver the promised results, those of us in the federal government should also put our own house in order," said Murkowski. "As a start, I will soon be calling upon the Government Accountability Office to review current funding and past performance of residential, commercial, and industrial energy efficiency programs at DOE -- and then propose new authorization levels based on this review."
Witnesses from the private sector described technological innovations that have helped improve both efficiency and their bottom line, and discussed opportunities and challenges to advancing energy efficient technologies.
Offering a manufacturing perspective, Kevin Kosisko, Vice President of ABB North America, a Fortune 500 producer of power and automation products, explained that the private-sector is constantly innovating to stay competitive. He said, "At ABB we recognize that energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest alternative fuel. Conservation has long been touted as win-win, yielding benefits in the form of both lower costs and reduced environmental impact. But those benefits are just the beginning."
NORESCO Vice President of Business Development Britta Macintosh explained how Energy Service Performance Contracting (ESPC) reduces energy consumption and associated costs to the federal government. "ESPCs are a private sector financing mechanism that allows government to increase their energy efficiency, decrease their energy costs without upfront appropriations and the savings are guaranteed by the contractor," said Macintosh. "These contracts have delivered more than $7 billion in energy related savings to the Federal government alone and significant additional opportunities abound."