At the EE Global Forum, ASE Prize Highlights Chile’s Efficiency Achievements

Chile’s Vice Min of Energy visited Washington, D.C. this week, to receive the EE Visionary Award  from the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE).  The venue for the honor, the Energy Efficiency Global Forum, is the world’s premier energy efficiency (EE) conference and exposition, this year with a record-breaking attendance of 800 people from 39 countries.  The award recognizes Chile’s impressive recent advances in the EE sector and firmly names Chile as a Latin American leader in efficiency policies, measures and technologies.

Launched in 2007, the EE Global Forum aims to “demonstrate that energy efficiency is the cheapest, quickest and cleanest resource for meeting the globe’s ever‐increasing energy demand.”  Its attendees come from all sectors relevant to EE:  government representatives, non-profits and the entire range of private end-use companies.  And their numbers have grown significantly every year.  Clearly, receiving the ASE award for being a Visionary country is quite an honor.

The Vice Minister, Hon. Jimena Bronfman, accepted the award on behalf of Chile and its National Program for Energy Efficiency (or PPEE by its Spanish initials).  She stated that EE is “a key element in our long-term strategy for a better use of our energy resources."  In the past few years, this strategy has pushed some major strides, including: 

  • Launching an EE labeling system
  • Distributing tens of thousands of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
  • Establishing South America’s first residential buildings codes for EE
  • Creating a National EE Agency independent of the New Ministry of Energy, which has its own EE Division
  • Writing a ten-year National EE Strategy, dubbed “E3,” which will be officially presented by Energy Minister Raineri in July

In 2008, when Chile’s hydro-dependent grid faced an energy crisis due to serious droughts, PPEE launched an intense public education program to raise EE and conservation awareness among Chileans.  The results were remarkable:  net energy demand growth in the grid serving 93% of the population was -1.2% that year, even though the economy grew 3.2%.  In 2009, net energy demand remained negative, at -0.2%.  To put this feat in context, before the drought energy use in the same grid grew by 4.5% in 2007 and by 6.5% in 2006.

All of these achievements deserve recognition.  And we have reason to believe that Chile will continue its aggressive EE initiatives.  For example, there has been work underway to introduce a decoupling initiative.  Written with the assistance of energy experts from Italy and California, it would separate, or “de-couple” the electric utilities’ profits from the amount of electric generation – thus incentivizing the utilities to encourage efficiency among their customers.  Hopefully, Minister Raineri and the new administration will continue with this important endeavor.

Vice Minister Bronfman concluded her acceptance remarks with the declaration that by 2020, “EE should cover for 20% of [Chile’s] increase in energy demand.”  That truly is a visionary target – and an attainable one – as long as the country maintains its impressive momentum.