A large group of businesses, energy efficiency experts, and professionals recently sent letters to almost three-dozen governors, including Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, highlighting the multitude of cost- saving, job-creation, and pollution-reduction benefits to their states of cutting energy consumption through energy efficiency technologies.
The letters also urges the states to prioritize energy efficiency policies as their primary strategy to reduce carbon pollution under the Clean Power Plan to limit power plant emissions. (You can find the letter to Governor Rauner here and the associated factsheet, here.)
The primary message from this diverse group that includes over 40 businesses and organizations: energy efficiency is a zero-regrets energy policy:
- Consumers win with energy efficiency because they spend less money each month on utility bills;
- The economy wins because consumers have more money to spend on other goods and services, and jobs in the energy efficiency sector are often local service jobs that cannot be exported (after all, you cannot ship a commercial building to China to be weatherized); and
- We all win because smarter energy use means reducing the amount of energy generation from dangerous fossil fuels that pollute the air we breathe and exacerbate climate change.
See this excerpt from the letter sent to Governor Rauner:
"By reducing the need for power generation, energy efficiency provides emissions reductions quickly, locally, and at a lower cost than other compliance options. It is also the only option that achieves sustained local job creation and concurrently reduces emissions while mitigating the cost impacts of Clean Power Plan implementation and giving Illinois residents and businesses control over their energy bills. Actions such as improving manufacturing energy efficiency, reducing commercial buildings' energy use, and delivering residential energy efficiency upgrades are the quickest and cheapest means to meet energy demand while simultaneously improving air quality."
The letter goes on to acknowledge that many states, including Illinois, have policies that promote the use of energy efficiency. Illinois has both building codes and programs offered through the state's electric and natural gas utilities that reduce demand for power by offering consumers tools to use less energy. I've blogged serval times about the success of Illinois' Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS, sometimes knows as "EEPS") that was passed in 2007 by the Illinois General Assembly.
Barely scratching the surface, Clean Jobs Bill needed
While Illinois has a track record of success as a result of the 2007 law, we are barely scratching the surface of the state's energy savings potential. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) recently analyzed the state's existing EERS and found that it is failing to meet its statutory goals of reducing energy demand by 2 percent per year, which is leaving millions of dollars of cost-savings potential on the table as a result. My colleague Noah Garcia recently blogged about DCEO's report and noted NRDC's role in the Clean Jobs Coalition, which has been calling for reforms to the state's energy policy by urging passage of the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill.
The Clean Jobs Bill is smart energy policy that puts consumers, job creators, and the environment first by expanding the state's goals to reduce electricity usage by 20 percent by 2025, which the Citizens Utility Board estimates will help save consumers a whopping $1.6 billion. The Clean Jobs Bill also promotes a much-needed fix to the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that would help ensure we are building wind and solar for 35 percent of our state's power by 2030.
The 40-plus entities that signed the letter to Governor Rauner urging his support for increased use of energy efficiency have it right, and so do the approximately 300 members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition that have been calling for the same.
There's no need to delay; the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill is a turnkey solution that can unlock over a billion dollars in savings that could generate tens of thousands of jobs throughout the state, which is why it's not surprisingly that a bipartisan majority of members in the Illinois General Assembly support its passage. Hopefully 2016 will be the year that Illinois chalks up an easy win by sending a bill that expands energy efficiency to the Governor's desk.