The Season Ahead - Energy Efficiency Needs to Step Up to the Plate
As we enter 2020 and think about energy efficiency, I take inspiration from the Washington Nationals' come-from-behind World Series victory last year. In some ways, energy efficiency reminds me of that 2019 Nationals team that started the season with a losing record of 19-31, but never lost confidence in their ability to score runs, get out of tough innings, and win games.
While efficiency has had some rocky games in the past (at least at the federal level), at the Alliance, we are training for the season ahead by focusing on the basics of the game – defense, offense, and team building. But we’re taking it one step further by also changing the game through strategic initiatives. Like any good team, we are also thinking ahead and laying the groundwork for the 2021 spring training season of newly elected members of Congress and potentially a new administration.
First, a Quick 2019 Post-Season Wrap-Up
- In the win column, federal appropriations for DOE efficiency programs increased significantly – including double-digit increases for advanced manufacturing, building technologies, and vehicle technologies, as well as FEMP, State Energy Program, Weatherization Assistance Program, and ARPA-E.
- A late-season win is the favorable vote on the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) to reduce energy use by 10% in the residential and commercial model energy codes.
- In a sort of delayed game, a modest one-year extension of three efficiency tax incentives for homes and buildings is helpful but falls far short of the reforms proposed in the GREEN Act. This important game will hopefully be continued this season.
- In the loss column, regulatory attacks on vehicle efficiency and lightbulbs threaten the very policies and programs that have delivered the majority of energy savings for decades.
Our 2020 Strategy
The best offense is a good defense. In addition to protecting vehicle and appliance standards, the Alliance’s playbook will include challenging proposed budget reductions or elimination of ENERGY STAR, ARPA-E, and other popular DOE energy efficiency programs.
But offense is still critical. Our offensive game will focus on extra base hits like new federal transportation policies, as well as comprehensive tax policy to scale up whole-house and commercial building deep energy retrofits. We will also work hard on singles and doubles – making sure energy efficiency provisions are included in bills that address clean energy, green jobs, infrastructure, innovation, finance, and digitalization. And we will support market-based approaches that expand on traditional regulatory approaches and gain bipartisan support.
Game changing plays. The Alliance also will be investing in changing the game by launching new initiatives like the Active Efficiency Collaborative. This exciting new platform brings together public, institutional, and private-sector partners to develop transformational new policies and programs leveraging the shift from component-based, passive efficiency measures to smart, efficient systems providing flexible services for consumers and the grid. These capabilities will help energy efficiency achieve its full technical and economic potential by improving public health, energy affordability, organizational productivity, energy security, job creation, and carbon reduction.
It’s all about teamwork. A winning season doesn’t happen without strong teamwork, and the Alliance will lean into our collaboration and coalition-building strengths. We will increase engagement with our 17 honorary board advisors to grow bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for an issue that has been traditionally nonpartisan. Supported by a new ad hoc state and local policy committee, we will also explore ways to build on the policy and program recommendations coming out of our strategic initiatives (50x50, Systems Efficiency, and Active Efficiency) to support advocacy efforts in states and cities. Finally, we will leverage our international coalitions, including the EE Global Alliance and participation in the Three Percent Club, to expand the global impact of our strategic initiatives and create a strong U.S. energy efficiency voice in international climate change and other global initiatives.
I am very excited about the upcoming season for the Alliance (and the Nationals!). As the recent EE Impact Report clearly shows, we have accomplished a lot in the past four decades – but the growing climate crisis doesn’t allow us the luxury of continuing this pace of progress. We must step up our game by playing better defense as well as stronger offense, and by changing the game itself. No one organization can do this alone. We need to work together as a growing community of government, institutional, and business leaders to bring about the kind of transformational changes necessary to protect the earth and deliver equitable economic benefits. The stakes are too high to not give it all we've got.
OK, everyone – batter up!