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U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D. VA) wants to help businesses save money by being more energy efficient:

The aggressive promotion of efficiency programs could cut $169 billion a year from the energy bills of U.S. business by 2030, according to a report whose authors include Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat.

The analysis from the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy says the U.S. could double its energy productivity -- the level of economic output divided by the energy used to achieve it. That would create thousands of jobs and save homeowners and businesses billions of dollars in annual energy costs, according to the report.

Policymakers should encourage more spending on efficiency programs through more-favorable tax treatment and other inducements, including a program, modeled after the Education Department’s “Race to the Top,” that offers states financial incentives for energy gains.  - Bloomberg, 2/7/13

Warner has been working closely with National Grid U.S. President Tom King and created a diverse coalition made up of energy leaders that includes representatives from energy utilities, academia, industry and environmental groups.  Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is also on the commission along with officials from Dow Chemical Co., the Natural Resources Defense Council, Southern Co. and Citigroup Inc.:
“The Alliance Commission’s recommendations are an innovative approach to greatly increasing our nation’s use of energy efficiency, which represents a huge – and largely untapped – opportunity,” said Fred Krupp, President of EDF.  “Reducing wasted energy through efficiency is a true win-win solution that cuts harmful pollution and saves people money on their energy bills.”

The Commission’s recommendations are wide-ranging, covering multiple sectors of the economy.  The recommendations include: increased stringency of energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, creation of financing mechanisms that bring down the cost of energy efficiency projects, reform of utility regulatory policies to enable full use of cost-effective energy efficiency and greater support for research and development.

Achieving the Commission’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 would:

    Add 1.3 million jobs;
    Cut average household energy costs by more than $1,000 a year;
    Save American businesses $169 billion a year;
    Increase gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 2 percent;
    Decrease energy imports by more than $100 billion a year; and
    Reduce CO2 emissions by one-third. - Environmental Defense Fund, 2/7/13

EDF firmly supports the Commission's recommendations that deal with energy efficiency finance and smart grid policies.  The Commission encourages state and local governments to use On-Bill Repayment (OBR) programs which provide funding for clean energy investments at attractive terms.  They rely only on private third-party financing.  
OBR programs offer an opportunity for residential and commercial utility customers to finance energy efficiency projects with loans repaid through their utility bills and financed at no additional cost to ratepayers.  The Commission also recommends reforms to state utility regulatory policies that would break down barriers to utility investment in energy efficiency and enable greater use of advanced new technologies that create a smarter and cleaner electric power grid. - Environmental Defense Fund, 2/7/13
The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has endorsed the Alliance to Save Energy's Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy's goal of doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030:

"The commission's report looks at the full range of measures to increase energy productivity, and expanding public transportation choices is considered a central element in a comprehensive, forward-looking and transformative national strategy for energy productivity," said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy, who serves as a commissioner on the alliance's bipartisan panel. "Investing in public transportation has the dual benefit of improving energy productivity while creating jobs." - Progressive Railroading, 2/7/13
The efficiency gains from the Commission's recommendations could help U.S. households $1,000 a year from their energy bills along with business savings.  It's also possible that economic growth could increase 2% and lower energy imports by over a $100 billion a year.   The Commission's report also recommends the development of a ratings system for buildings based on how well they retain energy; encouraging companies to conserve; and providing more efficiency workforce training.  The report said the measures could also add 1.3 million jobs to the U.S. economy by 2030 and reduce carbon emissions by a third:

National Governors Association Chairman Gov. Mark Warner, D-Va., addresses the National Education Summit on High Schools general session on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2005 in Washington.  The National Education Summit on High Schools is sponsored by the National Governors Association and is being attended by many of the nation's governors.  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
"This is an issue we can get done," Senator Mark Warner, co-chairman of the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy set up by the Alliance to Save Energy, said at a news conference.

Energy efficiency is one of the few areas of energy policy that analysts say might gain traction among deeply divided lawmakers this year.

Warner, a Virginia Democrat, said there was bipartisan support for efficiency measures in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Members of the panel were scheduled to meet officials at the White House on Thursday to discuss the report. - Reuters, 2/7/13

We shall see.  I hope to hear more about this Commission's report in the upcoming months and see which of it's recommendations will be able to get through congress.  This is an ambitious plan and it sounds promising but the devil is in the details.  Stay tuned.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 11:16 PM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Climate Hawks.

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