Administrator Gina McCarthy, Remarks by EPA at the Energy Efficiency Forum 2016 in Washington, DC, As Prepared
June 23, 2016
I thank Johnson Controls for hosting this event, and for having me. It’s great to be here.
I love energy efficiency! I run around talking about it all the time, but you’re the ones actually making it happen in the real world. And you’re doing it in such creative, innovative ways. So I want lead off by saying thank you to everyone here for the work you’re doing.
Energy efficiency is a proven strategy to protect the environment, grow the economy, and create jobs – all at once. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Today, an additional 1.9 million Americans are employed, in whole or in part, in the energy efficiency sector. And the Department of Energy projects more than a quarter-million new hires in 2016 alone.
Meanwhile, the market for energy efficiency in buildings is growing fast – drawing $63.6 billion in revenue just in 2015.
Since EPA’s Energy Star program launched in 1992, we’ve been able to leverage energy efficiency to prevent 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and save families and businesses $430 billion on their utility bills.
Energy Star now has 16,000 retail, utility, public sector, and business leaders on our partners’ roster. And, by the way, more than half of the Fortune 100 companies are on that list.
The point is, energy efficiency is a smart bet, every-time. Families know it, businesses know it, and states know it.
Nationwide, state energy efficiency programs reduced CO2 emissions by 75 million metric tons in 2011.
Today, every state has some form of demand-side energy efficiency policy, and many are already achieving significant reductions in electricity demand.
23 states have mandatory energy efficiency requirements, and a handful of others have voluntary targets or allow energy efficiency to be used in meeting their mandatory clean energy goals.
Massachusetts and Vermont are achieving energy savings of 1.5% or more every year. And those are cumulative savings. Over a five- or ten-year time-horizon – those resources really add up.
And we’re seeing that innovative local projects can make a big difference, especially in low-income communities.
As of last year, Energy Outreach Colorado saved low-income utility customers enough natural gas and electricity to avoid 28,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions – that’s equal to the annual energy-related emissions of 2,500 American homes.
California’s Chumash Community Energy Program is providing training and apprenticeships to tribal leaders and members, so they can seize the amazing job opportunities that are opening up in the energy efficiency and renewables. Because they know that’s where the jobs of the future are.
States aren’t taking these steps because they have to, they’re doing it because it’s smart. And EPA agrees.
That’s why energy efficiency is a crucial part of our Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from the U.S. power sector – our nation’s biggest contributor to climate change.
Last week, we proposed additional details about the optional Clean Energy Inventive Program – or C.E.I.P. – which was included in the final Clean Power Plan.
The C.E.I.P. is designed to help states, tribes, and power plants meet their goals under the Clean Power Plan by encouraging early investment in zero-emitting renewable energy generation, and removing barriers to investment in solar and energy efficiency measures in low-income communities.
It’s all about empowering states and facilities to use clean energy and energy efficiency to meet their emission reduction targets – where and how it makes sense for them.
So, even though the Supreme Court has stayed the Clean Power Plan for now, it did not tell EPA to stop all work related to planning for a low carbon future.
Many states have indicated they will be moving forward voluntarily to cut carbon pollution from power plants. And they’ve asked EPA to continue providing resources and tools to support those efforts – the C.E.I.P. is one of them.
So we’re continuing to provide that assistance to anyone who wants to be prepared to make timely decisions when the stay is ultimately lifted and the Clean Power Plan is upheld – which I am confident it will be.
EPA is focused more than ever on continuing to lift America’s energy efficiency game. It’s a central component of our fight against climate change, and our transition to a low carbon future.
And for anyone who’s been living under a rock, I want to make clear that that transition is already underway.
Global investments in renewable energy hit a world record in 2015 at $286 billion… that’s more than double what was invested in fossil fuels.
And every year, we’re seeing utilities and states spend more than $7 billion to make energy efficiency more accessible to American consumers and businesses.
The train has left the station. But we’re going to need all hands on deck – including energy efficiency leaders like you – to make sure that our transition continues to move ahead at full speed.
So now, we keep going.
We step up our investments in innovation and finding new ways to achieve greater efficiency.
We go out into our communities and make sure families, businesses, and decision makers know that energy efficiency is a viable option to help protect the planet and lower utility bills.
We work with low-income communities to squeeze every possible benefit out of local energy efficiency programs.
And we continue providing the information and tools that states, tribes, and utilities need to leverage efficiencies, where it makes sense, to meet their greenhouse gas reduction goals.
There’s really so much more we can do together. Keep up the amazing work. Thank you.