SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Whose responsibility is energy efficiency?


Individuals, businesses, government, and energy companies each have an essential role to play in using less energy.

Using less energy means a stronger economy, less global warming pollution from power plants and vehicles and a healthier environment for all of us.

Individuals can take steps in the home or workplace. Changing wasteful behavior is one of the most important steps an individual can take in making our country more energy efficient. Being aware of your energy use and identifying ways to reduce usage both at home and at work can make a difference. Energy efficiency retrofits for homes and businesses can help the environment and provide economic benefits as savings on energy bills provide a healthy return on these investments.

All levels of government should establish, promote and enforce energy-efficient building codes, update appliance efficiency standards, and demonstrate results through lead-by-example programs. State and local governments should and are implementing energy management strategies to reduce costs. The federal government can also establish aggressive fuel economy standards to reduce pollution from cars and trucks.

A national Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (“EERS”) would be the most effective means of reaching energy efficiency goals quickly. An aggressive federal EERS would require utilities to meet certain efficiency goals over time. With such efforts, the utilities can cancel plans to build unnecessary power plants and begin replacing older, dirtier power plants with clean, renewable energy resources. SACE is actively engaged in efforts to pass an aggressive federal EERS as part of comprehensive climate legislation.

Utilities and state agencies can encourage voluntary action and offer efficiency incentive programs. Based on the findings of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, southeastern utilities should be expected to aggressively implement energy efficiency programs to achieve at least 1% energy savings per year. This would equal the efficiency results achieved by leading utilities in several other regions of the country. Energy savings would avoid the need to build power plant after power plant. SACE is working to impact these programs in the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia , and the Tennessee Valley Authority region.

Another approach is to establish an independent energy efficiency utility. This could be a state agency, a non-profit service, or a for-profit company that is funded through an efficiency surcharge on electricity sales. The energy efficiency utility would partner with customers to reduce energy waste and realize economical energy savings on a broad-scale basis. Both utility-led and independent energy efficiency programs have solid track records in other parts of the country. The choice between these approaches is largely a matter of political vision and utility leadership.

The responsibility to use energy efficiently and minimize waste falls on all of us. Individuals, businesses, governments, and utilities all have a crucial role to play in achieving the economic, social and environmental benefits of energy efficiency.