When you stop wasting energy

This blog was written by John D. Wilson, former Deputy Director for Regulatory Policy at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | February 18, 2011 | Energy Efficiency

Well, you stop wasting energy!

Five months ago, a new tactic in the fight to keep wasting electricity emerged. Simply deny that saving energy saves energy. It completely boggles my mind that anyone would think that the way to build support for clean, cheap energy resource innovation is to insist first that it is a waste of effort to stop wasting energy.

A vigorous response to this misplaced critique is offered by David Goldstein at NRDC:

Throughout almost four decades of societal progress in getting more work out of less energy, those who deny the promise of energy efficiency have persisted in a bizarre claim: any energy savings from efficiency are offset by activities that demand additional energy consumption.

And of course the “rebound effect” is not news to experts in the field. The direct rebound effect is already considered in professionally-conducted energy efficiency studies; their findings do not need to be further adjusted (which would be double-counting). The indirect rebound effect (the income effect) is already considered in professionally-conducted global macroeconomic studies.

It is certainly reasonable to argue that these studies don’t quite adequately account for the effects. Models aren’t perfect. Actual experience is used to validate and refine or adjust forecasts. It’s what professionals in these fields do, and while it is never perfect it can be done pretty well.

But it is absolute rubbish to imply that in past studies, leading firms and international organizations have failed to take the rebound effect into account when constructing mitigation scenarios. There is not a risk that proposed strategies “risk a dangerous over-reliance on energy efficiency” in climate mitigation strategies. And it is reckless and unprofessional to state so when plenty of experts have demonstrated exactly how the rebound effect is already taken into account.

And now I am going to try and stop wasting my energy arguing this nonsense.

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