We Can Do More with Less

, By Clean Wisconsin

Energy efficiency report released today shows savings of 23%, $1.2 trillion

MADISON — A groundbreaking study released today by McKinsey & Co. reiterates the importance of energy efficiency for its impact on both the environment and the economy.

“Energy efficiency is a top priority,” says Keith Reopelle, senior policy director for Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “Energy efficiency gives us the opportunity to do more with less and is the smartest way to cut our energy consumption and hasten the transition to a clean energy economy.”

Much of the energy efficiency programs in effect are piecemeal, geared toward the consumers of one utility, of one economic sector, of one community. The report, “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,” found that by recognizing energy efficiency as a resource, taking an integrated, holistic approach that aligns consumers and communities with utilities, regulators, manufacturers and government agencies, and launching an innovative portfolio of energy efficiency tools, we could cut U.S. energy consumption by 23 percent over the next decade and consumers would achieve a gross savings (not including related investments in energy efficiency) of $1.2 trillion by 2020, which is about the same amount as the 2009 federal deficit.

For Wisconsin, a state that has no fossil fuels and spends over $6 billion annually to import and burn out-of-state coal for electricity, this report suggests that the efficiency goal recommended by the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force reducing electricity use by 2 percent may be very modest.

“Rather than taking minimal steps, we should be doing everything we can to maximize energy efficiency,” says Reopelle, “including ramping up our own energy efficiency efforts and goals in Wisconsin.”

Other facts from the McKinsey report include:

  • Between 600,000 and 900,000 jobs could be created in 12 years through energy efficiency programs.
  • Energy efficiency would reduce the need for expensive new coal plants and reduce carbon emissions by up to 1.1 gigatons.

“This study is further evidence that reducing greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning to a clean energy economy will save consumers money and create lots of jobs, especially in a state like Wisconsin that has no fossil fuels,” says Reopelle.