Energy Efficiency

Saving $1 Trillion in Energy Costs

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: April 16th, 2012

Energy retrofit programs similar to ones promoted by electric cooperatives could save more than $1 trillion in the next decade—about 30 percent of the nation’s energy bill, according to a think tank report.

Retrofitting homes, offices and business with energy-efficient equipment could save $1 trillion in a decade, a study says. (Photo By: iStockphoto)

Retrofitting homes, offices and business with energy-efficient equipment could save $1 trillion in a decade, a study says. (Photo By: iStockphoto)

Deutsche Bank’s climate advisory unit and the Rockefeller Foundation also said upgrading or replacing inefficient equipment in homes, offices and buildings would boost job creation and slash U.S. emissions by nearly 10 percent.

“Proven technologies to retrofit buildings can both conserve energy and—even more importantly in these difficult economic times—have the potential to create a large number of jobs,” said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.

The report envisions a $279 billion investment to bring residential and commercial buildings to 21st century energy standards.

That could include items as diverse as replacing building exit signs with efficient LEDs, swapping out building control systems, and upgrading heating, ventilation and air conditioning units.

Undertaking all of the recommended retrofits would add more than 3.3 million job years to the U.S. economy, the report concluded.

Co-ops across the country have launched energy-efficiency initiatives, mostly for residences, through loan programs that cover the upfront cost of needed improvements. Members repay the loans through charges on their monthly bills.

Those programs have been developed by Midwest Energy, Hays, Kan.; members of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina; and Hoosier Energy, Bloomington, Ind., among other co-ops.

The Rockefeller Foundation study said the on-bill financing used by co-ops should be explored because it might be “critical” in promoting energy efficiency in the residential market.

“Execution will likely vary by region, and national adoption would be accelerated by the emergence of a few pioneering local and state models,” it said.

The report also recommended looking at whether Energy Service Agreements between lenders and property owners could be used to underwrite the cost of major upgrades.

Designed for efficiency retrofits of $250,000 to $10 million, those agreements typically call on a lender to pay for improvements and assume responsibility for payment of the energy bill. The lender captures the savings and charges it back to the property owner, based on consumption patterns.

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