>>Obama puts efficiency first
August 6, 2008, 3:50 pm
Filed under: Policy, Utilities

Sen. Barack Obama’s major energy policy speech on Monday hit a lot of the right notes.

A few high points:

He notes, correctly, that the most cost-effective way to reduce our use of imported oil — and fossil fuel generally — is to improve our efficiency.  We need to sharply reduce the rate at which we waste energy.

Accordingly, Obama calls for a 15% reduction in the use of electricity by 2030. This would save consumers $130 billion and create a lot of jobs.  How?  Part of the plan is to weatherize a million homes per year. That has to be done by local contractors and handymen, using building materials manufactured here in the United States. Part of it is to revise building codes, improving the energy performance of existing buildings by 25% and of new construction by 50% — again, using local labor and materials.

The federal government should lead the effort by reducing its own energy use by 25% over the next five years and by 40% by 2030.

On the utility side, Obama proposes decoupling utility company profits from the amount of electricity generated — “flipping” their business model to reward efficiency gains. To do that, they’ll have to adopt smart-grid technology nationwide, and he offers federal help to make the necessary infrastructure upgrades.

It was a good sensible speech. There’s hope.

Read the transcript here.


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