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Sustainable Energy Coalition
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 31, 2004
4:24 PM
CONTACT: Sustainable Energy Coalition 
Ronnie Kweller, 202-530-2203
Karl Gawell, 202-454-5264
 
Coalition Urges Congress to Double Energy Efficiency Funding
 

WASHINGTON - March 31 - In letters delivered today to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 21 organizations - including member groups in the Sustainable Energy Coalition - called for a doubling of federal support for energy efficiency programs over the next five years. They also called for increased federal support for the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) geothermal program and the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) geothermal resource assessment program.

The letters, delivered to the chairmen and ranking members of the Interior Subcommittees of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, offered detailed recommendations for funding levels in the U.S. Department of Energy's energy efficiency programs as well as the U.S. Department of Interior's geothermal programs.

Stressing that federal "energy efficiency programs are remarkably effective," the groups noted that "the proposed FY 2005 energy efficiency budget would slightly decrease funding for the third year in a row." This is a trend that should be reversed, they argued.

"During a time of natural gas shortages, energy and homeland security challenges, air quality and climate change problems, and increased demands on the power grid, energy efficiency can provide both immediate action and long-term solutions that will help balance energy supply and demand, stimulate the economy, keep consumer energy bills affordable, and improve air quality. Reducing energy demand through energy efficiency programs is critical to avoiding more electricity blackouts and natural gas and gasoline price spikes."

Accordingly, the groups called for "a doubling of federal support for energy efficiency over the next five years (2005-2009) - specifically, in 2005, a 20% increase in funding for DOE energy efficiency RD&D programs as well as the increase requested in the President's budget for weatherization."

The full text of the letter, the list of signing organizations, and the detailed budget recommendations follow.

The Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of over 80 national and state business, environmental, consumer, and energy policy organizations that collectively represent several thousand companies, community groups, and municipal utilities. Founded in 1992, the Sustainable Energy Coalition promotes increased use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.

March 31, 2004

The Honorable Charles Taylor, Chairman

Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Norm Dicks, Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior

United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Conrad Burns, Chairman

Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Byron Dorgan, Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairmen/Ranking Members:

As you begin drafting the fiscal year 2005 Interior appropriations bill we respectfully request that you support robust funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. During a time of natural gas shortages, energy and homeland security challenges, air quality and climate change problems, and increased demands on the power grid, energy efficiency can provide both immediate action and long-term solutions that will help balance energy supply and demand, stimulate the economy, keep consumer energy bills affordable, and improve air quality. Reducing energy demand through energy efficiency programs is critical to avoiding more electricity blackouts and natural gas and gasoline price spikes. For example, a recent American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy study found that reduced demand for natural gas due to energy efficiency measures could lower current high natural gas prices by 20% in the next few years. These high prices have already caused plant closings and loss of manufacturing jobs.

The Department of Energy (DOE) energy efficiency programs are remarkably effective. In 2001, the National Research Council found that for the seventeen DOE programs it analyzed, each dollar of federal investment in energy efficiency has yielded $20 in economic benefits to the nation in the form of new products, new jobs and energy cost savings to American homes and businesses. DOE itself estimates that its efficiency and renewables programs will result in major savings, including $134 billion in energy bills, 153 GW of new conventional power plants, 1.9 quads of natural gas, and 213 MMT of greenhouse gas emissions in 2025. We cannot reap these savings without federal support, as the private sector would not make the needed investment-energy R&D spending is the lowest of any major industry and has declined dramatically since the 1980's.

Despite the potential of the DOE energy efficiency programs to address our critical energy problems, the proposed FY 2005 energy efficiency budget would slightly decrease funding for the third year in a row. Although there are important increases for weatherization of low-income homes and for fuel cell vehicle research, there are deep cuts in other key energy efficiency programs. Research, Development, and Deployment (RD&D) programs other than the FreedomCar fuel cell vehicles program (and not including the weatherization and state energy grants) would be cut by 17% overall in just one year. Efficiency RD&D should be ramped up, not cut back, in this crucial time for our nation's energy needs.

To this end, we call for a doubling of federal support for energy efficiency over the next five years (2005-2009). Specifically, in 2005 we support a 20% increase in funding for DOE energy efficiency RD&D programs as well as the increase requested in the President's budget for weatherization. While this is a significant investment, the payoffs are large, long-lasting, and necessary to address the energy security, reliability, economic, and environmental problems facing our nation. This request includes high priority programs but also those that steadily provide energy savings and contribute to the economic recovery but may be less than glamorous.

The attachment to this letter highlights some specific DOE energy efficiency and Interior Department renewable energy programs that we feel have a particular need for funding increases.

Thank you for your consideration of these priorities and for your support for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

Sincerely,

Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, American Public Power Association, Austin Energy, Bob Lawrence & Associates, Cascade Associates, City and County of San Francisco, Colorado Energy Group, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, Geothermal Energy Association, National Association for State Community Services Programs, National Association of State Energy Officials, National Environmental Trust, New Uses Council, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, SMOC-Energy Services, Solar Energy Industries Association, The Stella Group, Ltd., Union of Concerned Scientists, United States Combined Heat & Power Association, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation

cc Members of the House and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittees

 

Attachment

DOE Energy Efficiency Programs

Building Technologies: The Buildings activities have produced the most dramatic benefits of any efficiency area. Today there is a particular need for increased support for the equipment standards and analysis program, increased support for effective residential and commercial building codes, R&D for advanced technologies, a focus on building systems integration, and attention to outreach activities. The proposed 25% cut to the equipment standards program, for example, would further delay critical standards that are already behind schedule. The elimination of the insulation and building materials program would end research in that important area. Advanced windows, lighting, appliances, and air conditioning equipment are priority technology needs. Additionally, we must significantly increase efforts in systems integration -- that is, how the various systems in a home or building work together to be most efficient. Added funding in the proposed budget appears not to be enough to cover both the Zero Energy Buildings (which was moved to this budget line) and the new program requirements for Residential Building Integration (Building America) and Commercial Building Integration. These programs are critical to our future ability to build homes and buildings that are at least 50% more efficient but cost no more to construct.

Weatherization, State Energy Activities and Gateway Deployment: We fully support proposed increases for the Weatherization Assistance Program, as well as increased funding for the State Energy Program. The State Energy Programs impacts every sector of the economy and leverages over $3.54 of non-federal funds and directly saves $7.23 for every federal dollar invested in the program. It is the critical state/federal partnership program and is the key bridge between technology development and deployment. Funding provided through DOE appropriations for the Weatherization Assistance Program helps approximately 105,000 low-income households each year and allows the low-income, elderly and disabled to remain in their homes.

We are, however, concerned that DOE has decreased emphasis on the Gateway Deployment programs such as Energy Star, Rebuild America, and Clean Cities. These programs target education and outreach activities aimed at key energy market sectors. Research and development in new technologies will not transform the market by themselves. Gateway Deployment programs represents the "nickel that makes the R&D dollar pay off." The Energy Star Program, for example, produces $75 in energy savings for every dollar spent. These programs, active in all 50 states, create the private sector investment and the state and local engagement that are essential to get key technologies across the "commercialization gulf" that stymies many great ideas.

Industrial Technologies: Industrial energy use accounts for 35% of the energy used in the United States. An especially high priority in this office are the Industries of the Future Crosscutting Programs, such as the Best Practices program and the Industrial Assessment Centers, which have been especially effective at transferring efficiency technologies and best practices applicable to many industries. This office also includes important specific Industries of the Future programs that are increasing the efficiency of some of our nation's most energy-intensive industries. These programs would be devastated by the proposed overall 53% cut. These programs leverage private sector dollars and are helping to create a U.S. industrial sector that is more effective and efficient overall.

Vehicle Technologies: The Transportation program, in addition to its long-term, high-risk commitment to new technologies such as hydrogen, must also increase its efforts in advancing medium-term technologies that will have a quicker and more sure impact on our oil use. High priorities include increasing work on heavy truck engines in the Advanced Combustion R&D program, and increasing support for heavy vehicle work in the Fuels Technology program. Increased support is also important for hybrid vehicle development and materials R&D. DOE should also work cooperatively with USDA and EPA in advancing engine technologies to optimize the use of biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel.

Federal Energy Management Program: The U.S. federal government is the world's largest energy user. The Federal Energy Management Program was established to try to have our government "lead by example" in the area of energy efficiency. This program saves the federal government much more than it costs, by reducing some of the $1 billion in energy costs wasted annually in federal buildings (unlike the other efficiency programs, the savings from FEMP return directly to the federal Treasury). Yet the proposed budget would cut FEMP by 9%. The program leverages energy efficiency and renewable energy activities throughout the federal government by providing technical assistance, financing projects, and otherwise working to implement projects. Although much of the expenditures on federal energy reductions currently come from private sector financing, the FEMP program educates program managers about the availability of these programs, provides assistance in developing contracts, does some direct financing of projects, and otherwise is the critical link in improving our federal facilities.

Distributed Energy Resources: Distributed energy resources are the future of the American electricity system, providing enhanced efficiency and environmental performance, while increasing system reliability. Some distributed generation technologies, such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) applications, can reach energy efficiencies upwards of 80%, more than doubling conventional power generation efficiencies. This program develops a variety of technologies that produce power, including renewable generation, in buildings and industrial facilities, plus the technology required to integrate these systems. While deployment activities fared relatively well in the budget request, it is important to restore the cuts to R&D, which is vital to several technologies that stand at critical junctures. Thermally activated technologies for use of waste heat and systems integration R&D to ensure the technologies work in real buildings are especially important. The focus should include both development of the technologies necessary for integration and actual packaged systems for customer use, and also seek solutions to market barriers to the expanded implementation of DG.

Fuel Cell Technologies: The Fuel Cell Program under EERE is primarily for the development of PEM (low temperature) fuel cells for stationary, transportation and portable applications. The program, as a priority of the Administration, is enjoying a strong level of support; however, we request more emphasis on the stationary and portable technologies, which are closer to yielding an economic payoff, along with development of fueling systems for such fuel cells that use primarily renewable energy sources. This program works on components such as stack and fuel processors, as well as integration in transportation, stationary and portable applications, and, very importantly, validation of fuel cell systems.

Interior Department Renewable Energy Programs

Finally, we would like to highlight two important renewable energy programs in the Interior Department budget. Additional funding is needed in the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) geothermal program and the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) geothermal resource assessment.

The BLM's geothermal program has a large backlog that needs to be addressed. Like other renewable programs, this effort has been given little priority compared with oil, gas and coal and thus has not had the budget to move forward necessary actions related to geothermal projects. The BLM allocated $700,000 in the FY03 budget, and, due to Secretary Norton's interest in renewables, $1.2 million in the FY04 budget. This level of resources has allowed some progress, but there are still serious problems, and the BLM is far from reaching Secretary Norton's goal of eliminating its paperwork backlog. In fact the BLM reported to Congress that the average age of pending geothermal lease applications is nine years old! In FY05, the BLM needs at least $2.5 million to work off the backlog and maintain an effective program. Otherwise new geothermal development in the West will continue to face administrative roadblocks.

In addition, the USGS should be moving forward with an update of its 1978 geothermal resource assessment. Significant changes in technology and science have occurred since that time. This new assessment could have significant consequences for new energy production. In 1978 the USGS identified some 20,000 MW of geothermal potential, but estimated that there was perhaps another 127,000 MW of resources in geothermal systems that it could not identify or discover with the technology available at that time. In FY04 the USGS was provided $550,000 to begin a three-year study limited to the Great Basin (primarily Nevada). To initiate a national resource assessment in FY05, the USGS needs at least $3 million.

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