How to Double America’s Energy Productivity

Energy2030cover2.12The Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy on Feb. 7 published a report, “Doubling U.S. Energy Productivity by 2030.” It puts relatively simple financial measures at the top of its to-do list. For instance, it recommends a PACE-like program, at the state and local level, for financing home energy projects with repayment included in utility bills or property tax bills.

The Alliance Commission, chaired by Senator Mark Warner and National Grid President Tom King, is a blue-ribbon group of two dozen private sector executives, including finance, utility and technology firms. It includes Dan Arvizu, director or NREL; Mike Eckhart, mangaging director and global head of environmental finance at Citigroup; retired General Wesley Clark; former New York Governor George Pataki; and Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund.

The report, among other steps, advocates enabling institutional investors to buy energy efficiency financial obligations on a large scale, using securities based on uniform contract structures (in place, for instance, of investing in fossil-fuel limited partnerships and investment trusts). And it suggests that mortgage lenders should consider household energy and transportation cost savings, which reduce the cost of owning a home, when underwriting. The fact that a homeowner can afford a larger monthly mortgage payment may make for reduced risk and a more attractive loan.

Here’s the report’s own outline of steps to be taken to double America’s energy efficiency:

Make financing more easilyavailable for energy efficiency projects:

• Make more capital available by enabling institutional investors to buy energy efficiency financial obligations on a large scale using securities based on uniform contract structures and better performance data.

• Establish state and local programs for financing of efficiency measures, which may use repayment on utility bills or on property tax bills (the capital could be provided by institutional investors).

• Consider household energy and transportation costs when underwriting mortgages to allow for larger or more attractive loans for homes with lower monthly costs.

» Advance energy productivity through federal tax reform:

• reform federal energy efficiency tax incentives so that they focus on high efficiency technologies and measures and on promoting innovation and market transformation.

• Adjust commercial and industrial depreciation schedules to encourage investments that can boost energy productivity.

Support energy productivity innovation and market adoption:

• Increase federal investment in basic and applied research, development, demonstration, deployment, and technical assistance.

Governments lead by example:

• Apply innovative best practices to government buildings and vehicle fleets.

• Make all cost-effective efficiency improvements to federal buildings using private financing and public funds.

To download the full report, go to:

http://ase.org/sites/default/files/full_commission_report.pdf

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