A closer look at Obama’s energy plan
Economy may slow it, but ‘green’ jobs may grow it.
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One of the fastest ways to lower energy costs is efficiency. Obama’s energy plan touts tougher efficiency standards and decries the Bush administration for missing 34 deadlines for improving energy-efficiency requirements for appliances and electrical equipment. During its tenure, the Bush White House enacted just two new energy-efficiency standards, one for electrical transformers and one for home furnaces, both of which were considered too weak and are now being challenged in court by states and environmental groups. If all 25 Obama-proposed energy-efficiency standards were adopted, they could save the yearly equivalent of all the power produced by 57 large power plants, says Andrew Delaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, an environmental watchdog coalition.Skip to next paragraph
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An early test of the new administration – and its willingness to risk industry displeasure – will come in June. That’s when a new rule on commercial lighting – to improve the efficiency of those ubiquitous four-foot-long fluorescent tubes used in office buildings nationwide – comes up for final approval.
It’s a big deal. If the Department of Energy enacts a tough rule, it could have one of the most significant energy-efficiency impacts in US history, saving the equivalent of $66 billion in power costs over the next 30 years. That’s enough to power every home in the US for one year, says Mr. Delaski.
A strong rule could mean that the US could essentially replace 15 large power plants with the energy savings and slash carbon dioxide emissions by 950 million tons. The Bush administration could still propose a weaker rule in its waning days.
“The rubber is going to hit the road pretty quickly for this administration,” Delaski says. “Are they going to really push for tough standards or just go along with weaker standards favored by the lighting industry?”
One measure of Obama’s resolve to reform the US energy equation could come as soon as Nov. 12: That’s when he may consider a proposal by the Center for American Progress to create a National Energy Council within the White House. This is according to Kevin Book, senior vice president for energy policy at Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Capital Markets, writing to investors in a recent newsletter.
Others agree Obama is likely to push hard for a sweeping rather than piecemeal energy agenda early in his administration.
“This energy plan is not just about environment, climate change, energy prices, or supplies individually,” Hendricks says. “It’s an overarching plan that embodies Obama’s approach to national service, energy security, and economic stability. He’s going to hit it head-on.”