Friday, January 12, 2007

Give Conservation Another Chance

By John H. Herbert, Baltimore Sun, Jan. 1, 2007:

Since 1997, utility demand-side investments such as efficient lighting programs, heat recovery systems and advanced electric motor drives have yielded returns for consumers that far exceed the cost. Since 1997, every 3 cents worth of conservation investment by utilities has reduced demand by 1 kilowatt-hour. Electricity costs about 9 cents per kilowatt-hour. Thus, for every 3 cents worth of conservation investments, consumers avoid paying 9 cents and thus obtain a 6-cent gain. ...

Why is there no federal support? Because Washington understands the impact of programs that involve tax credits, subsidies and government expenditures that increase energy supplies rather than reducing demand. Support for these programs provides paybacks for specific industries. ...

In the 1970s, prices were high and energy security was a pressing issue as Middle East oil supplies were at times curtailed. The national government responded by promoting energy conservation on several fronts such as tax credits for domestic conservation investments, energy-use labeling of appliances and automobiles, and frank talk about the value of saving energy for economic and security reasons. ...

By 1985, U.S. imports from OPEC fell to 1.8 million barrels per day from a peak level of 6.2 million in 1977, a decline of 70 percent. ...

According to the Department of Energy's Annual Energy Review, from 1978 to 1982, energy consumption per household declined by 26 percent, and in the major consuming region in the nation, the Midwest, it declined by 32 percent.

From 1973 to 1982, industrial consumption of natural gas declined by 32 percent. The industrial sector is the major user of this most environmentally benign hydrocarbon. During the same period, fuel consumption per vehicle declined by 19 percent. ...

[W]ill we stay entrenched in the known comforts of energy dependency and legislation written by lobbyists supportive of particular groups? The smart money may be on the latter, but there will be more money and security for everybody if we give conservation another whirl.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism