The results of an energy study requested by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry were recently leaked, and they show that the energy efficient policies that are currently in place are saving Americans money. The amount that these policies are helping Americans save isn’t pocket change either—it adds up to more than $500 billion.
Perry requested the study in order to provide evidence that solar and wind power were negatively affecting the reliability of the U.S. electric grid, but the study failed to provide the proof he wanted. Instead, the study showed the electric grid is more reliable now than it ever has been before. In fact, the study revealed that it does not make economic sense to continue to operate most of the coal and nuclear plants in the U.S. Why? The study shows that prices for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are drastically dropping, and will continue to do so in the future, which means investing in coal or nuclear energy is not logical.
So Why not Energy Efficiency?
Many people would think that these results would be enough to get the government to embrace energy efficiency policies. But surprisingly, the government is doing the exact opposite.
Since President Donald Trump took office in January of this year, he has been rolling back policies. In June, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. By withdrawing from this historic agreement, President Trump signaled to the rest of the world that the U.S. did not share the same commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.
Standing in the Way of Energy Efficiency
Members of President Trump’s administration share his indifference towards energy efficiency. The Department of Energy (DOE) is currently under fire for delaying the implementation of five energy efficiency standards that were established while President Obama was still in office. If implemented, the new standards would save consumers over $545 billion in utility costs and reduce carbon emissions by over 2.26 billion tons. So, what’s the hold up?
The DOE was supposed to publish these standards after they went through a standard 45-day review process. However, it’s been over six months and the standards have yet to be published. As a result, a number of states including California and New York are filing a lawsuit against the DOE to force them to complete the review and make the standards official.
President Trump’s federal budget proposal, which was released in June, provides further proof that the current administration is not interested in energy efficiency policies. In the proposal, President Trump eliminated the budget for the Energy Star program, which helps consumers and businesses save money by becoming more energy efficient. The proposed budget also slashed funding for the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) program at the DOE, which was responsible for creating millions of jobs and reducing consumers’ energy bills across the country.
There is no doubt that energy efficiency policies could save Americans billions of dollars, but there it seems President Trump and his administration will not allow consumers to reap these rewards. When we ignore energy efficiency, it’s not just the environment that suffers. Americans feel these policies right in their pocketbooks.