Energy efficiency advocates discuss carbon emission solutions

Energy efficiency advocates hope that new carbon emission regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency will help strengthen energy efficiency initiatives already established in Pennsylvania.

Final implementation of the new EPA regulations will come at an opportune time for the state, according to Maureen Mulligan, the policy director for the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance. The proposed rules, which were released on June 2, are part of an effort to reduce greenhouse gases nationwide. The EPA expects to finalize the rules by June 2015.

The reduction percentage goals, which vary from state to state, are set for 2030. Pennsylvania is expected to cut its carbon emissions by about 32 percent.

Ms. Mulligan and Carla Maxwell, the director of Educational Outreach of Affordable Comfort, Inc., met with the editorial board of the Post-Gazette Wednesday to discuss their hopes and plans for the future of energy efficiency in Pittsburgh.

Ms. Mulligan believes the new EPA regulations could help expand on an energy reduction goal for Pennsylvania utility companies passed in 2008, and also make the act more aggressive in terms of energy reductions. Act 129 required major energy companies to reach an energy reduction goal of 3 percent by 2013.

During the meeting, Ms. Maxwell said energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon pollution. In fact, the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance said 22 percent of Pennsylvania‘‍s target pollution reduction can come from energy efficiency.

“The industry is growing in leaps and bounds in technology and what it can deliver, and we believe the EPA can open that up even more,” Ms. Mulligan said.

The programs proposed under Act 129 saved ratepayers over $1 billion from 2009 to 2013 and every $1 invested in such programs saved consumers $2.60, according to Ms. Maxwell. In addition, energy efficiency options cost 3-cents per kilowatt hour as opposed to others which cost six.

In terms of legislative action in regards to energy efficiency, Ms. Mulligan suggested looking into rate incentives for utility companies, to help them generate newer, more energy efficient business models and updating Pennsylvania‘‍s state building codes.

“We feel our industry offers high-tech, low-cost possible solutions. Energy efficiency can help us all be healthier and safer. It’‍s the best-kept secret going. We can all have a huge impact on meeting these emission controls,” Ms. Maxwell said.

By Madasyn Czebiniak: or 412-263-1269. Twitter: @PG_Czebiniak

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