PowerSource Voice: Energy efficiency can create jobs and boost the economy

Energy production is driving a manufacturing comeback. For the first time in decades, energy has become an advantage for manufacturers in the United States.

The smart and efficient use of our energy supplies can add to this advantage by allowing manufacturers to benefit from recent technology breakthroughs. Energy-efficiency measures spur the development of new technologies to lower energy costs, allowing manufacturers to create jobs and make new investments.

Manufacturers need to stay ahead of the curve in energy efficiency to maintain an edge in energy policy with our international competitors. Doing so will require the continued ingenuity of the most productive workforce in the world as well as thoughtful public policy that will support investment and advancement of energy-efficient technologies.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness (ESIC) Act is designed to accomplish these important goals. Introduced by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, this bipartisan legislation would create 190,000 new jobs and generate more than $16 billion in annual savings, according to a recent study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

This legislation  offers incentives for the use of a wide array of technologies that are commercially available and can be rapidly and widely deployed. It promotes the use of energy-efficient technologies in commercial, residential and government buildings, measures that typically pay for themselves through energy savings. It places no new mandates on U.S. businesses or consumers, and all new spending authorizations are fully offset. Manufacturers strongly support the ESIC Act.

Manufacturers like PPG Industries are finding new and innovative ways to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient.

The next big thing in lighting, for example, is organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology. PPG recently opened a world-class OLED materials production facility at its Barberton, Ohio, plant. OLED technology is being used in smartphones, computer screens, televisions and solid-state lighting applications, and the applications will continue to grow. This new technology will continue to make these products more energy efficient.

The Senate may take up the ESIC Act in the coming weeks. It is the smart, prudent solution we need to maintain our energy advantage. Americans want energy efficiency, and our energy policy needs it. The measure is an opportunity to support growth, competitiveness and continued American energy innovation, and we hope that policy makers will work together to pass this job-creating legislation.

Aric Newhouse is senior vice president of policy and government relations for the National Association of Manufacturers. Bryan Iams is vice president of corporate and government affairs for Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries.

To contribute to PowerSource Voice, a regular feature offering insight and opinion on energy subjects, contact Associate Business Editor Teresa F. Lindeman at tlindeman@post-gazette.com

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