Energy forum: wide range of views
This year’s 18th Annual Energy Efficiency Forum, in June at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., co-sponsored by Johnson Controls, Milwaukee, and the U.S. Energy Assn., couldn’t have been more timely. Major congressional hearings on energy convened the same day. And the forum followed immediately upon the G-8 Summit’s discussions on climate change.
Over the nearly two decades that this event has been staged, one of its strengths is the diversity of opinions that are represented here. “I’ve come to the conclusion that energy policy is like the weather: Everyone has an opinion on it… but expects someone else to do something about it,” noted U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman in his keynote address.
But the secretary’s remark notwithstanding, the diverse views expressed by forum speakers are tied together by a common note of activism and optimism about the ability to get serious about energy efficiency. “Market enablers will be key, under the headings of technology, policy and incentives,” said Omar Siddiqui, chief strategist for energy efficiency, EPRI.
James Rogers, chairman, president and CEO, Duke Energy, one of the largest electric power companies in the United States, used a phrase that is increasingly being heard from U.S. energy experts: energy security. “There’s a difference between energy independence and energy security,” he said. “When it comes down to it, only the latter is really possible.”
Even so, argue others, energy independence is something to work for. “The $120 billion increase in the trade deficit is from oil imports,” said speaker Kateri Callahan, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance to Save Energy. “Bills are before Congress this day. Senate bill HR 6 is being put together with significant new measures. Hopefully, the combined House and Senate bills will be a very strong bill.”
A highlight of each year’s Energy Efficiency Forum is the panel discussion. This year’s panel, discussing the day’s theme, “Daring to Commit,” was moderated by Christine Ervin, who served as first president and CEO of the USGBC, as an assistant secretary of energy during the Clinton administration. One observation in particular from panelists seem to symbol the tenor of discussion at the forum.
“New lighting products will dramatically change energy efficiency standards,” said panelist Randall Moorhead, vice president, government affairs, Philips Electronics, North America. “We’re looking for a new performance standard that will require new products that will be dimmable, give the same color as lights in use today and will be halogen type.” In other words, manufacturers and authorities must take the lead, rather than waiting for users to involuntarily adopt new technologies.