Murkowski: Efficiency is Key to Good Energy Policy

October 22, 2019

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine international efforts to increase energy efficiency and opportunities to advance energy efficiency in the United States.

In her opening statement, Murkowski pointed to efficiency as the first place we should look as we work to make energy more affordable.

“By reducing energy use, we reduce energy costs, which matters to every family and business,” Murkowski said. “We can improve reliability through technologies that reduce load when demand is high, lessening the likelihood of brownouts or blackouts. Efficiency can also play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumption.”

Murkowski discussed the potential for even small changes to use energy more efficiently to make a huge difference.

“In Yakutat, Alaska, a community at the northern tip of Southeast Alaska with a population of around 500, the elementary school made the change to more energy efficient lighting and was able to save enough nearly $70,000 a year – more than enough to cover, for example, a teacher’s salary,” Murkowski said. “Those more efficient lights, by the way, paid for themselves in less than three years.”

In his testimony, Dr. Brian Motherway, Head of Energy Efficiency at the International Energy Agency, spoke to last year’s increase in global energy demand, the largest since 2010, driven largely by increased economic activity.

“Energy efficiency can play a key role in making sure this kind of growth is sustainable, not only from an environmental point of view, but also in terms of ensuring the resilience of electricity grids, reducing import dependency, and lowering energy costs for all,” Motherway said.

Daniel Bresette, the Executive Director of the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), pointed to efforts underway to stimulate innovation, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote new economic growth. He testified that, “Municipal utilities and electric cooperatives across the country are today in various stages of developing and implementing on-bill financing with support and technical assistance from EESI. For example, in Juneau, Alaska, a non-profit community partnership—Alaska Heat Smart—is collaborating with the local city and borough governments, Juneau Commission on Sustainability, Juneau Economic Development Council, Alaska Electric Light and Power, and other partners to deploy innovative financing to accelerate high-efficiency heat pump adoption. Together with cold-climate heat pumps and basic weatherization measures, this undertaking has the potential to lower utility bills for Alaskan families and help Juneau meet its climate and clean energy goals.”

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here, here, here, and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.