Businesses Speak out Against Proposed Energy Efficiency Budget Cuts

Apr 28, 2017


By Jennifer Kefer, Vice President of David Gardiner and Associates and Executive Director of the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency. This article originally appeared in Breaking Energy.

The President’s budget template, which slashes the Environmental Protection Agency budget by 32% and eliminates voluntary programs, including the agency’s Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Partnership and the ENERGY STAR program, has drawn wide criticism from businesses across the country.

Businesses are speaking out on behalf of the CHP Partnership. More than 100 companies have already signed on to a stakeholder letter urging Congress to continue to fund the partnership. The program currently benefits 389 partners – including many businesses, developers, and state and local governments – and helps its partners navigate complex technical and financial issues associated with CHP.

The CHP Partnership is a perfect example of how the federal government, in partnership with the private sector, can catalyze investments in energy efficiency. The program is extremely cost-effective and has a proven track record of success, working to promote more efficient power generation.The CHP Partnership increases U.S. competitiveness, enhances the resiliency of our energy infrastructure, and lowers emissions through promoting and facilitating the deployment of CHP.

Conventional power generation is incredibly inefficient. By producing both heat and electricity from a single fuel source, CHP dramatically increases the efficiency of energy production. These energy savings, in turn, reduce energy costs for project hosts, making them more competitive. Because CHP systems can operate independently of the grid, these systems can also keep the lights and power on during extreme weather events. And greater efficiency translates to lower emissions; EPA reports that a typical CHP system can cut greenhouse gas emissions in half compared to the separate generation of heat and power.

The CHP Partnership works to remove policy barriers and to facilitate the development of new projects in the United States and its territories by promoting the economic, environmental, and reliability benefits of CHP. Partners include CHP project developers, engineers, equipment manufacturers, facility owners, clean air officials, utilities, financiers, and other nongovernmental organizations. These partners have access to expert advice, CHP news, marketing resources, and publicity and recognition opportunities. For example, EPA inspires America’s hospitals, factories and universities to install CHP by shining a spotlight on successful projects through its annual “CHP Energy Star Awards.”

Partners aren’t the only beneficiaries of the CHP Partnership’s work. The partnership provides tools, policy information, and other resources to the broader clean energy community. For example, the CHP Partnership maintains the CHP Policies and Incentives Database, which allows policymakers and policy advocates to find useful information on significant state and federal policies and financial incentives affecting CHP. It also helps CHP developers and other interested parties find information about financial incentives and policies that influence project development.

Their work has paid off. In the twelve years following the launch of the Partnership, nearly 22 gigawatts of clean and efficient CHP projects have been deployed – the equivalent of roughly 45 conventional power plants. One-third of those projects can be credited to EPA’s leadership through the Partnership. The potential for additional CHP deployment is far greater.

The Department of Energy says America has nearly 300 additional power plants in technical on-site CHP potential. Recent analysis by the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency finds that deploying even a fraction of these projects could save U.S. businesses $141 billion in avoided energy costs from 2016-2030. Technical assistance, peer learning, and educational resources through the partnership can help jump-start these investments.

Cutting the CHP Partnership would undermine efforts to make U.S. manufacturers more efficient and competitive, increase the reliability of the electric grid, and lower emissions. It’s not too late to make your voice be heard. The Alliance for Industrial Efficiency is organizing a sign on letter urging the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to maintain funding for the CHP Partnership and help save consumers money, strengthen our energy security, and reduce harmful emissions until May 4th.

The CHP Partnership is not the only voluntary program at risk under the President’s budget template. More than 1,000 U.S. companies and organizations sent a letter to Congress and the administration in support of ENERGY STAR this week. The letter states that, cumulatively, since 1992, ENERGY STAR has helped families and businesses save $430 billion on utility bills, while avoiding 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

If you are an energy efficiency business or organization, click here to sign the coalition letter urging Congress to continue funding EPA’s CHP Partnership.