Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marketing Energy Efficiency -- No Clear Answers

Energy efficiency is critical to our energy future. How to successfully develop policies and marketing strategies that promote efficiency to Americans is still a point of debate on day two of the National Electricity Forum in Washington D.C.

During multiple panels, speakers have pointed to a study by McKinsey consulting that suggests there is the potential to save more than a trillion dollars in savings from energy efficiency programs by 2020. There also seems to be broad agreement at the forum that energy efficiency should reduce energy consumption across the country by 10 to 20 percent during the same timeframe. Unfortunately, there seems to be little agreement about how we get there. Here are some quotes from this morning’s energy efficiency panel.

“We need more collaboration between the states and federal government to make energy efficiency work. States have been much more aggressive with energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards.” Terry Boston, CEO PJM

“It’s really hard to get folks to do anything. We have price and information strategies, but they are not going to make a dent unless they are tied to complimentary policies.” John Savage, Commissioner Oregon Public Utility Commission

“What kind of energy efficiency can we expect without policies in place – the answer is very little. We have to figure out policies that look 10 years down the road so that our own short-term time horizons as individual actors don’t hinder energy efficiency.” Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, U.S. Department of Energy

In addition to the lack of a federal energy efficiency policy, several panel members discussed the need to clarify the end goal of energy efficiency suggesting that the approach is different for cost savings versus carbon reduction.

“A megawatt saved at four in the morning is very good for carbon policy, but it doesn’t necessarily save customers money,” said Joseph Kelliher, EVP for FPL Group, Inc.

For communicators, this discussion makes it clear that there is a more pressing need than ever to help shape policy messaging as the energy efficiency debate evolves. In addition, the ambitious education goals for energy efficiency are going to require a renewed effort by communicators to reach end users.

- Potomac Communications Group

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