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Sen. Maria Cantwell: We’ve Entered The Age Of Energy Efficiency

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Bellamy Pailthorp
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KPLU
Stan Price, executive director of the non-profit Northwest Energy Efficiency Council, released the new report on Tuesday August 11th, 2015 in Seattle.

Energy efficiency is not just a money saver. The freed up capital also drives economic growth and productivity. That’s the message in a new study released in Seattle Tuesday by the non-profit Northwest Energy Efficiency Council. 

The study was commissioned to show the benefits of conserving. It concluded that recent energy efficiency investments by utilities and consumers pumped an extra $216 million dollars a year into Washington state’s economy. That’s money that is spent on productivity instead of wasted.

“If you think about it, the more energy efficient a hospital is, the greater investment that they can make in health care,” said US Senator Maria Cantwell, delivering a commemorative speech at the council’s celebration of its 20th anniversary.

Cantwell is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She says energy efficiency is finally catching on among lawmakers. As recently as five years ago, only a handful of measures on the topic came before Congress.

“This year, as we went to mark up the energy efficiency modernization act, I think there was something like 50 or 60 energy efficiency bills, that were proposed. And now everybody has energy efficiency religion. They really believe it,” she said.  

Cantwell attributes the change in large part to heated debates of a bipartisan package of energy efficiency measures, known as the Shaheen-Portman Act. She says despite its ultimate failure, it brought the topic more into the mainstream.

"We had the Age of Aquarius -- well, this is the Age of Efficiency," she told the luncheon guests.

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US Sen Maria Cantwell told the group, "we had the Age of Aquarius...This is the Age of Efficiency."

Cantwell says the Pacific Northwest can and should continue to demonstrate new technologies that help, for example, smart devices and software to make commercial buildings more efficient.  

The NEEC study says in Seattle alone, getting low-performing buildings just to ‘average’ energy use could save owners an additional $55-million dollars a year.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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