Congress Feels No Pain

Aug. 1, 2008
By Elisa Wood July 31, 2008 A big question often asked by energy analysts is: How high must energy prices be to motivate customers to change their behavior? We are beginning to think that the more perplexing matter is just how much do we pay before Congress reforms its behavior. Prices are plenty high enough […]

By Elisa Wood

July 31, 2008

A big question often asked by energy analysts is: How high must energy prices be to motivate customers to change their behavior? We are beginning to think that the more perplexing matter is just how much do we pay before Congress reforms its behavior.

Prices are plenty high enough to encourage customers to conserve. Driving is down and pursuit of efficiency is up. Federal lawmakers, however, can’t seem to get beyond partisan maneuvering to extend efficiency incentives.

Wednesday they again came up short on votes for efficiency, solar and wind tax credits. Since existing credits expire at the end of the year, time is running out, and these industries are left with business-killing uncertainty. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/30/AR2008073003020.html

The Jobs, Energy, Families & Disaster Relief Act of 2008, S. 3335, offers a range of measures aimed at encouraging several key efficiency policies. The bill extends tax credits for energy-efficient homes and appliances, and deductions for efficient commercial buildings. It creates incentives for plug-in electric cars and smart electric meters and grids.

Congress has been attempting to pass clean energy measures for months, but they keep getting leveraged against approval of other measures, this time oil drilling. Meanwhile, American households find themselves now paying 13% of pre-tax earnings on energy, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. http://www.ase.org/content/article/detail/4866

Meanwhile, states continue to move forward with new initiatives. Many are looking at utility rate decoupling to do away with financial disincentives that keep utilities from offering efficiency programs. Several states are pursuing some form of energy efficiency portfolio standard. The Northeast continues to refine “first fuel” initiatives that require utilities to secure all cost-effective efficiency as their first source of energy. And California last week adopted what it describes as the first statewide green building code, aimed at reducing energy use in new buildings by 15%.

This piecemeal state-by-state approach to US energy policy often confuses European observers. It is cumbersome. But it moves us forward nonetheless. Perhaps states are more pragmatic because consumer electricity rates are set at the state level, creating a buck-stops-here fear. As a result, governors and state legislators hear consumers say “ouch” more quickly as energy prices rise. Whatever the case, look to the states for innovations in energy efficiency policy, as federal lawmakers remain stuck in argument. http://www.dsireusa.org/NewUpdated/index.cfm?&CurrentPageID=3&EE=1&RE=0

Visit energy writer Elisa Wood at www.realenergywriters.com and pick up her free Energy Efficiency markets Newsletter and podcast.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

Facebook:  Microgrids

In the Race to 100% Renewable Energy, Islands Will Win — With the Right Grid Improvements

March 18, 2024
Looked at individually, islands are often overlooked as unimportant players on the global economic stage. Smaller geographies, smaller communities, fewer resources, and often ...

Download the full report

Five Keys to Effectively Managing the Power Grid with AI

Veritone presents five artificial intelligence-powered solutions that help those in the electric power industry enhance grid resilience, increase the rate of decarbonization, ...