The Power of Efficiency

Northwesterners can save enough electricity to power the region’s economic growth over the next decade, according to a new study from the NW Energy Coalition.

The study, The Power of Efficiency: Pacific Northwest Conservation Potential through 2020, also shows increased efficiency can cut new regional natural gas demand in half.

By coupling energy efficiency with clean renewable energy resources, the Pacific Northwest can begin to electrify vehicles and to move away from fossil-fueled power generation.

“The surest way to meet our energy needs and create good jobs is to build a solid foundation of energy efficiency across the Northwest,” said NW Energy Coalition executive director Sara Patton. “Investing in efficiency and new renewable energy resources will secure our clean and affordable energy future.’’

Between now and 2020, regional electric demand is expected to grow by five times the power now consumed by Seattle City Light customers. New natural gas demand is expected to grow by the equivalent of 1.5 million typical residential customers. The Power of Efficiency concludes that most of that demand can be met by using the power we already have more efficiently.

Energy efficiency isn’t just abundant; it is far less expensive than new power plants or gas pipelines. Saving electricity with efficiency measures—things like better lighting, more efficient equipment and integrated building design–will cost less than half as much as generating the same amount with a new fossil-fuel burning electricity plant, according to the report.

“Increased investment in energy efficiency will lower energy bills for consumers and grow the number of clean energy jobs for Northwest workers,” said national clean energy leader U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash. “This report shows the huge opportunity to save money, speed the transition to a green economy and protect the planet.”

History supports The Power of Efficiency’s conclusion. According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the Northwest has covered half of new electric demand since 1978 with conservation, saving enough electricity to serve all of Idaho’s and Montana’s needs and saving Northwest energy consumers $1.6 billion per year.

The Power of Efficiency, prepared by leading energy research and consulting firm Ecotope Inc, is part of the Coalition’s Efficiency Works! campaign to accelerate energy efficiency through public policy and business-level investments across the Northwest.

View a four page summary.

View the report online.