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VA Industries Could Cut Carbon, Save Billions with Efficiency

Virginia industries could save billions and help the state meet carbon goals through energy efficiency, according to new research. (Brown, Smith and Kim - Georgia Tech)
Virginia industries could save billions and help the state meet carbon goals through energy efficiency, according to new research. (Brown, Smith and Kim - Georgia Tech)
September 28, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia manufacturers and industries would gain billions in benefits from better energy efficiency, while also cutting their carbon output, according to two new studies.

Jennifer Kefer, executive director of the Alliance for Industrial Efficiency, said its research found industrial energy efficiency could cut carbon emissions by 175 million tons nationwide in 2030.

"Process efficiency improvements, boiler upgrades, replacing chillers, insulation, even things as simple as lighting," Kefer said. "Our report demonstrates very clearly that one can cut carbon while saving money."

According to research from the Georgia Institute of Technology, industries in Virginia could save nearly $10 billion over a decade and a half.

Ivy Main, renewable-energy chair for the Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, said an earlier study found the state's dominant utilities lagging on work to improve efficiency.

"Dominion Resources came out dead last on energy efficiency," she said. "So, that just tells you we've got a ton of low-hanging fruit that we could be picking at this point."

Dominion said it is investing in efficiency and renewables, including large solar projects. Environmental critics have said the company still is moving too slowly.

Marilyn Brown, a Brook Byers professor of sustainable systems at Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy, said they found that in the coming decades, U.S. industries and utilities could save hundreds of billions of dollars a year, avoiding the cost of energy they don't have to generate or use.

"Money that can be spent on plant modernization or product improvements," she said, "expanding the customer base leading to business growth, local jobs, all kinds of benefits."

Some energy-producing states and fossil-fuel industries are suing in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to try to stop the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, arguing that more regulations will slow economic growth. But Kefer said the new research shows Virginia could meet its carbon-reduction goals and boost jobs.

The alliance's report is online at alliance4industrialefficiency.org. The Georgia Tech report is at cepl.gatech.edu and results for Virginia are here.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - VA