Energy Efficiency and Conservation: a Framework for Illinois. Harvey M. Sachs, Ph.D. (1), American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Washington, DC 20036

Conservation is a personal or community value, a virtue in Vice-president Cheney's terms. Conservation deals with what energy services are chosen and valued. In contrast, efficiency is a technical measure of how the services are provided, placing no ethical weight on which services are provided. Conservation is deciding to turn the lights off; efficiency is using technology to provide lighting with half as much energy. Still, these sibling concepts are Siamese twins: the most energy efficient office building in the world won't conserve Illinois' energy if every worker has to drive an hour alone to get to work!

Any measures that reduce the cost of needed energy services provides economic benefits. In 1995 Illinois residents, businesses, and organizations spent $23 billion for energy purchases, 40% more than the State collected in taxes. Over time, with cost-effective technologies, the energy bill can be reduced by more than 30% without sacrifice. Reducing tax-paid services that much without sacrificing programs that the people of Illinois deem essential would be impossible. Thus, energy efficiency has enormous potential for savings that unleash economic activity in productive sectors.

For various reasons, depending on their progress through the technology life cycle, the incremental capacity costs for all supply technologies available are more than the cost of efficiency. Therefore, to maximize economic benefits efficiency will be a large part of any balanced portfolio of options for Illinois. As one example, ACEEE finds that adopting efficiency as a supply strategy will lead to a net increase of 59,000 Illinois jobs by 2015, between new work to implement efficiency and new jobs in other sectors created by the customer savings from efficiency.

Implementing an efficiency strategy requires complementary policies involving all sectors. Government purchases of "Best Practice" products, from cars to buildings, will lower market barriers. Codes and standards are keys for early action, because structures that use too much energy are much harder to retrofit than the cost of doing it right the first time. A system benefit charge applied to electricity sales, as has been implemented in many states, can make funds available to assist all sectors, and can fund research to make Illinois an efficiency R&D leader, exporting products and services to other states.

1. Largely based on data in M. Goldberg, M. Kushler, S. Nadel, S. Laitner, N. Elliott, and M. Thomas, 1998. Energy Efficiency and Economic Development in Illinois. Publication E982, ACEEE, Washington, DC.

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