In response to a recent New York Times story on Mayor Bloomberg’s report about the impacts of closing Indian Point’s nuclear power reactors, we applaud this kind of independent study.
But media reporting on such efforts is incomplete without including the positive impact of making buildings more energy efficient.
Real energy efficiency can reduce electric consumption. If 5,000 businesses upgrade 1,000 light fixtures each, the electric reduction would be 500 gigawatt hours annually. Pump and air conditioning upgrades would yield even more savings at these same businesses. If 30 percent of housing units in the New York metropolitan area undergo Home Performance with Energy Star efficiency upgrades and other cost effective measures, another 3,450 gigawatt hours can be saved. These measures are equal to 25 percent of the current output of Indian Point!
According to an exhaustive McKinsey survey, these initiatives would be cost-effective (cash flow positive) for the homes and businesses that choose to finance them. Looking at peak demand impact, energy efficiency will replace even more of Indian Point’s output: assuming that two-thirds of the efficiency achieved would be on a hot summer afternoon when efficiency and peak load management is most valuable. More efficient cooling, electronics equipment, better pumps and building lighting could replace more than 40 percent of Indian Point’s capacity during peak demand times.
Our challenge is to achieve cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades in one-third of our metropolitan area buildings. We can meet that challenge. Whether by introducing private sector efficiency portfolio standards or community choice aggregation options, other states and nations have led the way towards lower consumption at reduced cost to consumers.
New York State has the opportunity to implement these initiatives. We’re making it happen locally right now, through Energize Northern Westchester programs that are achieving significant energy efficiencies, despite the barriers we face. We also have begun to look at the benefits that emerge as consumers manage their consumption intelligently on an hourly basis. This “demand response “ resource is already a reliable half of Indian Point’s output in New York State and could easily be doubled with the right policy structure.
New York State Energy Research Development Authority and the US Department of Energy have provided seed funds for several energy efficiency programs. One in particular, the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium (NWEAC), a compact among 14 municipalities comprising 230,000 people and 55,000 households, has launched a ground-breaking residential energy efficiency program. The early results of the Energize Northern Westchester program are promising, with hundreds of homeowners participating in comprehensive home energy assessments and upgrades since the pilot launched in January.
It may be that the Westchester residents in Indian Point’s backyard are way ahead of the New York media on how to help replace the power generated by Indian Point should it shut for any reason. We can’t ignore energy efficiency as a key piece of our energy solution and have the opportunity to make it happen today with a few simple energy policy reforms and targeted initiatives.
Leo Wiegman, Mayor, Village of Croton-on-Hudson
Lee Roberts, Supervisor, Town of Bedford
Mary Foster, Mayor, City of Peekskill
David Gabrielson, Councilman, Town of Bedford
Tom Bregman, Director, Energize Northern Westchester
Mark Thielking, Director of Energy Resources, Town of Bedford
Mike Gordon, Executive Committee, Joule Assets
Herb Oringel, Chair, Somers Energy and Environment Committee
Mary Beth Kass, Co-President, Bedford 2020 Coalition
Olivia Farr, Senior VP & Treasurer, Bedford 2020 Coalition
Ellen Conrad, Co-President, Bedford 2020 Coalition