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Over the past 40 years, energy efficiency has been associated with progressive politics.  That is unfortunate, because the economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency are tangible - it isn't a cultural or philosophical belief that making better use of natural resources raises people's standard of living.

That is why I was so encouraged when the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a report recognizing the efforts of Mississippi's leadership in advancing energy efficiency in the Southeast.

I was further encouraged to find that Gov. Phil Bryant (R) had made this a focus of his administration.

I think that it is worth a look at the language Gov. Bryant is using, and why it sells in a deep red state.

Both the ACEEE report and the Governor's press release focus almost exclusively on the economic benefits.  This quote from the ACEEE report is representative:

The macroeconomic assessment finds that, by 2025, these savings will result in $4.3 billion in net economic output, including $1.1 billion in wages, $825 million in income to small business owners, 32,800 person-years of employment, and increased state and local tax revenue by $80 million.
These are powerful incentives.  The phrase "Energy Efficiency as a Resource" appears multiple times, and neatly encapsulates the overall message that Gov. Bryant and the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) are sending.

There are quite a few nuggets in the reports that are interesting:

  • MS households have the highest electricity expenditures as a percentage of median income in the nation, despite having relatively low rates. (Sources:  ACEEE, EIA 2013 Census 2012, Moody's 2013).
  • MS households rank third in total energy expenditures (electricity plus fossil fuels) as a percentage of household income.  That is very surprising - one wouldn't expect a relatively warm weather state to be in the top 5.
  • MS only gets 25% of electricity from coal, with natural gas at 54%, nuclear at 18% and renewables making up the balance.  The new EE programs are projected to meet 13% of state wide electricity needs by 2025, which should allow for some coal plant retirement.
  • The cost of that energy efficiency resource is estimated at $0.03/kWh, which is lower than any other source.

What is conspicuously absent is any mention to the environment.  The Governor's press release that I linked to in the intro literally does not use the word "environment".  Neither does his blurb in the National Governor's Association Energy Efficiency Primer.

Even if I would like to see more emphasis on the environmental benefits of reduced energy usage, this messaging has led to MS vastly improving their performance, so I will count that as good news.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

    by AdirondackForeverWild on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 10:19:19 AM PDT

  •  I Imagine the High Energy Use is Air Conditioning (7+ / 0-)

    which is an expensive service.

    From way back in the 60's, Glen Campbell's song "Witchita Lineman" has the line "searching in the sun for another overload" for good reason.

    MS houses must need AC fairly heavily at least 7 months of the year at times, I'd think, especially in the south.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 10:44:54 AM PDT

    •  I was more surprised at the Natural Gas Usage (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Maine spends the highest % of income on heating fuel, which isn't a surprise.  I would have thought that I warm weather state like MS would be pretty low on the list for heating.

      Both statistics point to an untapped efficiency market, so I hope they do well.

      No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

      by AdirondackForeverWild on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 10:48:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Current temperature here in North (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mississippi at 1 pm is 86 degrees with 66 % humidity and a 90 degree heat index. It is supposed to go up later in the week.

    •  I admittedly didn't read all of the linked (3+ / 0-)

      material but the focus of the improvements seemed to be more in the area of modernizing commercial and government building codes and not so much on residential customers. It is generally cheaper to design energy efficiency into new construction than to retrofit existing structures. Also, I may be wrong but it is also often more cost effective for businesses to implemement energy efficiency measures than residential customers. It is easier to, for example, change to more efficient lighting at a single company that uses a lot of power on lighting than to make a comparatively smaller change in lighting at a bunch of residential homes to achieve the same net reduction in energy usage.

      When you start out near the bottom of the rankings, it only takes modest changes to become "most improved" relative to where you were.

  •  I am not surprised by the omission of certain word (2+ / 0-)

    certain words.
    In these red states, any renewable energy or energy efficiency measure must be discussed on economic terms- NOT environmental terms. I, for example, do not use the term "sustainability" in my work in a red state energy office. Still, progress is progress and any dent our efforts make in the reduction of carbon emission is a gain, no matter how we label it. Frustrating to me is how much more we could accomplish if folks better understood the environmental disaster we are courting and advocated for solutions instead of appeasing Koch and other big money donors. Energy is a big part of the Kansas economy. It's hard to convince a person to change when his livelihood depends on ignorance.

    “Nature uses as little as possible of anything." -- Johannes Kepler

    by Syoho on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 01:22:20 PM PDT

  •  Kansas should be well-positioned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for renewables, particularly wind.  Nice sig line, btw.

    No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

    by AdirondackForeverWild on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 01:24:14 PM PDT

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