According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, just about 14% of the primary energy used in the USA is converted to usable work like heat, cooling or motion. That means 6 of every 7 tons of coal or barrels of oil we use is wasted.
Making much more efficient use of that energy would return massive rewards for our Nation’s economy, reduce the health and environmental damage done by burning fossil fuels, reduce the cost of energy to current generations and help avoid the dangers of climate change.
For Nebraska, which imports all the coal we burn and nearly all of the oil and natural gas we consume, the economic impacts are even greater.
Industry and government analysts agree that energy efficiency is the least expensive way to meet demands for energy, and managing demand if far cheaper than building new power plants and drilling new wells to meet un-managed growth in demand.
Unfortunately, Nebraska electric and natural gas utilities have been slow to invest in cost-effective energy efficiency programs. In other states, public utility commissions require that natural gas utilities provide low-cost energy audits and assistance to homeowners looking to invest in energy efficiency. Not so in Nebraska.
Nebraska also has a proud system of 100% public power, but without oversight by a state agency, those utilities too have been slow to embrace energy efficiency investments at the scope needed to meet the challenge.
Nebraska’s utilities need to change, and Nebraska’s policies need to change, if Nebraskans are going to build a stronger economy by keeping more of our energy dollars here at home.