Keys to Improving Energy Affordability and Access? Start with Addressing Governance, Technical Assistance, and Financing Options for Smaller Projects By Daniel Bresette
One common theme across this year’s EE Global agenda was the urgency of climate change driving progress toward aggressive energy efficiency goals. But during an afternoon panel, the conversation centered on international and national efforts to ensure energy efficiency is more inclusive, more accessible, and more affordable than ever before and make sure nobody is left out of the picture.
Local, state, and national governments are rising to the challenge, often with international support, but even successful programs are too limited and have failed to reach a scale commensurate with the challenge. This needs to change quickly, and a panel of experts and innovators from the utility, non-profit, and government sectors had some suggestions to make a lot of progress in short order.
There is a natural nexus between affordability of energy efficiency and the availability of financing options to help homeowners and businesses overcome the upfront cost hurdle of many improvements. But how to do more?
Holmes Hummel, founder of Clean Energy Works, suggested an expanded commitment on the part of the federal government to providing technical assistance to help programs get off the ground faster and follow the best-practices of those already in place.
In Morocco, according to General Director of the Agency for Energy Efficiency Said Mouline, many programs are focused on larger projects, even though the need for financing is most acute for smaller businesses, including in the agriculture sector.
Santiago Creuheras Diaz, who works with members of the national legislature in Mexico, emphasized the role of governance in the financial sector and the need to ensure agencies have the proper direction and authority to make a difference.
Tracy Warren with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association provided a number of successful examples of programs managed by member companies, including one that allowed customers to lease water heaters that also provide the utility new tools for demand response to respond to the needs of the electrical grid.
The bottom line: the need for financing is great – but not as great as the opportunity.