Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Energy Coordinating Agency: Energy Efficiency Promoted As Cheapest, Cleanest, Safest Form Of Energy

At a hearing of the House Democratic Policy Committee Monday, Liz Robinson, Executive Director of the nonprofit Energy Coordinating Agency in Philadelphia, promoted energy efficiency as the cheapest, cleanest and safest form of energy that eliminate building energy waste and creates more jobs.
Here is the text of her remarks before the Committee--
Good morning. I am Liz Robinson, Executive Director of the Energy Coordinating Agency (ECA). Thank you for this opportunity to testify before the House Committee on such an important subject.
ECA is a nonprofit corporation which provides energy efficiency, education and related services to the residential and commercial sectors. ECA also operates a nationally accredited Building Science Training Center, which trains to the highest national standards in both energy efficiency and environmental remediation.
As a jobs creation engine, the Clean Energy industry is one of the most important growth industries for Pennsylvania and the nation in the foreseeable future.
The energy industry as a whole is rapidly changing. The sources of energy in Pennsylvania have changed dramatically in the last 1D years and will continue to do so due to a host of factors.
The pace of technological innovation is driving much of this change. The DOE's first annual "United States Energy and Employment Report" finds that almost 2 million Americans are now employed in energy efficiency.
As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last month, "For every 1D Americans working to create and distribute energy in 2015, there were roughly seven others working to conserve it."
DOE also finds the number of jobs in Energy Efficiency poised to grow next year by 14 percent!
Energy Efficiency is one of Pennsylvania's most abundant sources of energy, it is evenly distributed all over the state (this is a polite way of saying that Pennsylvania has a lot of energy waste lurking in our old buildings) and energy efficiency is in fact the energy resource that creates the most jobs: it's the most labor intensive form of energy.
It's also the cheapest, cleanest and safest form of energy. It is the only form of energy which can actually help lower rates. For all these reasons, Pennsylvania should be pursuing energy efficiency much more vigorously than we are at present.
Solar is the second most labor intensive form of energy and it is also distributed everywhere in Pennsylvania.
One of the really important things to understand about jobs in the clean energy industry, particularly in energy efficiency, is that they are inherently local. You're not going to find guys from Texas and Oklahoma coming up here to blow insulation into your attic.
The energy efficiency industry has changed very dramatically in the last ten years. Now for the first time, we have a national standard for residential energy efficiency workers.
This standard, the Home Energy Professional (HEP) has been put in place by DOE in the low income Weatherization Assistance Program. This is the highest standard ever developed. HEP Auditors and Inspectors are true building scientists.
Pennsylvania is very fortunate to have two training centers which have been accredited nationally to train to this new national standard. ECA's is one of them.
In order to take full advantage of the growth in energy efficiency, solar, wind and other aspects of the clean energy industry, Pennsylvania needs to really focus on workforce development, and align its efforts to support this all important industry.
To my knowledge, outside of a little bit of training done by DCED for the WAP program, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is not doing anything to support workforce development in the clean energy industry.
At the same time that the clean energy industry is rapidly growing, the utility industry as a whole is facing a serious issue with its own workforce: the baby boomers are retiring, creating a brain drain of sorts.
Over 29 percent of workers in the utility industry are age 55 or older. According to Department of Labor  reports, 10 percent of the workforce will retire this year, and another 10 percent will retire next year.
The utility industry is also facing unprecedented change from technological developments, and diversification of fuel sources, not to mention the challenges of climate change.
I would suggest that part of the educational crisis we face in Pennsylvania is that we haven't developed a strategy which can help build the clean energy workforce we need to meet the energy challenges we face.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) Schools are a key part of the solution.
Once considered a dumping ground for low performing students, Philadelphia's Career and Technical Education (CTE) program has been one of the few bright spots for the School District Despite a significant lack of resources, district wide, the CTE schools have quietly produced some of the best outcomes for students in the City--e.g., (according The Philadelphia School District's publication THE NOTEBOOK)--
-- CTE students graduate at higher rates. The CTE graduation rate was 84 percent, compared to 62 percent citywide, and they were more likely to graduate on time.
-- The racial "achievement gap" for graduation is almost eliminated. Black and Latino CTE students graduate at almost the same levels as White and Asian students.
-- CTE students report better "soft" outcomes. The students reported more positive experiences than non-CTE students in areas like goal-setting, planning, recovering from setbacks, and staying engaged with classes.
I would strongly recommend that there be a Task Force created to study how to create a pipeline of technical training leading to national credentials and consistent with industry standards to insure that Pennsylvania can capture its full share of these great clean energy jobs.
Thank you very much for this opportunity.
For more information on programs, initiatives and upcoming events, visit the Energy Coordinating Agency website.
DEP Secretary John Quigley also testified before the Committee saying, "The market efficacy and the economics of clean energy development and energy efficiency show that they can not only be a part of the nation’s energy grid but integral to the nation’s economy.
"There’s an immense economic opportunity for all states, and Pennsylvania, I think, in particular, to embrace alternative energy, embrace energy efficiency, embrace storage technologies, create jobs, and accelerate the development of our economy."
Also presenting testimony were--
-- Ken MacDougall, National Electrical Contractors Association
-- Nancy Mifflin, American Association of Blacks In Energy
-- Ron Celentano, PA Solar Energy Industries Association
-- Eric Miller, Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance Clean Jobs Pennsylvania Report
-- Khari Mosley, BlueGreen Alliance In PA
Copies of all written testimony presented at the hearing are available online.
Energy Efficiency Keeps Electricity Affordable, Reduces Environmental Costs

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