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August 24, 2011

Replacing Coal with Energy Efficiency

Coal "(E)nergy efficiency investments made in the industrial sector can contribute to the modernization of our manufacturing sector, providing important benefits to local economies."

That's just one of the good points raised by our friends over at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in their new white paper entitled "Avoiding the Train-Wreck: Replacing Old Coal Plants with Energy Efficiency."

They released this white paper as a response to industry claiming the impending pollution standards and protections coming from the Environmental Protection Agency will be a "train-wreck," and ACEEE points out that increasing energy efficiency can be done quickly, much to the benefit of the economy (and our air and water quality if you're talking coal).

Energy efficiency is indeed another important way we can move beyond coal - add it to the list of great clean energy sources we can be using to replace coal as older plants are retired.

Finally, I found this conclusion to the ACEEE white paper very interesting:

"It has often been observed that crisis and opportunity are inextricably linked, as a crisis encourages us to push the envelope of innovation and accomplish feats we didn't think we were capable of. The so-called 'coal train wreck' may afford just such an opportunity to modernize our electric utility regulations to reflect a new century of different economic and energy markets, creating opportunities for the utility industry to define a new path to sustained profitability by selling efficiency services not just electricity, while ensuring reliable and affordable power to their customers."

While the Sierra Club believes the real train-wreck/crisis are all the true costs of dirty coal (serious health effects from its pollution, destruction of communities, excessive climate-disrupting pollution, etc...), we agree that this is an opportunity to seize in order to move beyond coal.

-- Heather Moyer

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