When the Office of Sustainability was established in 2005, the City of Cleveland established sustainability as a priority and a decision making framework. Over the past seven years, we have developed policy, programs and initiatives to meet our goals of quality of life, resource efficiency and cost savings, including the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative—a ten-year effort to design and develop a sustainable economy for Cleveland.
Energy efficiency and advanced and renewable energy are key components of this strategy and recent progress in this area may be under attack. The City of Cleveland and many Sustainable Cleveland stakeholders are committed to energy conservation, energy efficiency and advanced and renewable energy—as a way to save money, to protect the environment and as a driver for an economy based in sustainability.
In 2008, the City voluntary adopted an advanced and renewable energy portfolio standard for Cleveland Public Power and supported SB 221 in its inception. In 2012, the City has joined the Better Building Challenge and the newly formed Cleveland 2030 District, leading by example through a commitment to energy energy efficiency and greening our buildings.
The benefits of Ohio’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS), as outlined in SB 221 (2008) and supported in SB 315 (2012), are critical to the residents and businesses throughout the City of Cleveland. The energy efficiency efforts in Ohio’s EERS improve our bottom line, put people in our community to work, make our businesses more competitive, and save residential customers money. The rebates available through Ohio electric utility companies have had a positive impact on our efforts to green our building stock in Cleveland and are a key incentive for work such as the Cleveland Energy $aver program for the residential sector and work spearheaded by COSE for the business and manufacturing sectors.
The City of Cleveland has focused time and effort developing and implementing sustainability goals to help advance our city. Chief among these efforts has been our commitment to the development of more energy efficient buildings and operations in our City. As part of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, we have goals to increase the number of certified green buildings, the growth in the green economy, the amount of energy from renewable sources, and to decrease our carbon footprint. We see energy efficiency as an important way to strengthen our bottom line, cutting energy waste from our budget. Presently, the City of Cleveland is wrapping up $4 Million in energy efficiency and conservation projects that have been implemented since 2010.
We also recognize the important job creation benefits to our community associated with energy efficiency investments. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has found energy efficiency investments create jobs at three times the rate of investments in traditional energy sources. Even more importantly, energy efficiency is a labor-intensive industry that creates jobs locally. Rather than sending dollars to generation resources outside the community, we can invest at home, dedicating resources to local businesses working on the ground to help build our city’s energy future and create jobs.
The energy efficiency programs developed under Ohio’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard are working in our community. Cleveland residents and businesses have continued to take advantage of programs to improve the performance of their homes and businesses. Without these programs, opportunities for energy savings investments are limited and residents and businesses will lose the ability to stay ahead of the energy cost curve. What is more, energy efficiency is cheap. According to the Ohio Manufacturers Association, “The cost of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy efficiency averages around 3 cents per kWh; a new natural gas plant, on the other hand, has an average cost of 8 cents per kWh. In other words, pursuing energy efficiency results in significantly lower total energy costs for Ohioans.”
Even with the state’s expanded natural gas resources, energy efficiency continues to offer a sensible way to protect against future energy cost increases. We recognize that consumers must pay for energy efficiency programs through bills, but the costs consumers pay for these programs is far outweighed by the savings they provide.
According to American Electric Power (AEP), energy efficiency programs in their service territory will cost customers $436 million between 2009 and 2014, but will save customers a total of $1.483 billion – a net savings of more than $1 billion. First Energy estimates customer savings to be more than $700 million throughout the same period. In addition to benefits from program implementation, the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard leads to lower overall energy costs due to reduced market demand from efficiency investments, according to the Ohio Manufacturing Association.
As the economies of Ohio and Cleveland continue to recover, we cannot afford to abandon energy efficiency programs at this time. Ohio must affirm its support for lower electricity bills, increased jobs, and sustainability by supporting the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard.