On Aug. 30 President Barack Obama issued an executive order that will improve energy efficiency in U.S. industrial plants and utilities. Such investments in energy-efficient equipment and systems, including combined heat and power (CHP), could save at least $100 billion over the next decade, according to the White House.
Presidential executive orders have the full force of law (in other words, the same legal weight as a law passed by Congress), but do not require Congressional approval to take effect. Although Congress does have options for recourse on executive orders, it is unlikely that the 112th Congress will take recourse on Obama’s Aug. 30 executive order.
Executive Order Spurs U.S. Job Growth…
In addition to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the executive order will help add jobs as companies upgrade plants to improve energy performance. If the president’s goal of 40 GW of new CHP is met over the next decade, the White House estimates that would generate $40 to $80 billion of new capital investment in American manufacturing facilities. That’s good news for producers of efficient technologies, many of which are based in the United States.
“[Thursday’s] White House move illustrates that the economy can and will be made stronger through energy efficiency, and that it is an important part of a comprehensive and successful energy strategy,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan.
…And Curbs U.S. Energy Use
Compared with the residential, commercial, and transportation sectors, the industrial sector is the largest energy-consuming sector of the U.S. economy. Americans rely on industry to process raw materials and make all the products we use every day. Each year, the country’s 196,000 factories, refineries, steel mills, and other industrial plants use over 30 Quadrillion Btu of energy — nearly one-third of the energy used to power the whole nation. That’s why the president’s executive order has the potential to save so much energy.
“At the Alliance to Save Energy, we have seen first-hand what industrial energy efficiency can do,” Callahan said. She cited the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Superior Energy Performance program, which slashed industrial energy use by more than 20% in some instances, as well as DOE’s Better Buildings Better Plants program, which is working with 114 U.S. companies to reduce energy intensity by 25% through energy-efficient strategies like CHP.
More on the Aug. 30 Executive Order