Alliance to Save Energy urges U.S. industry to become 10 percent more energy efficient to ease natural gas crisis

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2003 — The Alliance to Save Energy called on the nation’s industrial leaders to take the “10 Percent Pledge” to reduce their energy use and costs by 10 percent to help ease the natural gas supply and price crisis looming over the coming winter’s heating season.

Addressing a Capitol Hill briefing today exploring near-term solutions to the natural gas crunch, Alliance Acting Co-President Mark Hopkins called on Congress and the Bush Administration to urge the corporate community to adopt the 10 percent energy-reduction goal.

“For the last decade or so, low energy prices have lulled American industry into largely overlooking the many easy ways to save energy and improve their bottom lines with energy efficiency. But the natural gas shortage should focus their attention on energy-efficient improvements and ‘energy-smart’ behaviors that can help bail us out — just as California consumers and the business community helped turn around the state’s energy crisis,” Hopkins illustrated.

First, the Alliance encourages industrial plant managers to immediately secure an energy audit, which typically will reveal a wealth of no-cost options for saving energy and money. (See free resources below.) The easiest opportunities involve the shut-off of idle equipment and the proper sequencing of equipment start-up. Leaks in steam and compressed air systems drain operating budgets while boosting unnecessary demand for fuel and power. The majority of low-cost improvements have a financial payback of two years or less.

Hopkins cited three specific areas of industrial energy use, in order of greatest savings, that in total provide a 10 percent savings opportunity:

* Powerhouse fuel consumption and purchased steam. Steam, either produced on-site or purchased, plus power generated onsite, represent almost half of industrial fuel consumption. Improvement opportunities include combustion, distribution, heat recovery, and changes in plant operating practices. Current consumption: 8.3 quads; savings potential: 1.0 quad.

* Fuel direct to processes and building. Fuels sent directly to process activities and building climate control add up to over one-third of industry consumption. Savings can be found in combustion, heat recovery, insulation, and operating practices. Current consumption: 6.7 quads; savings potential: 0.5 quad.

* Purchased electricity. Almost two-thirds of electricity is devoted to motor-driven systems, with the balance going to such things as lighting, controls, and computers. Motor systems offer a 15 percent reduction opportunity. Current consumption: 2.9 quads; savings potential: 0.4 quad.

“Energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest, cleanest way to increase our natural gas and other energy supplies. We need a long-term approach to the natural gas shortage, and energy efficiency must be the foundation of our nation’s energy policy,” Hopkins said. “We may be running short of natural gas, but we will virtually never run out of energy efficiency. It is our nation’s inexhaustible energy supply.”

The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, economy, and national security.


The Alliance to Save Energy publishes a free e-mail newsletter Steaming Ahead. Subscribe at http://www.ase.org/steamingahead/subscribe.htm. A companion website (http://www.steamingahead.org) includes links to U.S. Department of Energy resources, including the Steam Sourcebook, diagnostic software, tip sheets, and other reference documents.

For free diagnostic tools that uncover problems in steam and compressed air systems, motors, pumps, insulation, and adjustable speed drives — and estimated savings from fixing them — see U.S. Department of Energy web site (http://www.oit.doe.gov/bestpractices).

A free energy audit from one of DOE’s 26 Industrial Assessment Centers can yield average energy cost savings of $50,000 a year, and an additional $38,000 in productivity enhancements and waste reduction, for small and medium-sized manufacturers. (http://www.oit.doe.gov/iac/)

Larger industrial facilities can submit proposals for a plant-wide assessment and cost-sharing of up to $100,000 for improvements under DOE’s yearly competitive solicitation. (http://www.oit.doe.gov/bestpractices/plant_wide_assessments.shtml)