In the 1970s and 1980s, America's push for energy conservation meant "doing less with less" - lowering the thermostat, turning off lights, donning a sweater, and leaving the car in the garage. Following up his testimony from earlier this month, Dan Reicher, Google.org's Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, visited Capitol Hill again this week to discuss a new 21st Century approach - harnessing technology to achieve greater energy efficiency and "do more with less."
The hearing, which also featured Ian Bowles, Massachusetts' Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, focused on ways in which consumers, businesses, and government can work together to achieve greater energy efficiency. Studies have shown that efficiency opportunities can cut global energy demand to less than half of what is projected by 2020.
Dan stressed the need for a new vision for how America generates, transmits, and uses electricity. He noted that the increasing interplay between energy hardware and information software, along with the rise of the Internet and the connectivity it brings, adds to the potential to make and use energy more productively. From smart meters and smart appliances to smart homes and a smart grid, we are poised to significantly advance our ability to monitor and manage energy.
Dan highlighted Google.org's RechargeIT initiative and discussed the efficiency advantages of plug-in vehicles. He emphasized how the government could help get more plug-ins on the road by providing financial incentives, investing in our national electricity infrastructure, funding R&D, and modernizing our regulatory system to permit real-time pricing of power.
Dan's other proposals include implementing an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which would set efficiency resource targets for electricity and gas suppliers. He also called for increased federal support for weatherizing energy inefficient homes in low-income communities, and for improved financial incentives to encourage private-sector investment in promising clean energy technologies.
Check out Dan's testimony and video from the hearing.