Word from the experts
Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy
What is the Alliance to Save Energy’s primary goal and objective?
Our mission is to advance energy efficiency worldwide. And we do that because of the benefits that accrue from deploying energy efficiency, which include economic security, national security, and improvements to the environment.
The Alliance has influence on individuals, corporations, and governments. Where is the strongest focus?
We have wide interests, and it's hard to say which area we focus on most. We believe that you have to tackle it all. You've got to tackle energy waste in the industrial sector, in the transportation sector, and in the building sector, which is where you get to consumers and end use.
What would you say the Alliance’s top accomplishments have been?
Certainly, a hallmark of our success has been the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act. It will drive energy efficiency and transform our energy use in the United States more than any other single piece of legislation. The new law will lower our energy use by 7% by 2020. Electricity use will be reduced by 10%. And our greenhouse gas emissions will be lowered by 9% from the baseline projections.
Why do you focus specifically on energy efficiency, and what are the benefits?
We focus specifically on energy efficiency because it's the cheapest, quickest, cleanest way to extend our energy supplies and tackle climate change – and it does both at the same time.
The benefit of focusing just on energy efficiency and not on other environmental issues or sustainability and greening issues is that it allows us to bring together individuals and companies and policymakers who otherwise would not be able to sign up for the same mission.
Republicans and Democrats alike support energy efficiency. They may come at it for different reasons. Some are there because they see it as an energy security imperative. Climate issues aren't driving them to the energy efficiency table. It's security.
Others are driven to the efficiency table for economic reasons. You're seeing that in a big way with the stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and now with the new jobs bill. We are rebuilding our economy on a foundation of energy efficiency. And so, people that have economic interests see the use of energy as having an economic impact, and are drawn to the efficiency cause.
Keeping our mission narrowly focused on energy efficiency allows us to have the widest pool of supporters, to have the largest impact, and I think to do the most good.
I want to turn to Schneider Electric’s involvement with the Alliance. What beliefs do the two organizations share? And what kind of role has Schneider Electric played in the Alliance?
I think Schneider Electric is working across many of its different businesses to drive energy efficiency into the marketplace. So that is central and core to the mission of the Alliance to Save Energy. And we want to recognize that effort, help it, encourage it in any way we can, and help create a market circumstance that allows Schneider Electric's businesses to flourish.
We have worked very well with Schneider Electric in terms of the organization of the international conference that we do, EE Global. At past conferences, Schneider Electric helped us make sure that the right people were brought together from around the world, and that the right topics were discussed. We really worked together to make sure that partnerships and alliances were created that could help further our mission to drive energy efficiency, which in turn furthers Schneider Electric’s business interests in doing the same thing.
We also have worked with Schneider Electric on the development of new policy initiatives and bringing policymakers together to share best practices and best policies. We engage policymakers to talk about the challenges that they face and ways that they can move forward on policy that will advance energy efficiency. A specific example of this is how Schneider Electric worked with us to host a delegation of Chinese officials who came to the US on a mission to learn more about how the US is deploying energy efficiency.
In addition, we have worked with folks from Schneider Electric on the green grid activities to make sure that from the point of generation all the way through to the end user, we're looking at how to drive energy efficiency into our electric grid system. So that's been an area where we've been very pleased with our relationship with Schneider Electric.
Beyond that, lending your expertise, your knowledge, and your talent pool, particularly from the leadership of your company, to us for speaking engagements and for outreach has been very important to delivering our message on energy efficiency.
Let's move to the future. Where do you see the Alliance to Save Energy going in the future? How will the organization evolve? And what are some of the major goals?
We have a five-year strategic plan in place. I think our overarching goal is really in two parts. One is to put the US on the path to being the most energy-efficient economy in the world. So that's our US-focused goal.
Our global-focused goal is to make the Alliance to Save Energy the premier energy efficiency organization in the world, driving best practices and policies. And within that goal, that's where we get to this seeding and creating sister organizations in other countries and regions of the world, and growing the EE Global Forum to be the undisputed, premier international gathering of the world's energy efficiency industry.
In order to be able to do all of that, the goal for the organization is to grow very significantly, both in terms of financial resources, and human and technical capability.
What does ‘the new energy world order’ mean to you?
The new energy world order speaks to the paradigm shift that is taking place today, a shift not just to clean energy sources and technologies, but to better ways of using energy. And so, the new energy world order has to start with a foundation of energy efficiency. We have to cut waste out of the system. If we don’t do that, I fear that whatever resources we have, whether they are conventional, carbon-based sources, or renewable, we simply won't have enough to satisfy the growing demands of the world.
So a new energy world order demands and dictates widespread energy efficiency, and continuous improvements in our energy use and management in order to sustain the world and allow the global economy to flourish.
As the president of the Alliance, what are your personal goals for the organization?
To make sure that we're financially sound and that we have a work environment that promotes excellent performance and professional fulfillment for all of the folks who work with us.