“Negawatts”, a termed coined by Amory Lovins in 1989 to describe savings created by using less energy, are becoming a reality. The fact that saving energy is much cheaper than building new power generation capacity has motivated the markets to create financial and other incentives to monetize that savings. According to an article in Renewable Energy World, several market mechanisms have emerged:
- Demand response: enrolling large users of energy in programs to lower their usage in return for compensation, which helps take pressure off the grid. Examples of demand response networks include Comverge and Gridpoint.
- White Tags: businesses earn energy savings certificates for the energy they send back to the grid based on efficiency measures they put in place. White Tags can then be sold or put toward achieving mandatory emission goals.
The potential of energy savings is largely untapped, but there is plenty of precedent for it in California. “Since the 1970s, California, through the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), has worked with utilities to encourage conservation rather than consumption. As a result, Californians now use about half as much electricity as other Americans.” –Glenn Croston, Renewable Energy World.
Carol Gulyas is a leader in the renewable energy community in Illinois, where she serves as VP of the Board of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. Recently she co-founded EcoAchievers -- a provider of online education for the renewable energy and sustainable living community. She spent 18 years in the direct marketing industry in New York and Chicago, and is currently a teaching librarian at Columbia College Chicago. Carol grew up in a small town in central Indiana, then lived in the Pacific Northwest, Lima, Peru, and New York City. She is inspired by reducing energy consumption through the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building technology.