Cal Shirley

Cal Shirley

NEEA funding cuts shortchange people of the Northwest

Co-authored with Brian Simmons, Vice President at CLEAResult

Energy efficiency is a powerhouse driving the Pacific Northwest’s clean energy economy and helping us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We come to the world of efficiency from different but very related spheres; one as a longtime advocate for clean energy and climate action who has seen time and again that energy efficiency is the cheapest resource we can buy that provides a huge assist to our climate challenges, and one who has built a successful business by maximizing savings opportunities for utilities and other businesses.

We are therefore very alarmed about a proposal to drastically reduce funding for one of the region’s essential energy efficiency resources, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA). For over 18 years NEEA has worked on behalf of over 140 utilities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana to help the region deliver over 900 aMW of energy efficiency through market transformation.

An example of NEEA's work in energy efficiency:

NEEA’s strategic partnerships help identify and eliminate barriers to energy efficiency adoption; something utilities have a hard time doing on their own. Utility funding allows NEEA to reach across boundaries to capture large-scale energy savings opportunities to benefit both the environment and consumers; changing the landscape for products and practices at scale in the Northwest.

At first blush, what NEEA does might not seem very glamorous, “maximizing energy efficiency gains through market transformation” is a mouthful. But we challenge you to name a market behavior in the Northwest that NEEA hasn’t positively impacted; from heating and lighting our homes to streamlining water delivery for our farmers and food processors, NEEA’s impact is embedded in the fabric of our communities.

NEEA’s partnerships help deliver energy savings more cheaply than most individual utilities or programs that can change the entire landscape for products and practices at scale in the Northwest. For example, when NEEA recognized that energy efficient TVs were not a priority for retailers, they partnered with manufactures, utilities and retailers to help consumers identify the most efficient TVs. Today, TVs are 60% more energy efficient than just 3 years ago.

NEEA is now in the process of developing their next five-year strategic plan and budget. Unfortunately, NEEA’s governing board has proposed cutting the organization’s primary budget by nearly 30%. The proposed reductions won’t only affect funding, but also potential energy savings. As a region, we can’t afford to miss any significant opportunities to reduce energy use and consumer bills.

To learn more, a series of local public-input sessions and regional webinars on the budget proposal began April 21, and will conclude on Friday, May 2. Times and locations may be accessed at http://neea.org/get-involved/neea-strategic-planning.

Written comments may be emailed to [email protected].

Ann Gravatt's picture

Policy Advisor

, Climate Solutions

Ann was a member of Climate Solutions' staff for a number of years, first as Oregon Director for nearly three years and then as policy advisor.

Ann has more than a decade of energy experience, previously working as a consultant, policy advocate and attorney.  From 2002-2010, Ann was the Policy Director for the Renewable Northwest Project (RNP). At RNP, Ann was involved with key victories throughout the Northwest, including passage of renewable energy standards in Montana, Washington and Oregon. Ann also directed RNP’s state regulatory work, regularly appearing before the region’s utility commissions to advance strong clean energy policy.  

Ann practiced natural resources and energy law for several years in Portland and Washington, D.C. She also has a background in candidate and ballot initiative campaigns and public affairs. Ann has a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School and a B.A. from the University of Richmond.  

Ann and her husband, Brad Ouderkirk, are the parents to two young children and live in NE Portland.