A look across the US landscape reveals several rich markets for energy efficiency over the next year. Some emerge out of unfortunate natural disasters; others arise from the growing realization by state governments that it is typically cheaper to save energy than produce it.
Superstorm Sandy leveled neighborhoods in New York, cracked coastal mansions in half, and left tens of thousands still without power weeks after its devastating late October strike. Some buildings were so damaged, utilities simply could not re-connect them to the grid.
With $32 billion in rubble left behind, the rehabilitation effort in the New York is huge. It requires new walls, roofs, wires, lights, heating systems and appliances, offering a tremendous opportunity to introduce more efficient replacements.
To that end, environmental groups are pushing New York regulators to redirect some of the state’s energy efficiency money into a disaster relief fund. The money could go toward incentives that would encourage New Yorkers to choose efficient building materials and appliances as they rebuild.
Not doing so would constitute a missed opportunity, one that the state is likely to regret as it struggles to meet a goal to cut energy use 15 percent by 2015, according to a letter signed by Pace Energy & Climate Center, Sierra Club, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and Environmental Advocates of New York.