How can we use intelligent efficiency to reduce power sector emissions?

Nobody likes waste. And yet when we produce, distribute and use electricity, we’re wasting up to two-thirds of the energy.

Although we can’t eliminate all of these losses, we could reduce waste and increase reliability through “intelligent efficiency”— technology like networked devices and sensors, smart grids and thermostats, and energy management systems.

If we used energy more efficiently, we’d also reduce the harmful carbon dioxide emissions coming from our power plants — and reduce our electric bills.

That’s why energy efficiency is expected to be a critical, low-cost path for states looking to reduce power plant emissions under the proposed Clean Power Plan.

C2ES is pulling together top experts in sustainability, efficiency, and technology from cities, states and business to explore how we can deploy intelligent efficiency to help reach Clean Power Plan emissions targets. (RSVP for our event Monday, May 18, in Washington, D.C.)

Just as technology can instantly connect us with people across the globe or monitor our calories and whether we’re burning enough of them, we have technology that will allow us to network and monitor how we produce, deliver and consume electricity.

Technology can improve energy efficiency in:

  • Generation: Network sensors and controls can increase the operational efficiency of power plants. Ravenswood, one of New York City’s largest power plants, was retrofitted with technologies from GE to optimize operations and increased output 5 percent using the same amount of fuel.
  • Distribution: An integrated system of smart meters, communication networks, and data management systems (also known advanced metering infrastructure) can improve efficiency. Dominion Virginia has installed 250,000 smart meters, cutting energy consumption 3 percent annually by delivering electricity at a more efficient voltage across the local network.
  • Usage: Advanced controls and energy management systems can minimize energy use in factories, offices and homes. Rudin Management, one of the largest privately-owned real estate companies in New York, developed a smart building management system that cut energy use 7 percent. Three recent studies found Nest smart thermostats could reduce consumer electricity bills 15 percent by scheduling energy use and using less of it.


Recent studies have suggested that intelligent efficiency could save up to 22 percent of electricity in just a few years.

Using more of these technologies would require more back-end computing power, but this marginal increase in energy use will be more than offset by significant reductions across the rest of the economy, according to the Global e-Sustainability Initiative. Plus, information and communications technologies can shift to large-scale, energy-efficient data centers, and companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have committed to powering more of these data centers with renewable energy.

These innovative technologies can help cities, states and businesses reduce emissions and costs while increasing the reliability of the grid.

We have the technology. What are the barriers to using more of it? What are the opportunities?

We’ll seek answers from energy and technology experts from leading companies like Intel, Nest, PSEG and EMC and from leaders of some of the country’s premier city and state energy efficiency programs in Illinois, Minnesota and Philadelphia.

I hope you will join us Monday, May 18, in Washington at our Solutions Forum on Driving Energy Efficiency with IT.