Expected Chu Confirmation as DOE Sec. Signals Focus on Climate Change,Research into New Clean Energy

The Alliance to Save Energy today hailed the expected confirmation of Stephen Chu as energy secretary and praised his testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Washington, D.C., January 13, 2009 - The Alliance to Save Energy today hailed the expected confirmation of Stephen Chu as energy secretary and praised his testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Alliance President Kateri Callahan said Chu's background as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Nobel Prize-winning physicist will redound to the benefit of the nation, as he tackles urgent energy issues such as climate change, and to that of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as he makes a new commitment to basic and applied research. The Alliance also applauded Chu's goal of improving management and program implementation at DOE and ushering in a "new chapter of collaboration" with Congress.

"Secretary-designate Chu brings unequaled technical depth, the far-reaching vision needed to keep DOE at the forefront of innovation in both basic and applied science, and an understanding of what it takes to manage a large, multifaceted, world-class research establishment," she said.

Alliance Vice President for Programs Jeffrey Harris, a former LBNL scientist for 25 years, added, "Under Dr. Chu's guidance, LBNL - a leader in developing and introducing key energy efficiency technologies into the marketplace - has been one of the most innovative and effective institutions in applying science and technology to critical energy problems. This experience will help him lead DOE as our nation addresses the twin challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing new sources of clean energy to fuel a sustainable economy here and around the world."

Callahan noted that Chu's testimony today reflected the right priorities for moving the nation to a cleaner, more secure energy future: reducing greenhouse gas emissions; decreasing U.S. oil dependence; increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and appliances; increasing vehicle fuel efficiency and pushing development of plug-in hybrids; modernizing the electric grid; and increasing research and development into new energy technologies.

The Alliance said Chu should support increased DOE budget and staff resources across all energy use sectors, not just those he mentioned today - particularly federal energy efficiency and the U.S. industrial sector.

Callahan urged Chu to use his leadership role to more fully realize the potential of energy efficiency in the U.S. industrial sector by supporting increased funding for DOE's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP). The Alliance has called on Congress to fund the ITP at $100 million in the current fiscal year, $130 million in FY 2010, and $162 million in FY 2011.

"Increasing the energy efficiency of the manufacturing sector - which accounts for a third of U.S. energy consumption and 36 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions - allows the nation to address pressing energy and climate challenges without sacrificing economic growth," she said.

As an example of success in industrial energy efficiency, Callahan pointed to DOE's own Save Energy Now initiative. "By undertaking energy assessments at more than 580 industrial plants, that program has helped companies identify a whopping $937 million in energy savings - enhancing their bottom lines - while also avoiding 7.9 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Collaborative research and development by government and industry will bring even greater results in decades to come," she said.

Callahan said the partnerships that Chu developed with industry, academia, utilities, and developing nations while heading LBNL "are models for the types of investments DOE must make to attract and retain the brightest young people to careers in energy efficiency and clean energy supplies." In his confirmation testimony, Chu pledged to continue such partnerships as DOE secretary.

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