Accu-Weld Hosts Forum Featuring U.S. Energy Secretary Chu
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu headlined a White House Clean Energy Economy Forum held yesterday at Accu-Weld, the window and door manufacturer based Bensalem, Pa. "The opportunities are staggering," he said, discussing the potential for energy savings available in homes and buildings, adding that steps to increase energy efficiency represent "the low-hanging fruit" in transforming the U.S. economy.
Such a transformation is "the basis of our new prosperity," Chu asserted, and his message was echoed by both Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who also spoke. Looking 20 years into the future, Chu stated, it's clear that energy prices will be significantly higher. Throughout the world, people agree that greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut to fight climate change. Energy independence is increasingly important to national security. Developing new technologies to address these realities is key maintaining economic competitiveness going forward and the U.S. needs to begin transforming its own economy now to maintain its leadership position in the world, he argued. Citing Wayne Gretzky's key to success in hockey, Chu added, "we need to skate to where the puck is going to be."
The Clean Energy Economy Forum panelists covered a range of topics, including bio-fuels,
hydro and wind power, in addition to energy efficiency.
"I can't stress enough how important energy efficiency is," Chu added, as he outlined a number of the Obama Administration's priorities on the clean energy front. He suggested steps taken in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as just the beginning. "Rebuilding the nation's infrastructure, so homes and buildings don't waste energy–this won't take years, this will take decades."
DOE is looking for homes and buildings to be 70 to 80 percent more efficient than they are today, Chu also stated, adding, "that's before you put on any solar panels."
Governor Rendell emphasized the job potential in moving to a greener economy. Pointing to the energy efficiency window tax credits, and how they benefit companies like Accu-Weld, he stated, "This is a real example of what the future holds." Accu-Weld was about to be closed down, when it was acquired by the Haddon family in February, and Rendell reported that the company has seen its sales increase 20 percent since the new ownership came in, thanks in part to the stimulus tax credits.
The energy efficient products the company offers represent "a smart investment" that can help homeowners not only save money, but conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the long-term, Rendell continued. "That's a pretty good commercial," he said to John Haddon, the company's CEO, who Rendell thanked for saving 140 jobs in acquiring the vinyl window maker .
It's time to "get real," said Governor Markell. Moving to a clean energy economy is not an environmental strategy, it is essential for economic competitiveness, he continued. He too emphasized the new jobs being created by moving toward alternative energy sources.