Being as they are from the same political party, it might not be a huge surprise that former President Bill Clinton is joining current Commander in Chief Barack Obama in an effort to reduce energy costs. However, given the fact that the former leader’s wife lost in her bid for the Democratic presidential bid to Obama in 2008, their partnership may be considered news in and of itself. This being a news site, not a political one, the more pertinent information is the nature of their work.
The Associated Press is reporting that the president’s plan will save $4 billion. Perhaps most importantly, the “effort to increase the energy efficiency of government and private sector buildings, aiming for fuel savings and job creation [comes] at no cost to taxpayers.” According to a press release from the White House “60 CEOs, mayors, university presidents, and labor leaders [yesterday] committed to invest nearly $2 billion of private capital into energy efficiency projects; and to upgrade energy performance by a minimum of 20% by 2020 in 1.6 billion square feet of office, industrial, municipal, hospital, university, community college and school buildings.” In order to achieve the goal of “no cost to taxpayers” the $4 billion will be recouped through the energy savings. This process is referred to as performance contracting, mentioned here by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.
Interestingly enough, performance contracting, also known as Energy Savings Performance Contracts, was originally implemented during Clinton’s administration. However, the AP mentions that it has been used infrequently. “The proposal, to be announced by Obama and Clinton on Friday, would upgrade buildings over the next two years with a goal of improving energy performance by 20 percent by 2020.” The story cites Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, who claims that the program “could generate about 50,000 jobs over two years.”
The White House announcement “builds on a commitment made by 14 partners at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in June to make energy upgrades across 300 million square feet, and to invest $500 million in private sector financing in energy efficiency projects.” The June commitment by CGI is part of the Better Buildings Challenge. “The Challenge is part of the Better Buildings Initiative launched in February by President Obama, and is spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to support job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades to make America’s buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade, reducing energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion.” Capitalizing on reducing energy consumption represents not only a fiscal savings for the short term, but one that will continue to pay dividends after the initial investment is paid off.