NOVI — Michigan could cut electric and gas use by its homes and businesses by nearly 15 percent without huge effort, saving $10 billion a year in the process.
That was the word at the DTE Energy – Engineering Society of Detroit 2014 Energy Conference and Exhibition from keynote speaker Sally A. Talberg, a commissioner on the Michigan Public Service Commission.
About 800 energy experts and managers attended the 17th annual event at Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace. It featured 17 educational sessions and dozens of exhibitors offering green energy products and services. Michigan’s advanced industry energy accelerator, NextEnergy, was also a partner in the event.
Talberg drew her conclusions from a survey of Michigan energy generation and use commissioned by the Snyder administration and released last November.
Overall, Talberg said, a 2013 study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory showed that 58 percent of energy used in the United States goes to waste. Residential buildings, she said, are only 65 percent efficient. And while 100 percent efficiency isn’t achieveable, the state and nation can take great strides toward greater efficiency.
And boy, does it pay off. The roughly $3 billion a year in spending required to achieve that efficiency, Talberg said, would produce $10 billion a year in cost savings, a 300 percent return on investment.
Talberg said smart state policy, education of energy users, partnerships in the energy industry, and continuing energy innovation all are required to achieve better efficiency.
That innovation was clearly on display at the exhibition part of Tuesday’s event. Vendors showed off advanced lighting, control systems and more.
Also, General Motors offered a high-tech vehicle ride and drive to attendees.
Also at the conference, energy efficiency awards were presented to the University of Michigan, Bedrock Real Estate, US Farathane and Art Van Furniture for their efforts in reducing energy waste and promoting efficiency.
The DTE-ESD event has grown substantially, according to Vicki Campbell, director of energy efficiency at DTE Energy. She said the original event had just 30 vendors and less than 200 attendees.
Overall, Campbell said, the takeaway from the event is “that great things are happening in Michigan” in energy innovation.
The event was made possible by diamond sponsor Leidos, gold sponsors Blue Cross and Blue Shied of Michigan and Blue Care Network, Citizens Insurance and Hartland Insurance Group Inc., and silver sponsors Belzona, Electro-Matic, Limbach, General Motors, Michigan Saves and Pure Michigan Business Connect.