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Energy Savings in 2013: CEOs Look to Renewables, Natural Gas, Tax Breaks

January 3, 2013 By Linda Hardesty

As the energy landscape shifts, business leaders sharpen their focus on ways to save money in 2013. Forbes identified five energy trends for the new year.

Companies generate their own renewable energy. According to Ernst & Young’s Global Annual Cleantech Insights and Trends study, some 67 percent of C-suite executives surveyed reported that their company-owned renewable generation levels are likely to increase over the next five years. At the same time, 52 percent of respondents say that their use of high-carbon fossil fuels – such as oil and coal – will decrease over the next five years.

Renewables increase, in general. Not only are companies looking to generate more of their own renewable energy, but they also are more interested in purchasing renewables. The Ernst & Young study found that 59 percent of CEOs will increase their renewable energy purchases over the next several years.

Pricing is considered among other factors. As energy management becomes more refined other variables are getting a closer look, including energy security, carbon reduction, price stability, regulatory compliance and brand reputation.

Commercial buildings are targeted. Since 20 percent of the annual energy consumption in the US is attributed to commercial buildings, those structures are getting more attention in terms of energy efficiency. The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, has been extended through 2013 and allows a tax deduction of $1.80 per square foot to owners of new or existing buildings who install (1) interior lighting; (2) building envelope, or (3) heating, cooling, ventilation, or hot water systems that reduce the building’s total energy and power cost by 50 percent or more in comparison to a building meeting minimum requirements set by ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001.

Natural gas reigns over oil. When possible, CEOs will choose relatively cheap natural gas over pricey oil. The US Energy Information Administration’s well-publicized recent forecast finds that natural gas production is reaching historic highs and is trading 35 times cheaper than oil. The high natural gas inventories should keep prices down for 2013.


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