Efficiency Investments Saved Nissan ‘More than $11.5m per Year,’ ACEEE Reports

After Hurricane Katrina in 2006, amidst rising natural gas prices, Nissan North America implemented a host of energy efficiency investments that have reduced its US manufacturing plants’ overall energy consumption by more than 30 percent, saving Nissan more than $11.5 million per year, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s latest report.

Energy Efficiency Job Creation: Real World Experiences describes programs, policies and business models that have led to regional increases in employment. Nissan North America is one of six profiles of real-world energy efficiency job creation in ACEEE’s report.

The automaker employs 13,000 American workers in its Smyrna and Decherd plants in Tennessee, and at its Canton, Miss. location. Implementing these energy-efficiency measures — including installing variable-frequency drives, reducing its number of air compressors, submetering and monitoring, upgrading and replacing chillers, lighting and controls — allowed Nissan to increase the size of its power train plant in Decherd, which also increased its global competitiveness, the report says.

Nissan also received a $1.4 billion loan from the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee program to retrofit its Smyrna plant, which produces the electric Nissan Leaf.

Aggressively pursuing comprehensive energy efficiency policies and initiatives could potentially save the US economy $1.2 trillion by 2020, ACEEE says in the report. In the long term, deploying more advanced energy-saving technologies could support a net increase of 1.3 to 1.9 million jobs by 2050.

In addition to Nissan, ACEEE profiles Opower, New York Greener Greater Buildings Plan, the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development’s low-income weatherization program, Johnson Controls’ work with the Wisconsin Energy Initiative and General Electric’s Appliance Park headquarters in in Louisville, Ky.

Opower is a privately held software company that partners with 70 utilities to develop feedback reports on home energy performance. These reports have demonstrated average savings from 1.5 to 3.5 percent, which has been validated in more than 10 independent evaluations, the ACEEE study says. Opower estimates it has saved customers more than $150 million in energy savings.

GE’s Appliance Park has grown along with consumers’ demand for more efficient appliances, according to ACEEE. The park now employs more than 5,000 full-time employees, and as of 2011, GE’s more than 750 Energy-Star lighting and appliances account for more than 70 percent of the company’s total dollar sales.

The ACEEE report cites a 2010 study commissioned by GE that shows that the company directly and indirectly generates $1.6 billion in Kentucky from local purchasing and other mechanisms.

Earlier this month, ACEEE released its sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, finding that the top 10 energy efficiency states are Massachusetts (in its second year atop the rankings), California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota.

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