Alliance to save energy

established IN 1977, the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) is a nonprofit coalition of business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders. The ASE supports energy efficiency as a cost-effective energy resource under existing market conditions and endorses energy-efficiency policies that reduce costs to society and individual consumers, and that limit greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the global climate. To achieve these results, the ASE undertakes research, educational programs, and policy advocacy; plans and implements energy-efficiency projects; promotes technological innovation and collaboration; and sets up public-private partnerships, both in the United States and in other countries.

The alliance's mission is to promote "energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment and greater energy security." Its corporate statement describes the ASE as leading "worldwide energy-efficiency initiatives in research, policy advocacy, education, technology deployment, and communications that impact all sectors of the economy." Leaders from academia, business, government, and other fields serve on the board of directors.


Republican Senator Charles Percy and Democratic Senator, former Vice President, and presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey founded the ASE in 1977. In the same year, U.S. President Jimmy Carter also established the Department of Energy. Since its founding, the ASE has been a bipartisan endeavor. It had to face the energy crisis of the late 1970s, when the United States recognized its oil dependency and the economic importance of energy. In those years, the Iranian Revolution generated a second, severe oil crisis worldwide (the first had occurred in 1973 with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries [OPEC] oil embargo). The crisis caused the doubling of oil prices. The Three Mile Island accident exposed the risks of nuclear energy. The ASE started its first major campaign in 1978, mounting a national television public-service advertising campaign that used Gregory Peck to promote energy conservation. The slogan of the campaign was "Don't Blow It America."

During Ronald Reagan's presidency, characterized by drastic reductions in federal efficiency activities, the alliance restructured its organization by initiating new research programs and pilot demonstrations that outlined innovative methods to promote energy efficiency in private markets. In the first half of the 1980s, the ASE came to the forefront in national debates on energy efficiency. In 1982, it promoted the adoption of utility demand-side management, designing the first methodology to evaluate efficiency as an energy resource for Arkansas Power and Light. Two years later, the ASE began to explore the use of energy-saving performance contracting, producing workbooks and hosting seminars on innovative, private sector financing techniques for energy-efficiency projects. The alliance also promoted legislation to allow governors to shift fuel assistance funds into energy-efficiency upgrades in low-income homes. Encouraged by then-alliance chairman Senator John Heinz, this piece of legislation devoted nearly $2.5 billion into energy-efficiency investments.

The nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986 renewed interest in energy saving at a time when the collapse of oil prices had given a false impression of abundance. The following year, President Reagan first vetoed, but then signed, the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act, fixing federal energy-efficiency standards for many commonly used appliances. The alliance began to arrange the energy-efficiency industry so that its voice could be heard on national energy policy issues.

The 1990s opened with the Gulf War, which again called public attention to energy issues. In 1991, the alliance indicted the federal government's poor performance in reducing energy use in the government's own facilities. The ASE calculated that the federal government wasted more than $1 billion annually of taxpayers' money. The ASE worked closely with the energy-efficiency industry to propose legislative responses to the problem. Thanks to the lobbying of the ASE and other associations for energy efficiency, President George W. Bush signed the comprehensive Energy Policy Act, including major terms to improve federal energy management, building codes, equipment standards, and home energy ratings.

Beginning in 1993, the alliance played a major role in the creation of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Building Codes Assistance Project, the Export Council for Energy Efficiency, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council, and the Hungarian Energy

Consumers Association. Recognizing that the need for energy efficiency was becoming a global emergency, the alliance also launched an international program resulting in projects in Russia, Ukraine, Central Europe, Mexico, Ghana, and China. As the U.S. dependence on imported oil reached a new record in 1994, the ASE started to cooperate more closely with the energy-efficiency industry to undertake educational and market development export missions to Mexico, then to Portugal and China. New business deals created American jobs while promoting a cleaner global environment.

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