Only three hours after getting sworn in as energy secretary, Dr. Ernest Moniz went to the Washington convention center this afternoon to deliver his first speech in office.
Secretary Moniz spoke to a crowd at the Energy Efficiency Global Forum about his upcoming agenda as secretary.
"Efficiency is going to be a big focus going forward," he said. "I just don't see the solutions to our biggest energy and environmental challenges without a very big demand-side response. That's why it's important to move this way, way up in our priorities." The audience applauded.
Moniz's decision to speak at an energy efficiency conference "speaks volumes about how important efficiency is" to his plans at the Department of Energy, said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.
Indeed, Moniz made it very clear that efficiency would be a central priority during his tenure. He backed up President Obama's call in the State of the Union for doubling U.S. energy productivity by 2030 -- a goal that was outlined in great detail by an expert commission formed by the Alliance to Save Energy.
In order to reach that goal, Moniz said he would be focusing on how to leverage efforts on the state level.
"States and regions are certainly where a lot of the action goes," he said. As a result, a lot of the focus will be on "strengthening our team and working with the states."
Moniz said that another one of his top goals would be to complete new appliance and equipment standards that are currently stuck in limbo. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the White House and Energy Department have delayed at least eight efficiency standards -- sometimes for years. Those delays are estimated to be costing consumers $3.7 billion in energy costs.
"I will certainly be turning my attention to this log jam going forward," he promised.
Moniz also said he wanted to "pick up the pace" on approving $2 billion in energy savings performance contracts on federal buildings, improving the fuel efficiency of automobiles and working with manufacturers on innovative efficiency solutions.
Finally, Moniz expressed his support for the Shaheen-Portman bill currently moving forward in the Senate that would establish regulatory and funding tools to dramatically improve the efficiency of America's building stock.
"This is the kind of initiative that I think has a chance to move forward. Energy efficiency is a simple message. It’s going to be a focal point in my time as secretary," said Moniz.
Moniz stuck almost exclusively to energy efficiency, as that was the target audience at the event. He concluded with a simple statement about transparency at the Department of Energy: "We want you to know what we have in mind. We wanted to be very open."