Conservation or Clean Generation: Where Should Our Priorities Be?

Here in British Columbia, a province known as an environmental leader, government funding for alternative clean energy generation—like wind and PV—can be close to 4x the funding allocated to energy conservation implementation.

But what’s more sustainable and environmentally responsible—clean energy or energy conservation? Where should our priorities be?

Given the time to implement most clean generation projects vs. the comparatively low time to deploy most conservation tactics, conserving energy should still be a primary focus.

As Nathan Rothman of points out, “the cleanest and cheapest kilowatt of energy is the one never used.”

A report written by Bill Prindle and Maggie Eldridge of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and Mike Eckhardt and Alyssa Frederick of the American Council on Renewable Energy argues that energy efficiency and renewable energy are the “twin pillars” of sustainable energy policy, working hand-in-hand.

Energy efficiency is necessary to slowing the growth in energy demand so that clean energy can make cuts in fossil fuel use. If energy use continues to grow, the report says “renewable energy development will chase a receding target.” Reducing emissions isn’t enough, we also need to reduce the carbon content of the energy sources that we use. “Any serious vision of a sustainable energy economy thus requires major commitments to both efficiency and renewables.”

So if both green energy methods should be working together, shouldn’t government concerns and funding to be equally distributed?

What do you think?