Exelon CEO Pushes for Price on Carbon at ACEEE Meeting

Exelon Chair and Chief Executive Officer John W. Rowe on Tuesday urged utility industry leaders, regulators and policymakers at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s national conference to continue pushing for sensible climate change legislation that puts a price on carbon.

“The carbon-based free lunch is over. But while we can’t fix our climate problems for free, the price signal sent through a cap-and-trade system will drive low-carbon investments in the most inexpensive and efficient way possible,” said Rowe. “Putting a price on carbon is essential, because it will force us to do the cheapest things, like energy efficiency, first.”

In his speech, Rowe recognized the need to balance the nation’s fragile economic recovery with the need to address climate change and pointed to energy efficiency as a lower-cost way to meet those goals.

Exelon utilities ComEd and PECO plan to spend $290 million per year over the next five years on energy-efficiency and demand response programs. The plan aims to help customers reduce their energy use by more than 3.7 million megawatt hours and cut peak load by 388 megawatts. The company’s energy-efficiency programs place the company third among the nation’s utilities in terms of customer energy savings.

To drive additional energy efficiency investment, Rowe said the nation’s response to climate also must incorporate competition and the power of markets.

“Inaction on climate is not an option,” said Rowe. “If Congress does not act, the EPA will, and the result will be more arbitrary, more expensive, and more uncertainty for investors and the industry than a reasonable, market-based legislative solution.”

Rowe also announced that Exelon will not be renewing its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce due to the organization’s opposition to climate legislation.

Exelon’s energy-efficiency programs are a key part of the company’s own effort to address climate change through Exelon 2020, an environmental and business strategy to reduce, offset or displace more than 15 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year by 2020. In April 2009, Exelon said it had reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35 percent from 2001 to 2008.

Rowe is the industry’s longest-serving chief executive, with nearly 26 years.

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