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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Neal Elliott

Aired August 15, 2003 - 20:36   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The investigation continues into the cause of the massive blackout.
Joining us now from Washington, Neal Elliott. He's the industrial program director for the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

Thanks very much, Neal, for joining us.

What's your bottom line right now? What went wrong from your assessment?

NEAL ELLIOTT, COUNCIL FOR ENERGY EFFICIENT ECONOMY: I think what we have really looked at is a fundamental mismatch between the energy supply situation in terms of transmission and demand. Demands outpace the ability of the grid to meet the customers' needs.

We have seen it grow...

BLITZER: Is this a problem -- is this something that money can fix in the short-term?

ELLIOTT: Money it fix it in the longterm. I think a little bit of public will is probably what is needed in the short-term. We have seen a similar situation, as was mentioned, back in California in 2000, 2001 with the blackouts out there. And there the first solution was actually to look at energy efficiency and conservation. That's measures that we can bring to the marketplace in the next 6 to 12 months and actually begin to address the side of supply rather than waiting for the costly measures that are going to be required over the next, probably decade to deal with the transmission infrastructure, as Chairman Wood mentioned a few minutes ago.

BLITZER: Well I got to you that energy conservation, using less power -- I'm here in Times Square right now -- you wouldn't know there was a power blackout 24 hours ago or so. This place is so well lit, so vibrant right now. Is this a mistake?

ELLIOTT: No, think I there is certainly no need to not use power. I think what we're trying to do is get the maximum benefit from the power that we use.

Today's -- for example, refrigerator, uses probably one-fifth of the electricity, the one that we bought 15 years ago does. And these are savings that pay for themselves or investments that pay for themselves from the savings. So I think we need to look at both sides of the picture, both the supply side, as Chairman Wood and the NERC gentleman spoke of from a few moments ago, in terms of building and investing in the grid. But there's also a need to, perhaps, temper the rate of growth of electricity consumption by using the electricity more wisely.

BLITZER: That's probably a dual-pronged, excellent idea, if possible to do it. Thank very much, Neal Elliott, for joining us.

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