Today, most American households pay for electric service via a two-part electric rate. This typically consists of a small, fixed customer charge ($ per month) and an energy rate applied per unit of electricity ($ per kilowatt hour). There are some variations on this model, including energy rates that vary based on time of day or total monthly consumption, but the basic structure of residential rates hasn’t changed much over time. In recent years, utilities have proposed significant departures to this format to address the changing dynamics of the electric utility industry.
As the new year begins, we expect 2017 will bring increased investments in energy efficiency and other efforts to save energy.
Looking for some good clean energy news to close the year? In Michigan today, Governor Rick Snyder signed two sweeping bills that the state's legislature passed on December 15th, the last day of its end-of-year ‘lame duck’ session. The legislation extends and improves both the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).
Five years ago, ACEEE found that energy efficiency could reduce projected 2050 US energy use by 40–60%. As a result, ACEEE established a strategic goal to reduce projected 2050 energy use by 50%. We thought it was time to check on our progress and ask whether our goal still seems reasonable. We find that energy use has been stable in recent years, reversing historical growth, a very positive development that is due in significant part to increasing our energy efficiency.
Now that the hard-fought 2016 election is over, I think it is useful to consider its impact on energy efficiency policy. No doubt, a lot of uncertainty remains because of President-elect Donald Trump’s lack of specificity on many issues. Yet given the bipartisan, good-for-business appeal of energy efficiency, I see potential paths forward and work to be done.
How is energy efficiency connected to community resilience? We answered that question in a report last year, Enhancing Community Resilience through Energy Efficiency. The report found that energy efficiency should be a core resilience strategy because it strengthens energy systems and the communities they serve by providing more reliable and affordable energy.
Local governments of all sizes can invest days, months, and years into advancing energy efficiency programs and policies. Yet many go unrecognized for their efforts. Because the City Energy Efficiency Scorecard only covers 51 large cities, ACEEE created the Local Energy Efficiency Self-Scoring Tool so that any community can evaluate itself.
Looking at studies that are critical of energy efficiency: identifying useful findings and where they fall short
Several papers in the last few years claim to show that particular energy efficiency programs and policies do not work or are too expensive. We have commented on some of these in blog posts (see here, here, and here), noting that some of them do have useful insights, but also that many of them make serious mistakes.