Utility Regulation & Policy
Electricity bills don’t make for terribly exciting reading, but as boring as they may look, there is much more going on beneath the surface. Whereas the price most people pay for electricity remains steady from month to month, electricity costs can change dramatically from one hour to the next for the utilities that send the bills. For example, weather can cause demand to spike, raising prices as well, and suddenly the cost of the electricity is much different from the price we see on our bill.
The increased prevalence of distributed energy resources is driving changes to utility planning. Our new report, The Role of Energy Efficiency in a Distributed Energy Future, found that most utilities are not currently using energy efficiency in distribution system planning, but several states are pursuing new approaches to using efficiency to displace traditional distribution infrastructure upgrades and integrate more renewables into the grid.
With a critical vote coming as soon as Monday, Iowa is at an important crossroads as legislative efforts threaten to scale back energy efficiency. In recent weeks, legislators have introduced bills that would deprive homes and businesses of valuable programs that keep energy costs down, create jobs, reduce pollution, and defer construction on costly and excessive energy generation.
During the holiday season, we are inundated with marketing messages as well as goods and services — hallmarks of our market economy. Popular products include holiday lights, once made only with incandescent bulbs but now mostly with LEDs. This shift to efficient LEDs is an offshoot of a much larger market transformation in lighting, which has saved vast amounts of energy.
A recent federal proposal puts a spotlight on an uncommonly popular topic: wholesale energy markets. Our new research shows that energy efficiency has provided steadily increasing value to grid operators and customers in two such markets. Our report, Energy Efficiency in Capacity Auctions: A Historical Review of Value, finds that since they have been included, efficiency resources have almost tripled in the Mid-Atlantic auction and almost quadrupled in a similar auction in New England.
Residents and businesses across the country are saving energy and money thanks to smart state policies. Their stories help explain why some states climbed in our 2017 State Scorecard or maintained strong standings. This year for the first time, we included stories of individuals and communities in our state-specific score sheets.
Energy efficiency programs are especially important for low-income customers. Well-designed programs can help relieve the significant energy burdens faced by low-income families and also provide benefits like increased comfort and healthier homes. But getting these programs right takes careful planning.
As gas and electric utilities increasingly rely on energy efficiency as a resource, innovative ways to evaluate its impacts are emerging. Our new report Recent Developments in Energy Efficiency Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification presents examples of what pioneering states and utilities are doing to address challenges and take steps to evolve in a changing utility landscape.
Washington, DC—As more states struggle with extreme weather events, the 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard gives state-level policymakers a road map for building stronger and more-resilient communities. This 11th annual report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), released today, shows which states are doing the best on energy efficiency — a critical tool for withstanding and recovering from storms and economic shocks.
Southeastern residents currently face historically high poverty rates, and low-income households spend an average of three times as much on energy bills, as a portion of their monthly income, than other families. Energy efficiency investments could help lower energy bills, but low-income residents in the region often lack access to energy-saving upgrades.