Energy Efficiency Programs
Connecticut may be a small state, but in recent years it has become a big leader in energy efficiency. As one of only seven states with a formal goal of achieving all cost-effective energy efficiency, Connecticut has consistently ranked among the top ten in ACEEE’s annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard.
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.
There’s been a steady drumbeat of reports about coal and other power plant retirements in the face of low natural gas prices, aging plants, and new environmental regulations. As discussed in a recent ACEEE blog post, electricity use has been flat in recent years, although many forecasts continue to project modest growth (e.g., EIA projects electricity consumption to increase 0.8% per year).
Ask just about anyone involved in the utility energy efficiency industry where the best utility system integrated resource planning (IRP) is conducted, and they’ll say it’s the Pacific Northwest. And ask anyone familiar with that work what name comes to mind in connection with that effort, and it’s Tom Eckman.
“How much energy do cities use?” We get that question a lot. The answer is, excepting a few cities, we generally don’t know. Only a handful of cities publish their energy use, and while the Energy Information Administration collects and reports a lot of great data on state- and utility-level energy consumption, they do not report city-level data.
Much like the proverbial ‘juice’ by which it’s often referred, electricity can go a long way for those who make a habit of squeezing every last drop of what they have. When everyone adopts this mindset, we all win, freeing up resources to dedicate to other critical needs. That’s the commonsense approach the utility sector has increasingly recognized and embraced over the years, harnessing efficiency to avoid or defer costs such as developing new energy supplies, building transmission infrastructure, and complying with environmental rules.
There are over 25 million small enterprises that form the backbone of our national economy. They are critical to the health of local economies, generating well over half of net new private-sector jobs, according to the US Small Business Administration. Many are home-based firms with few employees, but many also occupy commercial retail space. The small business sector uses over 30% of all commercial space, more than 20 billion square feet of buildings to be heated, cooled, and lit up.
Many people groan when they see their utility bill spike after a cold February, but for some it is more than just an annoyance. Imagine if you had to under-heat your home during that cold February because you knew you wouldn’t be able to afford the utility bill. Imagine if you didn’t realize how much it would cost to heat your home to a comfortable temperature, and are now stuck with a bill larger than you can afford.
The industrial sector represents a big opportunity for low-cost energy savings from utility energy efficiency programs. In general, investments in energy efficiency lower operating costs for manufacturers, which increases their productivity and improves competitiveness. When these investments are made through utility programs, businesses get the added value of access to technical expertise, project implementation support, and financial incentives that reduce initial costs.
Electric utilities and independent statewide program administrators deliver a substantial share of efficiency programs across the country. Some utilities have delivered such programs for decades. Since the mid-2000s, though, the size and scope of the programs have grown dramatically. Today, utilities and administrators implement energy efficiency programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.