Energy Efficiency Programs
With Ohio and Indiana having recently made major changes to their utility energy efficiency policy, and other states like Florida and Arizona considering it, this is an important time to review the evidence about the relative effectiveness of state poli
Some utilities are rushing to raise fixed charges. That would be bad for the economy and your utility bill
Slow growth in electricity demand (or, in some places, flat or declining sales) and growing numbers of customer photovoltaic systems are creating concern among utilities about their ability to adequately recover the costs associated with producing electricity. In response, there has been a disturbing trend around the country of utilities proposing to simply raise monthly “fixed charges,” or the charges we pay to the utility just for being a customer.
As you may know, I’ve been thinking about issues relating to the utility of the future, as documented in our June 2014 report. The report mentions, but does not emphasize, a potential emerging trend that could have a large impact on many utilities: the reduction of the traditional mid-afternoon peak, and the growth of an evening peak. (Peak is the time when demand for power is highest.)
ACEEE’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard was released last month. You may have seen the rankings, but did you know that combined heat and power (CHP) has its own chapter? We’ve been publishing the Scorecard since 2007. Each year, we’ve seen the policy landscape change, and we’ve refined the metrics to quantify state progress in each policy area to make sure they keep pace with current trends. The CHP chapter is no exception.
Voters made many decisions on Election Day. Governors were chosen and new laws were adopted. But one choice Arizona voters didn’t get to make may raise utility costs for families and businesses in the state.
Let’s have a conversation about water and energy. We know that the two resources are connected: We need water to produce electricity, mostly for thermal power plants (though we are going to put that aside today). We need energy to pump water out of the ground, treat it so it is potable, and then re-treat it after we use it to shower or wash clothes. We also need energy to heat water in our homes, businesses, and industrial facilities.
The E2e project released a working paper recently that evaluates the State Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program (SEEARP), funded in 2009 by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In the paper, authors Sebastien Houde and Joseph Aldy find that the SEEARP program provided little economic stimulation or energy savings. These results are not surprising, given problems with the design of the program (points that ACEEE made when states were crafting their versions of the program).
We’ve heard a lot lately about some large energy-using customers like large factories and retail chains seeking to opt out of energy efficiency programs. But what about the states and utility service territories where these customers are opting-in instead? It’s happening. It turns out that when efficiency programs are done right, customers are clamoring to participate.
This winter, ACEEE, in partnership with Energi Insurance Services, will host a second gathering of select members of the Small Lenders Energy Efficiency Community (SLEEC) in Washington, D.C. The initial SLEEC convening in October 2013 brought together small- to medium-size lenders to discuss strategies for expanding activity in the market for energy efficiency financing.
We spend a lot of time here at ACEEE with numbers. We calculate energy savings, efficiency investments, and jobs. Even with all this data at our fingertips, though, I’m always most curious to see the numbers we produce every fall in the State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. This will be the eighth year we’ve ranked states on their adoption of policies that encourage energy efficiency, and while some results are easy to predict, there are always a few surprises.