Utilities have options when it comes to meeting customer demand for electricity. They can build power plants to convert fossil fuels to energy. They can capture renewable resources like solar and wind. And they can work with residents and businesses to lower demand by implementing energy efficiency programs.
Energy efficiency improvements provide value over and above utility bill savings. ACEEE’s new report Recognizing the Value of Energy Efficiency’s Multiple Benefits describes the gains outside of energy savings created by energy efficiency improvements. Many of these benefits accrue to residential and business energy consumers. Additional benefits accrue in the form of cost reductions to the utility system, resulting in lower costs for all customers.
California has long been an energy efficiency leader, topping ACEEE’s State Energy Efficiency Scorecard from 2006–2010 and ranking #2 since then. But like many states, California would much prefer to be #1 and has been upping its game, achieving a “most improved” grade in our 2015 Scorecard and trailing the #1 state by only half a point.
Today, Commonwealth Edison, several smart thermostat manufacturers, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center announced a major new initiative with a target to install one million smart thermostats in the homes of Commonwealth Edison customers over five years. Commonwealth Edison (commonly called ComEd) serves northern Illinois, including the Chicago metropolitan area.
On Wednesday, a group of Ohio policymakers released their recommendations to indefinitely freeze the state's clean energy and energy efficiency targets. Their misinformed recommendations, if implemented, would once again deliver a major setback to Ohio energy bill payers and the state's clean energy economy.
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.)
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.
Baseball’s All-Star Game assembles teams of the best athletes to face off against each other and play at an extraordinary level, beyond what is possible during the regular season. Natural gas and electric utilities design and build dual-fuel energy efficiency programs that score added energy savings and cut costs beyond what they could have achieved on their own. While the All-Star Game happens just once each year, combined gas and electric energy efficiency programs are performing at levels beyond the ordinary on an ongoing basis.