Energy Efficiency Programs
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.
The past year included many successes, including quite a few that we can build on in the new year. Among the notable developments in 2015:
This holiday season, New Orleans residents have cause for celebration as they receive an unexpected holiday gift: a new focus on energy efficiency savings.
Cities are responsible for the majority of energy consumption, and local governments can play a critical role in addressing energy and environmental challenges. So, cities have a real opportunity to lead by pushing for ambitious policies to reduce energy waste in their own backyard. New Orleans’ city council did just that with some recent legislation.
The 2015 City Scorecard ranks 51 large US cities across five policy areas on their policies and efforts to save energy. Its focus on policies and other initiatives is meant to identify and highlight important actions cities can take to become more efficient. In the process, it offers the beginnings of an efficiency roadmap for any city that wants to save more energy.
Independent Reports Reach Same Conclusions on the Future of Energy Efficiency Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification
Washington, DC—ACEEE and Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) released new reports today that analyze the current and future impacts of information and communications technologies (ICT) on evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) practices. EM&V demonstrates the value of energy efficiency programs by providing accurate, transparent, and consistent assessments of their performance.
In the past year, a growing number of papers from economists have questioned the effectiveness of energy efficiency programs and policies. We have reviewed many of these studies and blogged about several of them (see here, here, here and here).
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.