Fast Help for Soaring Gas Prices: Profiles of America's Best Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Programs

December 9, 2003

Media Contact(s):

Dan York, 608-243-1123 , Utilities, State, and Local Policy Program Fellow

Washington, D.C. — In the midst of a growing natural gas crisis, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) today released Responding to the Natural Gas Crisis: America's Best Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Programs, which profiles over 30 examples of outstanding natural gas energy efficiency programs from around the nation. Dr. Martin Kushler, Director of the ACEEE Utilities Program and manager of the research project that identified the programs, stated that "states and utilities trying to respond to soaring natural gas costs can draw on the proven success of the nation's best energy efficiency programs." He added, "We also want policymakers and utility resource planners to know that help is just a mouse-click away. We've posted descriptions of these outstanding programs on our web site for free access." (See http://aceee.org/pubs/u035.htm.)

This year's expanding gas crisis has highlighted the need for energy efficiency. "Any time the Secretary of Energy, the National Petroleum Council, and the Federal Reserve Chairman agree with ACEEE that energy efficiency is the best policy response we can take in the near future, you know we have a broad-based consensus for energy efficiency," said Steven Nadel, ACEEE's Executive Director. "The report we're releasing today provides concrete examples for moving from conceptual agreement to direct action."

The economic benefits of using energy efficiency as a prime response to the gas crisis are enormous. In addition to helping individual customers cope with natural gas prices that have nearly doubled over the past two years, energy efficiency can save jobs that are being lost to high gas costs and boost the economic recovery. To document these benefits, another recent ACEEE study demonstrates that energy efficiency and the strategic use of renewable energy could reduce wholesale market natural gas costs in the near future by 10 to 20%, saving consumers in excess of $100 billion in costs over five years (see http://aceee.org/energy/efnatgas-study.htm). This study also found that electric efficiency was as important as natural gas efficiency in reducing prices, and an earlier ACEEE analysis authored by Dr. Kushler documents exemplary electric efficiency programs (see http://aceee.org/press/u032pr.htm). These analyses create a compelling rationale for the kind of policy action these exemplary programs represent.

The programs profiled in America's Best Natural Gas Energy Efficiency Programs cover a dozen different program categories, ranging from low-income residential programs to industrial "custom" efficiency programs. There are examples of practical, successful natural gas energy efficiency programs for all customer sectors and all major natural gas end-uses. "It is our hope that this data set will provide states or utilities that are interested in implementing natural gas energy efficiency programs with the information they need to design and deliver highly effective programs," stated Dr. Kushler.

In addition to providing information, however, ACEEE would also like to salute the utilities and states that administer the exemplary programs selected in this project. While too numerous to list here, these organizations are all identified in the profiles on ACEEE's Web site and in the final report. Executive Director Nadel concluded, "These organizations have done an excellent job in designing and delivering these outstanding programs, and others can benefit greatly by learning from their experience."

The full text of Responding to the Natural Gas Crisis, as well as individual profiles of the "best programs," can be downloaded for free at http://aceee.org/pubs/u035.htm. ACEEE would like to thank the organizations that helped fund this research project. They include: the Energy Foundation; Energy Trust of Oregon; GasNetworks; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; Northwest Natural Gas Company; Oregon Energy Office; Xcel Energy and the Xcel CIP Advisory Group; and Wisconsin Public Service Corporation.

For further information, contact ACEEE Publications, 529 14th Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, phone: 202-507-4000, fax: 202-429-2248, e-mail: aceee_publications@aceee.org.