SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Utility energy efficiency programs: Georgia
In Georgia, consumers buy electricity from Georgia Power Co. (GPC), one of the 41 electric membership corporations (EMCs) or one of the 52 municipally owned electric systems in Georgia. The Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) regulates GPC and has limited control over the EMCs and municipal utilities.
The EMCs and municipal utilities offer some energy efficiency programs, but they are fairly limited. A bright spot is the collection of on-bill financing programs offered in partnership with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority by 24 EMCs and three municipally owned electric utilities.
In 2010, the GPSC required GPC to offer energy efficiency programs. The company has generally been meeting its annual energy savings goals, though certain programs have performed better or worse than expected. In 2011, the first year of program implementation, GPC saved 130 GigaWatt-hours (GWh), or about 0.15% of their electricity sales, with its certified demand-side management programs. In 2012, GPC saved 217 GWh, more than its goal of 203 GWh. In 2013, the company achieved 99% of its goal, with 320 GWh in savings. GPC again exceeded its annual target in 2014, with 352 GWh, representing 109% of the goal and 0.43% of sales.
From 2010-2012, SACE was engaged in GPC’s Demand-Side Management Working Group (DSMWG) to work with the company on developing the energy efficiency inputs for the company’s 2013 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). GPC filed its 2013 IRP and Demand-Side Management plan in January 2013, and, as we have in the past, SACE intervened in both proceedings and advocated for efficient and clean energy solutions. The Commission issued an order on the 2013 IRP and Demand-Side Management plan in July 2013, and the company expects to save about 350 GWh of energy efficiency each year. This equates to approximately 0.4% of retail sales each year.
SACE is currently engaged in the DSMWG once again, providing input on the inclusion of energy efficiency in GPC’s 2016 IRP, which represents a big opportunity for the company to establish a plan to achieve cost-effective energy savings that are more in line with leading utilities in the Southeast and across the country.
Across the country, 11 states achieved annual savings of 1% or more of energy sales in 2013. Entergy Arkansas stands out as a leader in the Southeast, with energy savings representing 1.14% of sales in 2014. Georgia utilities – including the EMCs, municipally owned electric systems and GPC – could join the leaders if they began to evaluate energy efficiency as a resource on an equal footing with generation. With such efforts, the utilities could retire existing coal power plants, and cancel plans to build unnecessary power plants.