SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Advocating for “Duke’s Save-A-Watt” Program to Promote Energy Efficiency


Over the past several years, SACE has pressed utilities in the Southeast to establish and implement energy efficiency programs to help customers reduce their energy consumption. By reducing demand, utilities can meet customers’ needs at a fraction of the cost it takes to build and operate traditional power plants. We are very pleased that as of 2011, significant energy efficiency programs have been implemented by every major utility in the Southeast.

As a member of Duke’s Carolinas Energy Efficiency Collaborative, SACE Research Director John D. Wilson plays a key role in building larger and more cost-conscious energy efficiency programs. In this capacity, SACE and our allies reviewed and analyzed Duke Energy’s proposals to ensure that their
"Save-A-Watt" program would significantly reduce energy use at a fair cost to consumers.

In the summer of 2009, SACE and our allies announced an agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas to dramatically increase the size of Save-A-Watt. As a result, Duke’s targeted energy savings are projected to equal the annual output of an 845-megawatt (MW) power plant by the year 2020: that’s enough energy to power more than 120,000 homes. This commitment is nearly three times greater than the original Save-A-Watt proposal, and we expect Duke will be able to exceed these energy saving commitments. In its first full year, Duke achieved double its energy savings target through the program, at two-thirds of the anticipated cost.

Energy savings realized through Save-A-Watt will essentially create an “845 MW virtual power plant,” which will be the cleanest, safest, and most reliable energy resource ever deployed in the Carolinas. Save-A-Watt will create about 3,000 jobs by 2020. People in these new clean energy jobs will install home weatherization retrofits, new Energy Star appliances, and better lighting across the Carolinas. Energy savings from the program will also avert the production of approximately 4.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to their environmental and job-creation benefits, energy efficiency programs are also the most cost effective means of meeting demand. In its first full year of operation, Duke’s program costs 2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Assuming the average cost of electricity from new generation is 8 cents per kWh (which is lower than the 9-14 cents per kWh that many new nuclear and coal plants would cost), Save-A-Watt could save customers a cumulative $2 billion by 2020.

By working with the North Carolina Utilities Commission and Duke Energy to help bring a strong energy efficiency program to the Carolinas, SACE staff gained valuable insight that will influence our advocacy work as we challenge additional utilities to develop and strengthen their energy efficiency programs. Ultimately, our goal is for the Southeast to lead the nation in energy savings through energy efficiency programs like Save-A-Watt.