ACEEE says more, More, MORE energy efficiency

This blog was written by John D. Wilson, former Deputy Director for Regulatory Policy at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Guest Blog | March 18, 2010 | Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Nuclear, Utilities
Vice President Biden visits efficient LED light manufacturer Cree
Vice President Biden visits efficient LED light manufacturer Cree

“Energy efficiency can create 38,000 new jobs for North Carolinians while saving consumers $3.6 billion in energy bills, and meet one quarter of NC’s energy needs,” according to a new report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).  More jobs, lower energy bills … and hundreds of million dollars in stronger economic growth.

If energy and money don’t interest you, how about water? These policies will help utilities avoid withdrawing about 3 billion gallons of water a day by 2025 – that could make a big difference in the next drought and give our over-used watersheds a break!

The jobs point was coincidentally underscored by Vice President Biden’s visit to Cree, a manufacturer of LED lighting products based in Durham, NC. According to the News & Observer, “The company has hired 375 workers in the past year.”

It was a timely release, rebutting the claims by North Carolina utilities that there is only so little they can do in the long term to help North Carolina electricity customers save energy. In contrast to the 3.1% energy savings forecast by North Carolina utilities in their 15-year resource plans, ACEEE suggests that they could achieve 15 or even more than 20% with aggressive energy efficiency programs. Add in several additional government policy and program recommendations, and the electricity savings add up to 24-33% over the next 15 years!

Annual Energy Savings in 2025 from ACEEE Recommended Policies

Recommended Policy Medium Case High Case
Energy Efficiency Resource Standard 13.0% 16.0%
Behavioral Initiative 1.0% 1.4%
Combined Heat & Power 0.9% 4.0%
Demand Response (provides other energy benefits) n/a n/a
Utility Subtotal 14.9% 21.4%
Building Energy Codes 2.8% 3.4%
Federal Appliance Standards 2.0% 2.0%
Advanced New Buildings Initiative 1.1% 2.2%
Public Facilities Performance Contracting 1.8% 2.2%
Manufactured Homes Initiative 1.0% 1.5%
Customer Financing for Energy Efficiency n/a n/a
Water Efficiency 0.1% 0.1%
Government Subtotal 6.8% 9.4%
Total 23.7% 32.8%

North Carolina is a rapidly growing state and we are poised to advance economically and aggressively harness energy efficiency.  North Carolina is currently 26th in the nation compared to other states on energy efficiency, so we have a lot of room to grow.

The Governor’s Energy Policy Council and the NC Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change are well-positioned to seize these opportunities, as they are each actively developing energy recommendations for the Governor and the General Assembly this spring. ACEEE emphasized the importance of splitting apart North Carolina’s existing Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standard to establish a stand-alone Energy Efficiency Resource Standard to ensure that utilities aggressively pursue the benefits of energy efficiency on behalf of their customers.

After reviewing the final results from ACEEE, I realize my testimony yesterday wasn’t quite as bold as I thought. I suggested that North Carolina utilities could achieve 15% energy savings by 2024 – but ACEEE suggests they could go quite a bit further. Well, we’re pleased to have these new data further supporting our claims and hopes for NC to be bold in harnessing the cleanest of all power sources – the energy that is never used or created in the first place.

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