Could TVA achieve 1% Energy Efficiency?

Guest Blog | October 30, 2012 | Energy Efficiency
Last week, I shared some thoughts on what a 1% energy efficiency goal could mean for the Southeast with some folks involved in the Tennessee Healthy Energy Campaign. My presentation was focused on how the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and its distributors are doing with their energy efficiency goals, what a 1% energy efficiency goal is — why it is important and how many gigawatt-hours (GWh) of efficiency it actually is — and how to move forward in the Southeast to ensure that we continue to capture increasing amounts of energy efficiency.

What does a 1% efficiency goal mean exactly?

A lot of energy efficiency advocates talk about reaching a 1 % (or in more progressive areas, 2-3%) energy efficiency goal. While this goal may be totally clear to those of us steeped in energy efficiency all day, everyday, it may not be as clear to someone who somehow finds other things to do with their time! A 1% energy efficiency goal is achieved when utilities (or other efficiency providers) capture enough energy efficiency to equal 1% of their annual energy sales.

Let’s break that down a bit, using TVA as an example …

In fiscal year 2010, TVA’s electric sales were 147,421 GWh. If TVA and its distributors wanted to achieve a 1% energy efficiency goal in 2011, it would need to save 1% of the 147, 421 GWh. This is 1,474 GWh. In fiscal year 2011, TVA and its distributors achieved 426 GWh of energy efficiency, so they fell quite a bit short of 1%.

To calculate what the percentage of sales utilities actually achieve we look at this equation.

Applying this equation to TVA’s 2010 electric sales numbers and 2011 energy efficiency numbers shows that TVA and its distributors saved 0.29% of their electric sales in 2011. This puts TVA and its distributors about in the middle of the pack in the Southeast, as I blogged about earlier this year.

So how can a utility, like TVA, get to 1% energy efficiency?

TVA’s own energy efficiency potential report found that it 1% a year energy efficiency savings is achievable. However, given that TVA and its distribution utilities are only achieving one third of that goal today, and the highest efficiency projection in their integrated resource planning process will only get TVA and the distributors to 0.8% energy efficiency in 2020, additional effort will be required to get to 1%.

Additional programs and more aggressive implementation will be required, but there are plenty of best practices around the country that can be leveraged. For example, distributors could offer residential programs that target building envelope, heating and air conditioning efficiency, appliance recycling, and plug loads. Policy changes would give an extra boost to energy efficiency in TVA’s service territory as well. In the Northwest, Bonneville Power Administration (another federally owned utility) long ago recognized that energy efficiency was a top priority in meeting its power needs.These are just a few ideas that TVA and the distributors could use to increase the amount of energy efficiency they are capturing. As we have discussed before, there are  other opportunities to bring more efficiency to the TVA system.

Finally, not all of the solutions to get more efficiency in the TVA region have to come from TVA or its distributers – you can help too!  One of the Tennessee Healthy Energy Campaign‘s 2012 goals is to engage consumers on encouraging TVA, and its distributors to adopt a 1% energy efficiency target. Or, if you want to start at home, get a home energy audit and develop a plan to install the efficiency measures – every kilowatt-hour we save counts towards 1%!

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