NEW YORK - Eight U.S. utilities that collectively serve nearly 20 million customers in 22 states have committed to pursue a 50 percent increase in their energy efficiency investments and to form a new institute to support energy efficiency efforts.
The eight utilities - Consolidated Edison Co. of New York, Duke Energy, Edison International, Great Plains Energy, Pepco Holdings, PNM Resources, Sierra Pacific Resources, and Xcel Energy - are committed to seeking regulatory reforms and approvals within the next 10 years to increase their investment in energy efficiency by $500 million annually, to about $1.5 billion annually. This increased level of investment in energy efficiency is expected to not only reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 30 million tons, but also avoid the need for 50 500-megawatt peaking power plants.
The eight utilities also committed to the creation of a national institute for electric efficiency, which will develop regulatory models and convene energy efficiency conferences for utilities. The institute will be a part of the Edison Electric Institute, which represents the nation’s investor-owned electric utilities, and will be open to both U.S. and international parties that share its commitment to energy efficiency. The utilities made the commitment as part of the Clinton Climate Initiative.
One reason for utilities to commit to energy efficiency, other than the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, is that a number of states are setting energy efficiency targets. A report issued by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that 15 states now have Energy Efficiency Resource Standards in place today, compared with only five states two years ago. The report estimates that the standards now in place could reduce national electricity demand by more than 1 percent per year by 2013.