Driven by the growing number of energy-efficiency standards in states around the U.S., ratepayer budgets for efficiency programs climbed to record levels in 2011, to $6.8 billion. That’s a 25% increase over 2010 investments, putting the country on track to invest roughly $12 billion by 2020, according to a new report from the Institute for Electric Efficiency.
The figures for energy savings aren’t out for 2011. But the IEE report explains that efficiency efforts saved 112 terawatt-hours of electricity in 2010, which is about the same amount of energy used to power more than 9.7 million homes in the U.S. By comparison, the entire German solar-PV fleet generated 18.6 terawatt-hours in 2011 — roughly six fold less than American energy savings programs.
Those savings were achieved at an average cost of 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, making it one of the most competitive resources on the market.
Investments in the U.S. are overwhelmingly being driven by utilities that have requirements for increasing efficiency in their territories through state targets. There are now 26 states with targets in place, and most of them are hitting their goals. A recent report from the American Council on Energy Efficiency Economy found that of the 19 states with targets in place for more than 2 years, 13 have hit 100% of those targets.
And those efficiency investments are helping save ratepayers money. According to a recent analysis of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, funds raised through carbon auctions in the utility sector and deployed for efficiency and clean energy in the Northeastern U.S. will save ratepayers in the region $1.1 billion over the life of the program, and have already created 16,000 jobs.
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