by Matthias Bell, RMI, and Dylan Sullivan of NRDC, cross-posted from the Rocky Mountain Institute
This is part one in a three part series published at RMI on turbocharging energy efficiency programs.
The utilities in Ohio will tell you that they’re nothing like the energy efficiency leaders in California, Oregon, Vermont, or Massachusetts. Their systems are different and so are the regulations they must follow. But none of that has prevented them from investing in energy efficiency with their customers.
In 2008, recognizing that energy efficiency is the cheapest way to meet energy needs, Ohio’s Legislature passed a law that requires electric utilities to help their customers save energy. Since then, American Electric Power, Duke Energy, and Dayton Power and Light have stepped up those efforts and saved almost twice the amount of energy required by law (.3% and .5% of load in 2009 and 2010, respectively). AEP went from saving almost no energy in 2005 to saving a cumulative 554,000 MWh from its 2009 and 2010 energy efficiency programs, enough energy to power 55,000 Ohio homes for one year.
Utilities in Ohio aren’t the only ones making these changes. They’re part of a national trend. From 2007 to 2010, electric utility efficiency program budgets have gone from $2.7 billion to $5.4 billion. In other words, utilities have doubled the amount they are spending on efficiency in just the past three years. These numbers will only continue to rise. By 2020, program budgets are expected to reach $10.9 billion.