Charleston, W.Va. - Legislation introduced today would establish a WV Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) that sets out long-term energy efficiency targets for electric utilities. The legislation is designed to spur investment in energy efficiency and keep rates lower over the long term. The bill sets targets for electric utilities to reduce electricity consumption by 5 percent of 2010 levels by 2018 and a goal of 15 percent reductions by 2025. Financial incentives would be provided to utilities that meet or exceed their targets.
“With utility rates expected to rise dramatically in the coming years we need to work on legislation to improve efficiency. Energy Efficiency would help save all West Virginia rate payers money over the long run. We have been to short sighted for too long . Its time we look to the future and implement real cost saving policies in West Virginia. This legislation would do just that, as well as create more jobs,” said Delegate Manypenny (D-Taylor), lead sponsor of the legislation.
As of October 2011, twenty-four states have established an energy efficiency resource standard, according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and most states are on track to meet their energy savings goals.
Recent reports of progress towards meeting energy savings targets in Ohio and Pennsylvania indicate significant financial savings and job creation. A recent analysis of Pennsylvania's energy efficiency resource standard found that investments in the first two years created 4,000 jobs and will lead to $2.3 billion in savings over the lifetime of the efficiency measures (for a cost of $281 million). In Ohio, a 2010 report from Policy Matters Ohio projected that 1700 jobs would be created from the investments in energy efficiency during 2010 and 2011.
Under the proposal, utilities would meet the energy savings targets by offering voluntary programs to residential, commercial and industrial customers. This could include offering rebates for more efficient lighting and appliances, offering incentives for weatherization, providing industrial energy assessments, and other programs. West Virginia's utilities are subsidiaries of larger parent companies that also operate in nearby states; Appalachian and Wheeling Power and subsidiaries of American Electric Power and Mon Power and Potomac Edison are subsidiaries of FirstEnergy. AEP's Ohio subsidiaries exceeded their initial savings targets for the first two years of Ohio's energy efficiency resource standard, and all but one FirstEnergy subsidiary in Pennsylvania achieved their target for the first two years of programs.
“This proposal will bring our state into line with our neighbors who are already providing the savings to utility customers that efficiency standards provide. At the same time the new employment generated by upgrades to old, inefficient appliances and heating & cooling systems will boost our economy. This is truly a win-win situation,” commented Gary Zuckett, Exec. Dir. of WV Citizen Action which is a member group of the Energy Efficient West Virginia coalition.
Significant potential exists for saving money through energy efficiency in West Virginia. West Virginia households consume about 25% more electricity than the U.S. average, and West Virginia was recently ranked 44th in the nation on energy efficiency. Appalachian Power began offering a energy efficiency program in March 2011 that includes a home energy audit for residential customers, and Mon Power and Potomac Edison will begin offering a more limited program in February 2012. The proposed energy efficiency resource standard would accelerate the achievement of energy savings goals by these utilities.