Efficiency as an Energy Resource

The State Journal’s Grounded blog is making an invaluable contribution to energy discussions in WV.  Grounded’s Pam Kasey posted an excellent piece last week on how investment in efficiency is vital to resolving AEP’s and FirstEnergy’s self-proclaimed capacity problems.

The story points to the fact that AEP and FirstEnergy exploiting WV by dumping unsaleable power plants on WV rate payers.  But Kasey goes beyond that to cite recent research to show that AEP and FirstEnergy are actively suppressing real investment in energy efficiency for their customers.

“When examining studies of the potential for reducing energy waste and the accomplishments of leading states in the Mid-Atlantic, it is clear that FirstEnergy and ApCo should be achieving far more cost-effective energy savings than they are currently planning in West Virginia,” reads the report prepared by Optimal Energy for the Sierra Club.

From 2013 to 2016, the utilities propose to save ratepayers 413,000 megawatt-hours through efficiency measures, according to the report, but the authors find that three times that, or 1.4 million MWh, is achievable.

The utilities are doing more to save energy in other states, Van Nostrand said.

Mon Power proposes in its filing to reduce demand by 3.3 percent by 2022, and attributes that goal to what is considered “realistically achievable” in a 2009 Electric Power Research Institute study.

But, Van Nostrand said, AEP companies are doing far more in other states.

An AEP filing in Virginia acknowledges that demand-side resources likely will play a significant role in satisfying capacity and energy requirements in the future, saying “they arethe least-cost resource, even in significant amounts,” he quoted.

Virginia has a voluntary 10 percent energy efficiency target by 2020, he said. Michigan’s mandated target is more than 10 percent by 2020, and Indiana’s is 13.9 percent. And in Ohio, where both AEP and FirstEnergy are headquartered, utilities have to put in place efficiency measures equal to more than 20 percent of energy supplied by 2025.

I recently had a conversation with a power company lobbyist in the State Capitol.  When I pointed out to him that his company lives with legally mandated energy efficiency standards in two other states, he responded by saying, “And we wish they were like WV.” By which he meant that he wished Ohio and Pennsylvania had no standard, as is the situation in our state.  So, once again, it all comes down to power and leadership.  As long as WV politicians fail to lead, WV rate payers will not be able to reap the real benefits of investment in energy efficiency and our electric rates will continue to spiral upward.

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