Industry News




 

01/18/2013

Energy efficiency programs expanding across U.S.

 
Energy efficiency programs are expanding at a rapid rate.

Spending on energy efficiency programs funded by electric and natural gas utility customers will double by 2025 to about $9.5 billion per year, according to projections published today by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

These funds, which come from a charge on utility bills, historically constitute the nation's largest source of spending on programs to foster the adoption of more efficient products and buildings. According to the Berkeley Lab report, energy efficiency programs funded by utility customers are projected to continue expanding beyond the traditional bastions of energy efficiency in the Northeast and West.

By 2025, states in the Midwest and South could account for 49% of total U.S. spending on customer-funded energy efficiency programs, up from 27% in 2010. By 2025, only a handful of states would not have significant customer-funded efficiency programs.

The projected growth in program spending is driven by policies in a number of states requiring that utilities obtain all cost-effective energy efficiency savings. Another driver is energy efficiency resource standards, which require electric utilities to meet minimum energy savings goals each year.

"In addition, we see some utilities turning to energy efficiency as part of their strategy for reliable delivery of electricity as older coal-fired generators are retired," says staff scientist Charles A. Goldman, a co-author of the study and head of the laboratory's energy analysis and environmental impacts department.

For the analysis, the Berkeley Lab team developed low, medium, and high scenarios for program spending and savings, intended to reflect a range of potential outcomes under the current policy environment – that is, without considering possible major new policy developments. The analysis was based on a detailed review of all relevant state policies and legislation, regulatory filings and decisions, and utility integrated resource and demand-side management plans. The researchers refined the scenarios through extensive interviews with regional and national energy efficiency experts, efficiency program administrators, regulatory staff, and other industry actors.

Galen Barbose, the lead author of the report, explains that "this study is intended to provide a detailed, bottom-up analysis of state policies and to capture the market context in which programs operate."

Total U.S. spending on electric and gas efficiency programs (excluding load management programs) is projected to grow in all scenarios examined, ranging from $6.5 billion to $15.6 billion in 2025, with a mid-range projection of $9.5 billion under a scenario in which states are fairly successful in ramping up their programs to meet state energy-savings policies now on the books. This compares to total spending of $4.8 billion in 2010. As discussed within the report, the range in potential spending trajectories reflects a number of key challenges and significant uncertainties in market and policy drivers, including concerns about utility rate impacts from energy efficiency programs, the timing and pace of the economic recovery, the long-term trend in natural gas prices, and the impact of recent and possible future changes to federal and state minimum efficiency standards for appliances and building codes.

If states remain on their current policy paths, annual incremental savings from electric energy efficiency programs could be expected to reach about 0.8% of retail electricity sales in 2025, compared to about 0.5% of retail electricity sales in 2010.

Significantly, electricity savings at that level in 2025 could offset the majority of load growth forecasted through that year in the Energy Information Administration (EIA)'s most recent reference case forecast for electricity usage. This assumes that the EIA forecast correctly estimates savings from future customer-funded energy efficiency programs.

"So far, only a few very aggressive states have come close to offsetting growth in electricity needs through efficiency," Goldman says. "Our finding that, in aggregate, U.S. energy efficiency programs could offset a significant portion of projected load growth in the electricity sector over the next decade is subject to some uncertainties but striking nonetheless."

In the current policy and market environment, spending on gas energy efficiency programs is projected to continue its rise in the near term but flatten from 2015 onward, reflecting the influence of low natural gas prices and new state and federal equipment efficiency standards.

 

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Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
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04/16/2014

The U.S. Army plans to start development of a solar array that will provide about 25% of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

04/15/2014

The EPA's annual greenhouse gas emissions report is now available.

04/14/2014

Are you what some would call a “climate-change denier”? If so, you'll want to read this.

04/10/2014
Los Angeles has remained the top city for ENERGY STAR certified building since 2008, while Washington, D.C. continues to hold onto second place for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new list released by the EPA.
04/09/2014
Green construction has grown massively over a short period of time.
04/07/2014
Field demonstrations of newly proven energy-efficient technologies are yielding valuable results for the U.S. Navy, helping it meet energy goals.
04/03/2014
Building owners in Chicago now have more options when it comes to getting their building energy data verified.
04/01/2014
According to a new report from Eaton, such outages are up 15% in 2013 over 2012 and over half of those surveyed believe that downtime could have been prevented.
03/31/2014
The newly revised ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 105-2014, Standard Methods of Determining, Expressing, and Comparing Building Energy Performance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, aims to provide a consistent method of measuring, expressing, and comparing the energy performance of buildings.
03/27/2014
Facility managers face an every expanding array of sustainability choices and challenges, but for the next generation of FMs, green practices could be second nature as sustainability literacy enters the K-12 school system.
03/25/2014
While the economic recession explains the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to fall.
03/24/2014
University of Washington (UW) scientists have built the thinnest known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics.
03/21/2014
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2378 into law, effectively enacting the state’s first building code.
03/19/2014
In an attempt to improve building energy performance, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a web-based tool called the Technology Performance Exchange, or TPEx.
03/18/2014
Could green building practices pose unanticipated life-safety hazards?
03/13/2014
Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.
03/11/2014
Through the DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program, every dollar the DOE has spent on building energy codes over the past two decades has resulted in $400 in energy cost savings.
03/07/2014
It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space, according to new research from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
03/05/2014
Is your building prepared to handle an emergency?
03/04/2014
NASCAR revealed five newly installed charging stations for employee use.
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