Utah Clean Energy negotiates and intervenes on a myriad of issues with Rocky Mountain Power. While we often disagree, one topic we have historically been in lock-step was energy efficiency investments. That is, until recently.
You may ask why a utility would want to invest in helping its customers reduce their bills. The answer is simple; energy efficiency saves utilities and utility customers money! It's cheaper to help Utahns save energy than it is to provide new energy. By increasing the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings, it’s easy to get more for less: more productivity, less wastefulness; more comfort, less compromise; more profit, less pollution. Oh, and lots of local jobs!
Over 60% of Rocky Mountain Power's electricity generation comes from burning coal and the first step to transition to a clean energy future is to reduce the amount of energy that is wasted. In fact, according to a recent international report increasing global energy efficiency is a central strategy to combat climate change. Reducing electricity consumption makes it easier - and cheaper - to supply our lower demand for electricity with clean, renewable energy. Energy efficiency is a win-win for everybody. Which is why we’re perplexed by Rocky Mountain Power’s plans to use less and less energy efficiency to meet energy demand.
A report recently filed with the Utah Public Service Commission (Docket No. 18-035-27) shows that Rocky Mountain Power is proposing to reduce the level of energy saved in Utah by 20% in 2019 compared to savings achieved in 2017. Specifically, the utility is planning for just 299 million kWh of annual energy savings through its 2019 Wattsmart efficiency programs. By comparison, in 2017 Rocky Mountain Power helped its customers save 373 million kWh of electricity annually through utility programs that stimulated the adoption of more efficient lights, appliances, air conditioning systems, industrial equipment and the like. These energy efficiency programs are cost effective, cutting $2.23 in utility costs for every $1 invested in energy efficiency incentive programs. The amount of electricity saved in 2017 alone resulted in $140 million net savings for the utility and its customers.
Since 2001 Rocky Mountain Power’s successful energy efficiency programs have helped Utahns save over 3.4 billion kWh of electricity per year, which is enough electricity to power nearly 373,000 average Utah homes.This proposal will translate to cuts to energy-saving incentive programs for residents and businesses that rely on robust efficiency incentives to help implement energy efficiency improvements.
What’s more troubling is that this appears to be a trend that Rocky Mountain Power is forecasting, despite Utah’s projected population doubling over the next couple of decades. In its most recent 20-year plan the utility projects that in the year 2034 it will save less electricity than it saved in 2008.
Utah Clean Energy and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project encourage interested residents and businesses to submit comments to the Utah Public Service Commision () supporting higher levels of electricity savings through Docket No. 18-035-27 and to tell Rocky Mountain Power directly that they support more electricity savings, not less. Contact Kevin Emerson to learn more.