Rocky Mountain Power Should Boost Ratepayer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs

Rocky Mountain Power Should Boost Ratepayer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs
10 September 2019

This summer, Utah Clean Energy’s Energy Efficiency Program Director, Kevin Emerson and Howard Geller, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project published an op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune. Their op-ed sounded an alarm about recent declines in Rocky Mountain Power’s successful energy-saving programs:

“Unfortunately, Rocky Mountain Power scaled back its cost-effective energy efficiency programs starting in 2018. Fewer customers participated and the energy savings achieved as a result of the utility’s programs declined by 24 percent between 2017 and 2018. And energy savings could continue to decline in 2019.”

 Read the whole piece.

What’s the big deal with energy efficiency?

  • Energy efficiency is a vital energy strategy for Utah’s residents and businesses.
  • By reducing demand for polluting electricity, we protect public health and make it easier to transition to clean, renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal, to power our lives.
  • Energy efficiency is also one of the most affordable energy investments we can make! Coal-fired power plants on Rocky Mountain Power’s system can cost up to 5 cents for every kilowatt-hour generated[1], whereas energy efficiency costs half that amount at 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour saved[2]!
  • Cutting energy waste through efficiency reduces energy bills for Utah families and businesses, helping to keep money in the local economy.
  • Energy efficiency doesn’t just cut pollution and save money, it also supports over 30,000 jobs here in Utah!

Who pays for this program?

  • Energy efficiency is the most affordable way to meet energy demand and, therefore, utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs, like Rocky Mountain Power’s Wattsmart program, are funded by utility customers.
  • Every individual, household, and business paying a power bill invests in the Wattsmart energy efficiency program.

What’s currently happening? Two things:

First, in its 2018 Annual Energy Efficiency and Peak Load Reduction Report, Rocky Mountain Power reported that it cut back its successful energy efficiency programs as compared to previous years. Specifically, in 2018:

  • Energy savings dropped by a staggering 24 percent as compared to 2017.
  • The number of businesses participating in the efficiency program dropped by over 3,000 as compared to 2017.

Meanwhile, utilities in Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada are expanding their energy efficiency targets and programs to the benefit of their customers! Utah Clean Energy is concerned about these cuts and filed comments with the Utah Public Service Commission. You can read our comments—submitted jointly with the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project—here.

Second, now through the end of 2020, Rocky Mountain Power is expected to have about $8 million of un-spent efficiency funding that should be invested to achieve additional energy-saving for Utah schools, families, and businesses to help cut energy use and power bills.

On behalf of its customers, Rocky Mountain Power should be expanding their energy efficiency investment, not rolling back savings!

What can we do about it?

Lend your voice to support the Wattsmart energy-saving program. Tell Rocky Mountain Power that you want them to increase energy savings through its successful Wattsmart program, rather than rolling back savings!

  • Tell @RockyMountainPower that you support increasing energy savings through Wattsmart! Use the social media hashtag #WattsmartWorks
  • Write a letter to the editor in response to the June 18 op-ed that was published in The Salt Lake Tribune
  • Consider the facts below as you make your voice heard!

Facts about Rocky Mountain Power’s Successful Energy Efficiency Programs

  • Since 2001, Rocky Mountain Power has collected funding from its customers to implement successful energy efficiency programs.
  • These programs have saved over $1.1 billion in electricity costs for ratepayers and the utility.
  • Every $1 invested in efficiency saves over $1.70 in electricity costs.
  • From the utility’s point of view, helping their customers save energy through Wattsmart incentives cost only 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour saved. This makes efficiency one of the cheapest energy investments!
  • More efficient lighting and daylighting not only saves money but has been shown to improve worker productivity and student academic performance.
  • Energy efficiency also helps people stay more comfortable in their homes, money in the local economy, and supports the estimated 30,000 Utahns employed in the energy efficiency sector.
  • And, unlike other energy investments, efficiency keeps providing savings for decades – as long as the energy efficient product (window, insulation, efficiency cooling system, etc.) lasts!

 

[1] Energy Strategies, PacifiCorp Coal Unit Valuation Study (2018) page 6

[2] Rocky Mountain Power, Demand-Side Management 2018 Annual Energy Efficiency and Peak Load Reduction Report (2019) Table 5, page 3 of Appendix 2 (page 49 of PDF)