Using less energy is good news all around. Using less energy efficiency to meet growing energy demand is bad news all around. We’re sorry to say, it’s the latter that we are reporting today.
According to Rocky Mountain Power’s latest energy efficiency annual report for 2019, the utility continues to scale back the amount of electricity it saved through its energy efficiency programs. The utility recently filed its Demand-Side Management 2019 Annual Energy Efficiency and Peak Load Reduction Report, which reports how much energy efficiency was achieved through the ratepayer-funded incentive programs in 2019. The report shows that last year Rocky Mountain Power scaled back energy efficiency by 10% compared to the company’s own target.
Specifically, Utah families, businesses, and industrial companies saved 272,385 MWh of electricity in 2019 through energy efficiency programs. While this may seem like an impressive amount of electricity savings, it is actually a continuing decline in electricity savings. In fact, we haven’t seen this low of energy efficiency savings since 2014. By comparison, in 2017 (the peak year for electricity savings for Rocky Mountain Power) the utility helped its customers save 372,945 MWh of electricity by stimulating the adoption of more efficient lights, appliances, air conditioning systems, industrial equipment and the like.
A Missed Opportunity to Reduce Pollution and Save Money
Scaling back cost-effective energy efficiency programs means unnecessary energy waste, higher utility bills for households and businesses in Utah, and increased consumption of power from polluting power plants. Furthermore, these energy efficiency programs are cost-effective, cutting $2.11 in utility costs for every $1 invested in energy efficiency incentive programs. Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective, readily available resources available to us. Cutting back on energy efficiency at a time when Utah’s population continues to grow, and energy needs continue to expand, is a step in the wrong direction. At a time when more Utahns are interested in the strategic electrification of building end-uses and transportation, utility energy efficiency savings continues to be an important strategy to moderate overall consumption and demand for electricity in Utah.