Xcel Energy, a Colorado utility, has been asking the state’s Public Utilities Commission to scale back on their energy efficiency goals. The utility has been arguing that efficiency programs will be more costly now that many of the easy projects have been completed. Even if the initiatives will have to find hard-to-reach savings going forward, there is still potential to go deeper and still be less costly than building new power plants. Claire Levy, former Colorado State Representative, agrees that the utility’s efficiency goals should grow. She notes that these programs help low-income families as well as bolstering economic development goals. Xcel Energy might need to take some pointers from last week’s AESP Conference on how efficiency programs can go beyond the low-hanging fruit.
PUC should stick to goals on energy efficiency in ColoradoThe Denver Post, May 16, 2014
Seven years ago, as a Colorado state representative, I introduced legislation directing the Public Utilities Commission to establish electric energy savings goals for our investor-owned utilities, Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy.
Legislators craft policy with the best information available and hope that it will have the intended effect. But it’s not until after we have had the benefit of time and a historical lens that we can truly judge its effectiveness. Today, it is clear that this policy has been an enormous success.
From 2009 to 2013, Xcel offered energy-efficiency programs that will save customers more than $800 million on utility bills, with a greater than 200 percent return on the utility’s investment. These efficiency programs have consistently come in over goal and under budget.