New England energy efficiency grows, saves

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Energy efficiency in New England has saved consumers significant money in recent years, and is changing the energy landscape in the northeastern U.S.  At a briefing yesterday, the region's electric grid operator announced that continued investment in electric energy efficiency has changed its load projections from modest growth to a flat forecast through 2021. 

ISO New England manages the energy markets and transmission grid in the six New England states.  ISO New England plans for future electricity needs, and develops forecasts for electricity consumption for the next decade.  In recent years, the adoption of energy efficiency measures has reduced society's demand for electricity.  From 2008 to 2011 New England spent $1.2 billion on energy efficiency through programs like Efficiency Maine and Mass Save.  ISO New England said that it expects spending on energy efficiency is expected to increase to $5.7 billion from 2015 to 2021.  As a result, electricity use previously projected to rise by 0.9 percent annually between 2012 and 2021 will instead be flat.

Customers win through energy efficiency in several ways.  Direct savings include the money they would have spent on electricity but for their efficiency increases.  The overall wholesale price of energy and capacity can also be reduced through greater adoption of energy efficiency.  Efficiency can also eliminate the need for some transmission upgrades; according to ISO New England, 10 transmission upgrades that earlier studies showed were needed to ensure reliability can be deferred until after 2020, saving consumers an estimated $260 million more.

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