Energy Efficiency Saves Money, Boosts Economy

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New report shows EmPOWER Maryland programs have benefited businesses and ratepayers

Baltimore – Energy efficiency investments save Maryland ratepayers $60 million on electricity costs annually and have boosted job creation. These findings come from a new report tracking Maryland’s progress towards statewide energy efficiency goals, released today by Maryland PIRG, the statewide consumer group.

According to the report, “A Smart Solution: EmPOWER is Saving Energy, Saving Money, and Boosting our Economy,” energy efficiency incentives offered through utilities and the state government have helped consumers lower their bills, saved ratepayers money by avoiding the need for costly transmission and generation projects, and helped businesses expand.

“These programs are working and Marylanders are seeing the benefits,” said Maryland PIRG Associate Carly Mercer. “Unfortunately we’re not even halfway to our goal- think about the energy savings and job creation we’d be seeing if we were on track.”

The General Assembly passed the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act in 2008, setting a statewide goal of reducing per capita electricity consumption 15% by 2015. Two-thirds of those savings must come from utility companies, which are regulated by the Public Service Commission. The utilities are falling behind on this goal- if they continue at their current pace they will only achieve 46% of their goals for electricity savings.

Although utilities and the Public Service Commission need to do more, businesses and consumers have already seen major benefits from programs currently in place.

“Maryland’s energy efficiency programs provided Hawkeye Construction an opportunity to retrain and double our workforce,” said Andrew Todtz, president of Hawkeye Construction, located in Baltimore. “We invested more than a million dollars in local training programs and new equipment, extending the positive economic impact of these programs throughout Maryland.”

Ensuring the success of these programs and meeting our EmPOWER goals is critical to moving Maryland forward:

  • Proposals to build two new high-voltage transmission lines into Maryland have been scrapped in the past year because electricity demand dropped enough that the new power lines are not needed
  • On the hottest day of the summer 2011 heat wave, energy efficiency helped reduce electricity consumption by BGE customers, ensuring that the region didn’t experience blackouts. Had Maryland constructed a new natural gas-fired power plant to meet that energy demand instead, it would have cost $946 million.
  • An estimated 29 year-long jobs are created for every $1 million invested in energy efficiency, meaning that the $100 million that Maryland’s electric utilities and customers invested in energy efficiency as of September 2010 has created 2,920 jobs.

In order to maximize the positive effects energy efficiency can have on our economy, the PSC must hold utilities accountable for meeting their timelines and approve better and broader programs. To better facilitate these programs, the state should restore funding for energy efficiency projects and coordinate programs statewide.

“Energy efficiency programs put $60 million back in Marylanders’ wallets in 2010, and are giving our job market a needed boost,” said Mercer. “This is only the beginning of the benefits we’ll see by prioritizing energy efficiency, and a green light for the Public Service Commission to hold utilities accountable to efficiency goals.”