Press Release by NRCM, Environment Northeast, and Conservation Law Foundation
Yesterday afternoon the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issued its final order unanimously approving Efficiency Maine’s Triennial Plan (Plan), the comprehensive document that outlines the strategies, programs, budgets and estimated savings for three years starting July 1, 2013. The PUC recommended that the legislature approve significant increases in efficiency investment in order to maximize savings for ratepayers.
The final Plan would save electric ratepayers nearly $500 million, although the original Plan proposed by Efficiency Maine identified $650 million in achievable cost-effective savings. The Commission decided to apply a very conservative estimate of achievable savings. The PUC found that even the somewhat reduced Plan would save ratepayers considerably more than a business-as-usual investment level, with Commissioners stating in the order that if the increase were approved, “we have a high level of confidence that ratepayer money would be used cost-effectively.”
The PUC ruled that the Plan complies with all necessary laws. The PUC’s recommendation to increase investment in energy efficiency now goes to the Legislature.
“This PUC decision shows that Mainers could save hundreds of millions of dollars more on energy bills if we did more energy efficiency,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Efficiency Maine’s plan would reduce Mainers’s energy bills by paying for efficiency at less than 3 cents/kwh instead of buying power supply at twice that price. Efficiency is the cheapest energy resource available for Maine ratepayers.”
ENE presented an economic analysis to the PUC showing that electric bills would drop by more than 6% by 2025 under the Trust’s proposal. It would also boost the Gross State Product by $1.4 billion and create more than 16,000 jobs. The PUC approved about 75% of the efficiency investment level proposed by the Trust. “Investing in all energy efficiency that costs less than energy supply is a win-win-win for Maine energy consumers and the Maine economy,” said Beth Nagusky, ENE Maine Director.
This is the second Triennial Plan prepared by the Efficiency Maine Trust, the independent public entity tasked with helping Mainers reduce energy costs through investments in energy efficiency. In 2009, the PUC approved the first Plan, but failed to make a specific recommendation about how much efficiency would be beneficial for ratepayers. The previous Legislature failed to make changes from the business-as-usual amounts of energy efficiency.
During this proceeding, the PUC undertook a more detailed analysis of the Plan, especially of the supporting studies which identified the full amount of cost-effective energy efficiency savings that is achievable in Maine. This led the PUC to make a formal recommendation.
“Maine’s energy experts have spoken and they unanimously agree that the Legislature should significantly increase funding for energy efficiency,” said Greg Cunningham, Senior Attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation. “This detailed decision from the PUC confirms the value of Maine’s energy efficiency programs and the need for more funding to maximize their benefit to ratepayers.”
According to its Annual Report, in 2012 alone, Efficiency Maine helped homeowners and businesses achieve $71 million in net savings over the lifetime of the energy efficiency improvements.
Efficiency Maine Triennial Plan available at: http://www.efficiencymaine.com/docs/TriPlan2-11-26-2012.pdf