Statement by Dylan Voorhees, NRCM Clean Energy Project Director
Maine spends roughly $7 billion on energy every year – mostly for oil, gas and electricity. It is hard to be a lot more precise because, as we know from the last few years, energy prices can double in a matter of months, making energy expenses among the most volatile and unpredictable in the state. It is well understood that Maine people and policymakers are looking for ways to reduce energy costs. It is less well understood that one of the most significant tools that Maine has to reduce these costs isn’t finding some marvelous new supply of cheap power, but harnessing existing energy efficiency technology to cut waste and run our economy by spending less on purchased energy.
Efficiency Maine’s comprehensive Three-year Plan was developed last year and approved by the Public Utilities Commission. It outlines specific strategies and programs that—with final approval by the Legislature—will save almost one billion dollars. Each dollar we invest in energy efficiency yields an average of three dollars of savings—and because the money saved is spent inside the Maine economy instead of on energy that was likely imported into Maine, that dollar investment yields four dollars in state GDP.
We know this because Efficiency Maine’s programs have been delivering outstanding, rigorously-measured savings—about half a billion dollars since 2004—including by partnering with businesses with technical and financial assistance. Over 3,300 Maine businesses have been saving money with Efficiency Maine’s help: $320 million so far. All this might sound abstract, but these projects have tangible meaning for these businesses. Today, the Legislature is receiving a letter from about 250 Maine businesses, from every county and every sector of the economy, describing the importance of energy efficiency and urging them to make it a top priority.
Here to describe their experiences with energy efficiency are three of those businesses:
1. Joel Selwood, Plant Manager at Formtek-Maine, a metal products manufacturer in Clinton.
2. Chris Cookson, Owner of Cookson’s Collision Center in Palmyra.
3. Dan Brooks, owner of Capital Car Care in Augusta.
Despite the thousands of success stories with energy efficiency in Maine businesses, significantly more energy efficiency savings remain untapped. Even Central Maine Power’s own consultants concluded that it would be cost-effective for Maine to invest significantly more through Efficiency Maine. Every other state in New England has a higher per capita rate of investment in energy efficiency. The more worried you are about energy costs, the more emphasis you should put on energy efficiency.
In addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars that Maine businesses are saving with projects like these, investments in energy efficiency help all ratepayers by reducing the need to buy expensive power at peak periods. Last year Efficiency Maine saved ratepayers at least $5 million through this price reduction effect.
Finally, Efficiency Maine leverages significant private investments in Maine that wouldn’t otherwise happen. Last year, as a direct result of our efficiency programs, $86 million of private money was invested in Maine, mostly in businesses. Those investments help improve Maine’s economy, even—perhaps especially—in tough economic times when private investment is more challenging.
We hope that legislators will hear the message from these 250 businesses that energy efficiency offers one of the best ways to reduce energy costs, strengthen competitiveness—especially for manufacturers and others competing outside of Maine—and strengthen the overall economy. This Legislature has an opportunity to translate that into concrete action, by providing Efficiency Maine with the resources to help many additional businesses complete many additional energy saving projects.