Today the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) unanimously approved Efficiency Maine’s Triennial Plan, the comprehensive document that outlines the strategies, programs, budgets and estimated savings for three years starting July 1, 2013.
The final plan, approved by the PUC today, would save electric ratepayers approximately $500 million, although the original plan proposed by Efficiency Maine would have saved $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 reduced Plan would save ratepayers considerably more than business-as-usual investments.
“This PUC decision means that Mainers can save hundreds of millions of dollars on energy bills when we do more energy efficiency,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Efficiency Maine’s plan would save Mainers on energy bills by buying efficiency for less than 3 cents/kwh instead of buying power supply, which would cost more than twice as much. This efficiency is the cheapest energy resource available for Maine ratepayers.”
The PUC ruled that the Plan complies with all necessary laws, and made appropriate use various funding sources primarily designed to save money for electric and natural gas ratepayers. The PUC found that electric ratepayers will save more money if ratepayer investment in energy efficiency is increased. The PUC’s finding now becomes a recommendation to the Legislature.
“Ratepayers would be clear winners if today’s decision moves forward,” said Voorhees. “Unfortunately, unlike every other state on the nation, Maine’s has convoluted laws that put additional bureaucratic and political hurdles in place. Consequently, the good decision reached by the PUC remains at risk.” Maine is the only state that determines what level of efficiency investment would most benefit ratepayers through a legislative decision, not the public utilities commission.
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. NRCM and other groups participated as interveners, submitting testimony, participating in hearings and providing legal briefings to the PUC.
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.