Additional Reasons to support EE in WV

Lower Utility Bills

When homes and buildings are made more energy efficient, they use less energy and as a result have lower utility bills. Some West Virginians spend 1/4 of their monthly income on utility bills. By lowering their utility bills, these families will be able to afford to pay for a tank of gas, doctors bills and other necessary things. Other families will be able to take the savings and re-invest the money in the local economy, something that is needed in today's economic times. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) predicts that if West Virginians start investing in energy efficiency now, the average West Virginian family could save over $1200/year on their utility bills by 2020.

Residential sector energy savings that can be 
achieved by 2020 and 2030.

When governments lower their utility bills, they can allocate that money to other programs. As we all know, budgets are very tight right now so saving money on utility bills is a smart choice. Additionally, when businesses and industry is able to decrease the amount of money spent on utility bills, they can offer their products to consumers at lower and more-competitive prices.

Commercial Sector (includes Government Buildings) savings 
that can be achieved by 2020 and 2030. These energy savings will 
result in huge monetary savings for businesses and governments.

Electricity Rates

Each year, the utilities and the Public Service Commission set rates that are expected to recover the utilities' costs of purchasing fuel and power. In 2009, Appalachian Power proposed a 43% rate increase - largely due to an unprecedented 2008 spike in coal prices. The bulk of Appalachian Power's rate increases over the past 5 years can be attributed to rising coal and purchased power costs. Similarly, customers of FirstEnergy (formerly Allegheny Energy) have seen their rates increase by a third over the past three years, largely due to rising coal costs and declining sales of electricity to the grid. See Why the rate hikes?.

To protect ratepayers from increasing fuel costs and volatility in coal prices, West Virginia needs to be proactive in finding new ways to diversify our energy supply. Energy efficiency is one of many sectors that West Virginia has historically under-invested in.

Electricity rates have been increasing rapidly in the past 5 years. 
Investing in energy efficiency could have alleviated some of these 
rates hikes. By investing in energy efficiency, West Virginians can make 
sure we don't experience such drastic rate increases again.

Job Creation

Investing in energy efficiency will create jobs in West Virginia that cannot be outsourced. Energy efficiency also creates a lot of “indirect jobs” because the money that people don't spend on electricity is spent on other goods & services which are usually more job-intensive than electricity production. A 2009 study by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the Center for American Progress calculates that 16.7 jobs are created for every one million dollars invested in energy efficiency. In contrast, only 5.3 jobs are created for every one million dollars invested in fossil fuels.

The Energy Efficiency services sector is a growing source of jobs across the country, currently employing about 400,000 people; it is expected to grow to between 700,000 to 1.3 million people by 2020 (see here). By investing in energy efficiency, West Virginia can attract some of these new jobs to our state. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy predicts that 5,000 energy efficiency related jobs can be created in West Virginia by 2020 and 6,700 jobs can be created by 2030.

Preparing for the Future

According to American Electric Power's most recent long-term planning document (their 2010 Integrated Resource Plan), AEP-East is planning to retire close to 6000 MW of coal-fired capacity by 2020, about 21% of their total generating capacity. This will require investing in new capacity to meet power demand. Energy efficiency and demand response are cheaper options than building new conventional or renewable energy power plants. According to a 2009 study by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy analyzing energy efficiency programs in other states, on average utilities spend 2.5 cents to save one kilowatt hour of electricity. Contrast that to building a new natural gas plant, which ends up costing 7 to 10 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity produced.

Opportunities for Savings

A 2009 study by the Appalachian Regional Commission found that ambitious energy efficiency policies could reduce energy consumption in the region 12% by 2020 and 28% by 2030 – far more than what either of our main utilities are proposing to do.

Due to historic underinvestment in energy efficiency, West Virginia has a relatively old and inefficient residential and commercial building stock with great potential for energy efficiency improvements. Relative to the rest of the nation, we also have a relatively poor population, many of whom are on fixed incomes. Thus, we are harder hit by rate increases, and much energy is wasted. As of 2008, West Virginia had the 2nd lowest electricity rates in the nation – but residents in 18 other states spent less than West Virginians per capita on their electricity bills. This implies significant potential for West Virginians to save money through residential energy efficiency.

Potential for savings through energy efficiency: The brown line on top 
is the Annual Energy Outlook performed by the U.S. Energy Information 
Administration in 2005. The other lines show various calculations that 
were performed in 2011, showing how much progress has been made 
regarding energy efficiency in the U.S. and also showing the potential savings.