What We Support

Energy Efficiency:
Energy efficiency programs provide ways for customers to save energy and money.  Even though energy efficiency saves money over the long run, the upfront cost is often a barrier.  In other states, these programs include rebates for energy efficient appliances, low-interest loans for home weatherization, and other financing and incentives.  Even customers who don't participate in energy efficiency programs still indirectly benefit because reducing the demand for electricity reduces the need for utilities to raise rates to cover the cost of building expensive new power plants. Efficiency programs offer participating customers the opportunity to directly reduce their energy use and save on their bills.  

Other states are achieving savings in electricity sales of 1-2% per year, but our utilities have proposed much less ambitious goals.   By failing to offer customers the same kinds of efficiency programs that utilities across the country are offering, our utilities are hurting West Virginia customers who are going to have to continue to pay for expensive rate hikes as coal prices increase and coal power plants are retired.

Demand Response:
Demand response refers to programs which are specifically targeted to reduce electricity use during hours of peak demand – this saves money for customers because these are the hours when wholesale electricity prices, which get passed on to customers in rates, are highest.  Demand response programs include time-of-use metering (in which electric rates are higher during peak hours to encourage conservation during those hours), industrial load curtailment (where large energy users voluntarily agree to reduce their energy use at peak times in exchange for incentives), and other mechanisms.

Other states are aggressively pursuing demand response strategies.  In Pennsylvania, for example, utilities have been required to reduce peak demand 4.5% from 2009-2013.  Demand response in the mid-Atlantic region was a crucial factor in stopping the controversial and ultimately unnecessary PATH powerline project from West Virginia east.

Energy Efficient West Virginia supports comprehensive policies like an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard that would set a timeline for achieving energy efficiency and demand response goals statewide.

Stronger Building Codes:
Constructing buildings to be energy efficiency up-front is far more cost-effective than trying to improve energy efficiency after construction. Since buildings last for decades, building this infrastructure correctly from the beginning is essential to achieving long-term energy efficiency goals. Investment in an energy efficient building is a long-term benefit to residents and businesses who will benefit from lower energy bills. For example, California, which has its own stringent set of building energy codes, found that these building energy codes and the state's appliance codes had together saved consumers more than $56 billion in energy costs since 1978 and had avoided the need to build fifteen new power plants.

Least-cost Planning:
West Virginia's energy system faces many challenges in the coming decade, as several of our oldest and least efficient coal-fired power plants face retirement.  Our utilities should be aggressively investing now in energy efficiency and demand response as the cheapest option to make up for this lost capacity.  But even though efficiency and demand response are the cheapest option for ratepayers (us!), utilities have financial incentives to sell more power and to invest in building new infrastructure.  The West Virginia Public Service Commission should be more carefully scrutinizing our utilities' "integrated resource plans" (their plans for how they will meet power demand over the next several years) to make sure that these plans really are the least-cost option for customers.  In some states, utilities are explicitly required to prioritize energy efficiency and demand response in developing their plans.

Efficiency in Schools and Government Buildings:
Currently significant taxpayer money is wasted through inefficiency in public buildings and schools. Wyoming County has been able to save more than $2 million since 2003 through aggressive energy efficiency measures in the school district. This example suggests the potential for savings in other school districts and municipal buildings. Savings from efficiency could be reinvested into teacher salaries, benefits for public employees, and other needed reforms to improve our school systems and public services.