Elaine Labalme
PennFuture report shows utility energy savings law working wonders

Pennsylvania's families and businesses saving $278 million each year while law adds new jobs, reduces pollution, enhances energy security

(Philadelphia, PA — December 20, 2011) — The PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment released a new study today by Optimal Energy detailing the impact of Act 129, the energy savings law, on Pennsylvania's families and businesses, environment, and economy.

"The energy savings law is an unqualified success," said Courtney Lane, senior energy policy analyst for Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture). "Thanks to Act 129, Pennsylvanians have succeeded in cutting demand for electricity by 2,073 gigawatt-hours (GWh) — 41 percent greater than required by the law; racked up savings of $278 million annually for our families and businesses; and gained 4,000 job years ((job years are measured as one full-time job for one year). We have also reduced air pollution that leads to global warming significantly, cutting 23 million tons of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the installed energy efficiency measures, the same as taking four million cars off the road for a year. And the cherry on the top is that our electricity grid is becoming more stable, along with electricity prices, every year this program is in force.

"And these successes come at a very low cost," continued Lane. "For every dollar spent on Act 129 programs, customers receive $8 in energy savings over the life of the measures. The energy savings law has truly been a triple win: for our citizens, our economy, and our environment. Now, we need to stay on that winning path."

The utility energy savings law, Act 129, became law on October 15, 2008 with the promise of curtailing energy demand, creating jobs, and reducing pollution. The Act was to achieve these goals by requiring Pennsylvania electric utilities to reduce their overall electricity load by 1 percent by May 31, 2011 and 3 percent by May 31, 2013, and to reduce peak demand by 4.5 percent by offering electric customers a portfolio of cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation programs. Optimal's analysis of the Act 129 data through May 31, 2011 shows that every utility exceeded its first Act 129 goal of a 1 percent reduction in electricity consumption with the exception of West Penn Power.

The current Act 129 program expires on May 31, 2013. The Public Utility Commission (PUC) has until November 30, 2013 to determine if it has been cost-effective; if so, it is required to set new savings goals. However, if the PUC does not take action well in advance of the November 2013 date, there will be a "blackout" period for utility energy efficiency programs. This will mean several months of inaction between the time utilities are required to meet their 2013 goals (May 31, 2013) and when the PUC makes a determination on future goals (November 30, 2013), and approves those new utility plans. The Optimal report includes estimates of future savings and other benefits of extending the program.

"The facts are clear," said Lane. "Act 129 works for everyone, and the PUC should take action to extend the programs and keep Pennsylvanians moving forward with new jobs, less money wasted, and cleaner air."

The report is available online.

The PennFuture Energy Center is a project of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future. PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state's environment and economy. With offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Wilkes-Barre, PennFuture's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education, and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

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