New plan could double $2.5 billion energy efficiency success in Illinois

By Christie Hicks and Dick Munson

Just how valuable is energy efficiency? To the customers of ComEd, Illinois’ largest electric utility, efficiency’s value is in the billions – $2.5 billion, to be exact.

That’s how much ComEd customers have saved to date through the utility’s energy efficiency program, and thanks to a new plan under the Future Energy Jobs Act, more savings – and less pollution – are on the way.

ComEd agreed to invest $350 million each year for the next four years in energy efficiency programs, resulting in new initiatives that “will nearly double savings for customers and reduce electricity use in Illinois by 21 percent by 2030.”

Expanding on success

At the end of 2016, Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, the most significant climate and clean energy bill in state history. The legislation went into effect this month and doubles the state’s successful energy efficiency portfolio.

To get there, ComEd has been working with diverse stakeholders including the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, which includes founding members Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Sierra Club, Citizens Utility Board, and NRDC, as well as others representing a wide array of faith, environmental, business, and consumer interests. The agreed-upon efficiency plan includes these provisions:

  • Grow existing programs like product rebates, energy assessments, weatherization, and comprehensive retrofitting offerings,
  • Spend $48.2 million, nearly double the original allocation in the Future Energy Jobs Act, in economically-disadvantaged communities, and
  • Ensure the benefits are not limited to single-family households by targeting multi-family residences.

Energy efficiency also will lower overall costs because less energy use lowers wear and tear on ComEd’s system.

Smarter data use

Illinois’ Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act propelled the state’s two largest electric utilities, ComEd and Ameren, to invest billions of dollars in making the grid smarter, including AMI (advanced metering infrastructure). This investment resulted in a statewide rollout of smart meters, which should be completely installed by 2019, and the utilities already have begun collecting significant amounts of energy-use data.

As part of the new energy efficiency plan, ComEd also will explore ways to use electricity data to better target customer needs and promote its efficiency programs, as well as to assist in evaluating programs and course-correcting, when possible. For example, data could be used to target buildings with the highest potential savings, which both increases energy savings and decreases program administrative costs such as customer acquisition.

In order to ensure all Illinoisans save on their electricity bills, EDF and others will work with the Illinois Commerce Commission to bring greater energy efficiency offerings to Ameren’s customers as well.

Efficiency isn’t just about saving money – lower energy use means less pollution, so Illinoisans can live longer and healthier lives. That’s the true value of energy efficiency.

Photo source: DodgertonSkillhause at Morguefile.com

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Dick, it was just over two years ago when you published the news about Commonwealth Edison lowering every customer’s voltage by 1.7 volts along with the company’s marketing that the program somehow benefitted customers through “optimization”:

    http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2015/04/20/its-not-magic-its-voltage-optimization/

    Lowering voltage effectively lowers power to your household. You’re charged in units of energy so you don’t necessarily pay more, but any incandescent lights will be dimmer; some LEDs may not work at all; your toaster won’t get as hot; your electric oven will take longer to heat up. Every electrical appliance will take longer to get the job done, effectively shifting ComEd’s burden to that of the public. Making customers' lives less efficient, while improving ComEd’s bottom line.

    Seems like renewables advocates will believe anything.

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