Business Planning Process Planning & Strategy

How Electric Companies Are Supporting Energy Conservation Efforts

Share this:

Companies around the country are taking energy efficiency seriously. From carbon-neutral shipping efforts by FedEx to new electric vehicles in the Lyft fleet, these businesses are going all-in on sustainability.

Energy-efficiency improvements reduce the load on the electric grid, helping avoid power outages. They also cut fossil fuel use, reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollution that can hurt health.

Reliable Electricity

Energy reliability is a key driver of business and personal activities, enabling us to operate appliances, heat our homes, and work when we want to. It is fundamental that quality electrical components are used, such as these Meister Intl porcelain insulators (or other parts more applicable), as this ensures that energy usage is efficient and dependable. A reliable electric power system requires sufficient electricity generation adequacy, robust power system infrastructure, and utility financial and operational performance. EMP’s electricity reliability research focuses on developing and enhancing reliability data, metrics, trends, and economics; improving the understanding of the relationship between power system reliability and customer benefits; and promoting applications of reliability-value-based planning.

Energy efficiency is integral to a sustainable energy supply, reducing the new capacity needed to meet peak demand. However, to ensure that energy conservation efforts deliver the most reliable results, we must balance this efficiency with other factors, like providing reliable energy at a competitive price.

To do this, we must ensure that our energy resources – including big power plants and energy efficiency — are properly incentivized by the right price signals. For example, by making the energy efficiency and demand response prices more consistent with their reliability value, we will increase their interest in participating in ISO auctions and help create a more reliable grid.

Examples of these initiatives include the 2021 Climate Act in Massachusetts, which made GHG emission reduction a mandatory goal and objective for energy efficiency programming or PUC decision-making, and New England’s Explicit GHG PIMs that reward utilities for annual incremental adoption of beneficial electrification (shifting vehicles and buildings to use electricity instead of fossil fuels). These policies are starting to send the right signals to our energy sector.

Saving Money

Electricity is a significant expense in most households, and utility bills comprise a substantial portion of household budgets. Luckily, some easy ways to save energy and money at home exist. For example, some electric utilities offer time-of-use electricity plans. These plans charge more during peak hours when demand is highest and less during off-peak hours. You can reduce your electric bill by timing your energy-intensive activities, like laundry and dishwashing, to off-peak hours.

Other simple ways to save include turning off lights and appliances when not in use. You can also turn off devices, like TVs and computers, that remain in standby mode using a trickle of power that can account for 5%-10% of your home’s energy use and cost you $100 a year or more. You can also purchase a bright power strip or plug-in that automatically shuts off your devices when not in use.

State and local governments and utility companies offer various energy efficiency programs that can help you save on your energy bills. Often, these energy efficiency measures are sponsored by your electric company in Grand Prairie, Texas, because they can offset the need for additional electricity sources and help manage times of high demand. Energy efficiency measures can include lighting upgrades that improve illumination, new appliance standards and targets, vehicle fuel economy goals, zoning reforms to promote walkable communities, and other efforts.

Reducing Carbon Emissions

Many utilities set carbon goals without federal climate policy to demonstrate their commitment to investors. EPI has identified 22 investor-owned utilities with publicly disclosed carbon targets.

These companies include Xcel Energy, AEP, and Duke Energy. Most of these utilities have goals based on their operations and do not count the fossil fuel emissions from power plants they buy electricity from. Including these purchases, it is estimated that the average utility’s carbon footprint is about 720 pounds per megawatt-hour of energy (see chart below).

As more renewables come online, the CO2 intensity of electricity will continue to drop. But the best way to increase these gains is by using electricity during hours when it’s lowest in CO2 intensity. This is made possible thanks to digitalization, allowing appliances and equipment to be programmed to run at times when energy prices are low.

Lighting and refrigeration are great places to start for significant carbon cuts, with LED lights saving 110 terawatt-hours by 2030, about the total current electricity consumption of the Netherlands. Distribution transformers, which adjust voltage and current for customers, are another opportunity for large reductions. Increasing their efficiency can save 60 terawatt-hours by 2040, equal to the current consumption of the Czech Republic. Other options for reducing carbon in the electric sector include the electrification of vehicles, industrial manufacturing, and consumer products that can be sourced from recycled materials.

Creating Jobs

As more Americans choose electric vehicles (EVs), charging stations, and electricity-efficient appliances, the need for workers who install, maintain, and repair these new technologies will increase. In addition, many electric companies use their substantial annual investment in smarter energy infrastructure to create high-quality jobs and support communities throughout America.

Across the country, more than 2.7 million people work directly for or on behalf of the electric power industry. That number increases to 4.4 million when broader economic impacts are considered, including the jobs supported by the industry’s suppliers, contractors, and investments.

Electric companies are helping to build careers in the clean energy sector by providing educational opportunities, skills training, STEM education, and resources for veterans, women, youth, and others. For example, electric cooperatives offer scholarships to students seeking a career as a lineworker – the workers who keep the electricity flowing through local communities.

In addition, the industry is working with customers and partners to drive energy efficiency in the economy by setting minimum performance standards for new car models, buildings, appliances, and technical equipment. These standards set safety and performance levels, aid consumer decision-making, and incentivize companies to invest in more efficient products. For example, lighting manufacturers are developing LED lamps that use less electricity and last 20 times longer than traditional bulbs. Distribution transformers are also being made more efficient to reduce the amount of electricity they waste while adjusting voltage and current.

Message Us