Investing in energy-efficiency projects such as high-efficiency lighting, HVAC, and motors could save FirstEnergy and American Electric Power customers in West Virginia millions of dollars, avoid “unnecessary coal plants” and create 19,500 jobs, according to a report by Optimal Energy, commissioned by the Sierra Club.
The report, titled Save Money, Create Jobs: How Energy Efficiency Can Work for West Virginia, says meeting the total achievable energy-efficiency potential through 2016 could save the state’s two major utility companies’ customers a total of $800 million over the life of the efficiency investments, $550 million more than with the companies’ current plans.
In addition to saving ratepayers’ money, the report says the utility companies could reduce consumption about three times more — 1.2 percent per year — than the current plan by implementing energy-efficiency programs. This is about 250,000 MWh per year above what is being proposed by West Virginia utilities, according to Sierra Club. Over four years, this represents nearly 1.4 million MWh in savings, 1 million MWh more than the current plans.
FirstEnergy has proposed to charge West Virginia customers more than $1 billion to buy coal-fired power plants from a subsidiary, and American Electric Power has proposed merging its two utilities in the state into Appalachian Power Company (APCo) and relying on coal capacity for the next 15 years, the report says.
According to Sierra Club, West Virginia lags the nation in energy-efficiency investments.
In its 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked West Virginia 49th out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, based on its performance in implementing energy efficiency of all types.
Meanwhile, FirstEnergy and American Electric Power have both invested in energy-efficiency programs in Ohio; the report says they should invest in similar programs in West Virginia.
It calls on regulators to require FirstEnergy and American Electric Power to increase their energy efficiency investments across the state.