Maryland Approves Efficiency Funding

emPower MarylandMaryland utilities had about $95 million in energy efficiency program funding requests approved by state regulators while at the same time they were chastised for not meeting goals fast enough.

The approved funding is for EmPOWER Maryland, the state’s program to reduce electricity use. In addition to efficiency efforts, it includes energy audits, appliance rebates and incentives to reduce the cost of business improvements.

The Public Service Commission noted the gap in its funding-approval order and asked for a “renewed commitment” to the program.

The Maryland Public Interest Research Group recently said the state is not on pace to reach its goal of reducing per-capita electricity use by 15 percent no later than 2015, compared with 2007 levels.

“Collectively, these utilities have achieved 50% of the 2015 EmPOWER Maryland energy savings goal and 52% of the 2015 EmPOWER Maryland peak demand reduction goal, an increase of 9 percentage points and 1 percentage point, respectively, from where they were in relation to the goals at the end of 2012,” the commission wrote.

“Although this progress is impressive and represents significant energy and economic savings to Maryland ratepayers, it reflects energy savings and peak demand reductions below the forecasts set by the utilities in their 2012-2014 plans, and below the goals established by the EmPOWER Act,” it continued.

The PSC said the goals should be taken seriously and noted the utilities lacked a sense of urgency. “Accordingly, we order the utilities to effectively and aggressively execute the programs associated with the additional funding.”

Regulators noted that through the second quarter of 2013, the utilities reported customer savings of 2,729,390 MWh of electricity and 1,097 MW of peak demand reduction as a result of EmPOWER Maryland programs.

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