PROVIDENCE, RI – On December 20, 2016 the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the 2017 Energy Efficiency and System Reliability Plans for Rhode Island in order to help save consumers money on their utility bills and boost Rhode Island’s economy. This plan was developed collaboratively by key stakeholders representing a wide range of consumer interests, including the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, the Office of Energy Resources, the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council, National Grid, Acadia Center, People’s Power and Light, and Emerald Cities Rhode Island.
In 2006, Rhode Island adopted a strategic and economic approach to investing in low cost energy efficiency to reduce consumers’ energy costs. In 2017, electricity from power plants like the Manchester Street Station in Providence will cost about 9.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, while the cost of eliminating wasted energy through efficiency improvements is about 5.79 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“Energy efficiency is an energy resource just like power from the coal and natural gas-fired power plants at Salem Harbor, Brayton Point, or Manchester Street. But energy efficiency is much cheaper, cleaner, and lower risk. In fact, the Public Utilities Commission’s decision to approve this plan is the best way to help customers save money,” said Acadia Center Rhode Island Director Abigail Anthony. Dr. Anthony represents environmental interests on the state’s Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council (EERMC), which provides independent input and oversight to National Grid’s electric and natural gas efficiency programs.
Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs help residents and businesses make energy efficient decisions by providing technical assistance and information coupled with financial incentives. For example, a residential electric or natural gas customer is eligible to receive a free home energy assessment during which the auditor will evaluate the lighting, insulation, appliance efficiency, and overall energy “fitness” of the home. The auditor will also inform the customer if she is eligible for financial incentives to help reduce the out-of-pocket cost of investing in energy efficient improvements, such as weatherization or new heating equipment. Loans are available to help homeowners and business owners with the up-front costs of efficiency upgrades.
These programs are proven and working for Rhode Island. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy ranked Rhode Island first in the nation for the state’s energy efficiency programs and policies. In addition to helping Rhode Islanders lower their utility bills, the state’s investments in low cost energy efficiency reduce the cost of doing business in the state, create jobs, and boost economic activity. The avoided spending on electricity and natural gas from the 2017 Energy Efficiency Plan will generate $314 million in economic benefits to Rhode Islanders. Rhode Island’s energy efficiency programs directly support 696 jobs across 1,009 firms, more than 79 percent of which are located in Rhode Island.
In 2014, The Division of Public Utilities–the state agency charged with watching out for consumer interests– commissioned the research firm Synapse Energy Economics to see what efficiency is really doing for our electric bills. Analysis of the 2017 Energy Efficiency Plan finds that the average residential consumer that undertakes energy efficiency actions will save 2% on her electric bill by replacing inefficient lighting and appliances and upgrading home insulation and weatherization. Factor in savings on natural gas or fuel oil use and total spending on energy is even lower. Additionally, small business customers, who are eligible for free energy audits, can save as much as 35% by installing high efficiency equipment and making recommended retrofits.
Abigail Anthony, Rhode Island Director
Krysia Wazny, Communications Associate
617.742.0054 x107, email@example.com