Energy efficiency is a “Triple Win” for Rhode Island (RI): it lowers energy bills, increases economic activity from new clean energy jobs, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. And Rhode Island is a proven leader–tied with Massachusetts in first place for utility energy efficiency programs, and ranked third in the nation overall in the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)’s 2014 State Scorecard.

Energy efficiency—a least-cost fuel—is a great deal for the state. Buying electricity from a power plant like the natural-gas fired Manchester Street Station costs between 8¢ and12¢ per kilowatt hour; yet, saving power through energy efficiency actions costs about 4¢ per kilowatt hour. By investing in as much low-cost energy efficiency as possible, RI reduces the cost of doing business in the state leaving consumers with more money in their pockets. Such consumer savings are often spent right in RI– where they can support our local markets, our students, our education and health facilities—while payments to fossil fuel providers head immediately out of state. Every dollar invested in cost-effective energy efficiency boosts the RI Gross State Product an estimated $3.60 and every $1 million invested in energy efficiency generates almost 40 job years of employment.

Building on RI’s great energy efficiency track record, the Public Utilities Commission approved the 2015 Energy Efficiency Program Plan in December and it will accomplish much more for the state:

•    Produce over $336 million in net economic benefits to RI homes and businesses
•    Save 1.9 million MWh of electricity and 4.8 million MMBTU of natural gas
•    Boost Rhode Island’s economy by adding over $417 million to Gross State Product
•    Create over 4,500 job-years of employment economy-wide

The cost savings are real! The Division of Public Utilities–the state agency charged with watching out for consumer interests– recently commissioned a research firm, Synapse Energy Economics, to see what efficiency is really doing for our electric bills. The analysis finds that a homeowner who gets a home energy assessment can save approximately 12% on her electric bill by undertaking energy efficiency upgrades. Small business customers, who are eligible for free energy audits, can save as much as 37% to 47% by doing the same.

Importantly, even customers who do nothing to their own houses or offices benefit from their neighbors’ energy efficiency actions. Reducing the state’s demand for power helps lower the costs of the whole energy system, and those savings are passed on to all electric consumers. Energy efficiency is the best strategy for reducing Rhode Islanders’ energy bills, lowering the cost of doing business in the state, and putting money back in the wallets of all consumers. It is a powerful tool to help chart RI’s pathway to a sustainable economy and clean energy future.

FMI: The 2015 Energy Efficiency Plan is part of a larger three-year Least Cost Procurement Plan for 2015, 2016, and 2017 that was approved by the PUC in October.

Energy efficiency investments are one aspect of a clean energy future for Rhode  Island. See Acadia Center’s 2015 Legislative Agenda for RI for more policy priorities.