Idaho Endorsing National Plan for Energy Efficiency
Gene Fadness
Idaho Public Utilities Commission
September 7, 2007

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission, along with other Idaho agencies, is joining in a nationwide effort to enhance energy security and protect the environment by encouraging public and private entities to implement energy efficiency measures.
The commission, the office of Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, the Idaho Energy Division and the state Department of Environmental Quality are endorsing the recommendations of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.

The aim of the national plan, co-chaired by Idaho Commissioner Marsha Smith and Jim Rogers, president of North Carolina-based Duke Energy, is to secure commitments from public and private entities in every state to reduce energy consumption.

The plan’s recommendations, if fully implemented, could save Americans billions of dollars in energy bills over the next decade, contribute to energy security by reducing the nation’s reliance on foreign oil and improve the environment through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

“Conservation is the lowest-hanging fruit in the energy orchard, and it’s our first priority in making Idaho and America more energy independent,” Gov. Otter said. “Idaho has a great team in place, including the PUC, DEQ, the Energy Division, and other agencies, working together to address a range of energy-related issues from greenhouse gas emissions to ensuring the infrastructure is in place to more efficiently and cleanly meet tomorrow’s needs,” the governor said. “Taking part in this National Action Plan is another step in the right direction.”

The plan, initiated under the leadership of the federal Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, was developed by a leadership group of more than 50 electric and gas utilities, utility regulators, state agencies, large energy users, consumer advocates and environmental and energy efficiency organizations.

Idaho’s Public Utilities Commission has already taken a number of steps to encourage energy efficiency in the state. “Energy efficiency is the cleanest, least cost energy available and can be obtained more quickly than other generation resources,” said Commissioner Smith.
The commission, in cooperation with electric utilities, has implemented “demand-side management” programs that reduce demand on electric generators during peak operating times, often with the use of advanced metering technology. The commission has approved time-of-use metering, which allows residential and irrigation customers to shift their electrical use to non-peak times of the day in exchange for paying a lower electric rate. Residents can also volunteer to participate in a program that allows their electric utility to remotely control customers’ air conditioning units during peak periods to reduce demand.

The commission, working with customer groups and utilities, recently doubled the funding for weatherization projects for qualifying homes. In cooperation with Idaho Power Co., the commission has authorized a pilot program that removes the financial disincentive to utilities caused when conservation programs reduce energy sales.

Energy efficiency measures like these reduce consumption while delaying and perhaps even preventing the need to build new power plants. “We need to make sure we’ve explored all the cost-effective energy efficiencies we can before we build additional electric generation sources,” said Commissioner Paul Kjellander, president of the Idaho Public Utilities Commission.

The commission isn’t the only state agency actively promoting energy efficiency. The Idaho Energy Division has for years promoted energy efficiency programs that reduce consumption. The Energy Star Homes Northwest program for site-built homes and the Northwest Energy Efficient Manufactured Homes program are both examples of new housing that reduces energy consumption by 30 percent over standard construction, according to Bob Hoppie, energy division administrator. “These are just two efforts the Energy Division is vigorously working on to support the National Action Plan,” Hoppie said.

The state’s Department of Environmental Quality has also formally endorsed the plan.

“Energy efficiency not only makes good economic sense, but also goes hand-in-hand with other statewide efforts to reduce air pollution, conserve water and reduce greenhouse gases,” said Toni Hardesty, state DEQ director.

Rogers, the Duke Energy CEO who co-chairs with National Action Plan with Commissioner Smith, said the cheapest way to generate emissions-free power is improving energy efficiency. “The most environmentally sound, inexpensive and reliable power plant is the one we don’t have to build because we’ve helped our customers save energy.”