A new study shows that efficiency programs could save Utah residents and businesses 1.7 billion dollars by 2020. A group of energy experts gathered at the state Capitol last week to present their findings to state officials and representatives from the clean energy community.
Howard Geller is the Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). Geller says Utah is doing fairly well in terms of utility energy efficiency programs, but could be doing more - like incentives for high efficiency TV purchases, incentives for businesses to adopt combined heat and power systems, and a financing component to promote home and small business retrofits.
“Utilities such as Rocky Mountain Power could get about twice as much savings per year and achieve 20 percent savings by 2020 if they implemented best practice efficiency programs from around the region and across the country,” said Geller.
According to SWEEP’s report, Utah stands to save 3 billion gallons of water per year and eliminate 3 power plants. And the report estimates a net gain of more than 3000 jobs by 2020. Carol Hunter is Vice President of Energy Efficiency and Peak Management at Rocky Mountain Power. She says the company’s policy is driven by keeping costs down for its customers.
“I look at those numbers. Can we get there? I’d love to say yes,” said Hunter, “It will be all up to what gas prices do, and how fast energy use grows, and what technologies we’re going to see, but we are all marching there together.”
Hunter says Rocky Mountain may decide to ramp up on investment in energy efficiency, but they could also decide to slow down depending on market and economic forces - which they will review after the first of the year.