Energy Efficiency Potential in Ohio

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy / by Maggie Molina and Neal Elliott

[Utility Dive] Ohio’s utility companies could have reduced energy usage by as much as a third in coming years if legislators had not frozen an efficiency mandate last year that was set to rise over time, according to a new white paper from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The ACEEE paper — which examines utilities’ own efficiency projections filed with regulators before the freeze — finds the state’s power companies envisioned technically-possible savings between 22% and 66% across time frames ranging from 10 to 20 years.

Last summer, Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a measure freezing the state’s mandates for renewables and efficiency until 2017, and the state is now debating whether to restart, adjust or kill the program permanently.

Dive Insight:

Ohio lawmakers are debating what to do with the state’s frozen energy efficiency standards — resume the program, kill it off or adjust the targets? Attempting to influence that debate, ACEEE has issued a white paper reminding the state that investor-owned utilities had forecast significant savings through the target, with double-digit consumption cuts technically achievable and smaller reductions available under far more modest cases.

“The four energy efficiency potential studies by Ohio investor-owned utilities document a large share of energy savings opportunities, and the most recent study by AEP indicates that it can cost effectively comply with the savings goals,” ACEEE found.

Further, ACEEE concluded that the utility studies likely did not fully capture all potential savings.

“Several strategies analyzed in this gap analysis identify areas where at least some of the studies did not fully capture all achievable savings,” the report concluded, including: LED lighting, behavioral response, multifamily, combined heat and power, strategic energy management, miscellaneous energy loads, and voltage optimization.

An examinination of the utilities’ analysis shows American Electric Power — the most recent study analyzed — examined technical, economic, and achievable potential from 2015 to 2034 and identified average economic potential savings of 2.6% per year, or 52% by 2034.

Dayton Power & Light identified average annual savings on an economic potential basis of 1.2%, or cumulative savings of 12% by 2022.

FirstEnergy’s 2012 study of economic potential identified cumulative savings of 29% by 2026, which ACEEE said is equivalent to average annual savings of 1.9% per year. The white paper showed Duke Energy Ohio’s study identified average annual savings of 0.7% per year, or 15% cumulative savings in 2032.

As the state debates the targets, Sen. Troy Balderson (R) has said “I think everything is still on the table. … I’d like to see the standards go down somewhat.” Balderson is co-chair of the Energy Mandates Study Committee, which this week had its final meeting. Recommendations from the group are due to House and Senate leaders by the end of September.


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