In the past 25 years, our lives have become increasingly “plugged in.” We have an ever-increasing number of devices in our lives, our homes, and our offices that use electricity. What is amazing is that with our foresight and work during this same time period, our region now uses energy efficiently more than ever – reducing pollution, saving money, growing jobs, and cutting through partisan politics to succeed.
That’s a regional legacy to be proud of and one highlighted in the recent op-ed co-authored by former CLF President Douglas Foy.
With the publication of “Power to Spare” in 1987, CLF and others set forth the effective “out of the box” thinking that allows for reduced energy consumption while increasing economic growth. As the op-ed recounts:
“Our proposition was unique: To shift incentives that encouraged utilities to sell more power, to a new model that would reward them for promoting conservation. By putting efficiency on a level playing field with coal, gas, oil and nuclear, we would be able to lower demand, cut consumption, decrease total use and reduce pollution. We promised to boost the local economy at the same time through the job intensive investments in efficiency and by reaping the economic benefits of lower energy costs.”
And it’s been a success that continues.
Massachusetts passed the “Green Communities Act” and has grown energy efficiency jobs and lowered electric costs, with average rates for residential consumers dropping from the 4th highest to 11th highest place.
Rhode Island recently approved an aggressive efficiency budget and is expected to meet more than 100% of its anticipated load growth with energy efficiency, not through additional polluting electricity generation.
In New Hampshire, CLF Ventures recently managed a statewide project helping communities throughout the state identify ways to reduce energy consumption and costs through greater efficiency.
Vermont has its own efficiency utility that works statewide providing one-stop-shopping for businesses and residents to reduce costs and energy use with a budget designed to achieve over 2% annual savings.
Maine now has an independent energy efficiency authority which, in 2011, obtained state-wide energy savings equivalent to the output of a 110MW power plant by obtaining $3 of savings for every $1 invested by the program.
The transformation begun 25 years ago – that we are all a part of – continues. It provides a model for the country, and a model for further action to tackle climate change.