In Virginia, we have vast untapped energy efficiency potential. Implementing statewide energy efficiency programs is by far the cheapest way to cut harmful pollution and grow our economy. Virginia could cut wasted energy by nearly one-third over the next decade with proven energy efficiency programs and technologies that would cost less to install (per KWh saved) than we currently pay for electricity.
By implementing efficiency programs, such as offering low-cost home and commercial energy audits, Virginia’s electric utilities can cut as much wasted energy as they would generate by building a new fossil-fueled power plant. While efficiency programs help to significantly cut energy bills at an individual home or business, that reduction in demand ends up saving all of the utility’s ratepayers the money that would otherwise be spent on a new power plant. In 2010, energy efficiency programs saved customers in the U.S. and Canada the equivalent of the electricity output of nearly 20 large power plants.
Despite the potential for this low-cost resource, the Virginia legislature adopted a voluntary goal for electric utilities of reducing energy consumption by just 10% of 2006 levels in the next decade. Six years later, Virginia utilities have reduced energy consumption by less than 1%. But we can catch up. A new study shows that cutting wasted energy by just 1.3% a year will get us back on track toward meeting this voluntary goal and will lower our power needs by more than 3,000 MW by 2030, enough electricity to power 375,000 Virginia homes.
Energy efficiency would not only save money for families and businesses, it would create jobs across the Commonwealth. Through aggressive development of our energy efficiency potential, Virginia could create 10,000 new jobs by 2025, adding a potential $900 million to Virginia’s economy.