LANSING – Energy waste reduction programs have saved nearly 1.6 million megawatt hours of electricity and more than 5.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the Michigan Public Service Commission’s annual report, released Friday.
The 2017 Utility Energy Waste Reduction Programs report found 64 electric companies (investor-owned, cooperatives, and municipalities) spent a total of $220.5 of EWR programs, and gas utilities spent $88.1 million.
The $308.6 million spent is expected to save customers nearly $1.1 billion over the 12-year lifecycle of EWR efforts adopted in 2017. For every dollar spent on these programs, customers can realize estimated savings of $3.51.
Energy waste reduction programs cost utilities an average of $16.23 per megawatt hour, compared to $55 per megawatt hour for building new generation facilities.
Utilities spent $26.8 million on energy waste reduction programs for qualified low-income residential customers. The MPSC’s EWR Low Income Workgroup, comprised of state agencies, utilities, and outside groups, began its work in early 2018. It’s goal is to develop initiatives to reduce energy costs for Michigan’s low income customers and communities.
The Commission also established an energy waste reduction collaborative that includes all natural gas and electric providers and stakeholders to find ways to improve EWR plans.
The MPSC last year approved rules that allow rate-regulated utilities to establish programs to fund residential energy waste reduction projects. Customers can pay for the home improvements in monthly installments on their utility bills, known as on-bill financing.
Michigan’s EWR standard, created in 2008 and amended in 2016, requires all natural gas and electric utility providers to implement customer programs to lower energy usage to reduce the future cost of service.