Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Go Green and Save Money


Published: August 22, 2007


Have your eyes recently popped out of your head when you opened your electric bill? Do you, like me, live in one of those states where electricity has been deregulated and the state no longer oversees the generation price so your utility rates have skyrocketed since 2002?


If so, you need to listen to a proposal being aired by Jim Rogers, the chairman and chief executive of Duke Energy, and recently filed with the North Carolina Utilities Commission. (Duke Energy is headquartered in Charlotte.) It’s called “save-a-watt,” and it aims to turn the electricity/utility industry upside down by rewarding utilities for the kilowatts they save customers by improving their energy efficiency rather than rewarding them for the kilowatts they sell customers by building more power plants.

Mr. Rogers’s proposal is based on three simple principles. The first is that the cheapest way to generate clean, emissions-free power is by improving energy efficiency. Or, as he puts it, “The most environmentally sound, inexpensive and reliable power plant is the one we don’t have to build because we’ve helped our customers save energy.”

Second, we need to make energy efficiency something that is as “back of mind” as energy usage. If energy efficiency depends on people remembering to do 20 things on a checklist, it’s not going to happen at scale.

Third, the only institutions that have the infrastructure, capital and customer base to empower lots of people to become energy efficient are the utilities, so they are the ones who need to be incentivized to make big investments in efficiency that can be accessed by every customer.


The only problem is that, historically, utilities made their money by making large-scale investments in new power plants, whether coal or gas or nuclear. As long as a utility could prove to its regulators that the demand for that new plant was there, the utility got to pass along the cost, and then some, to its customers. Mr. Rogers’s save-a-watt concept proposes to change all of that.

“The way it would work is that the utility would spend the money and take the risk to make its customers as energy efficient as possible,” he explained. That would include installing devices in your home that would allow the utility to adjust your air-conditioners or refrigerators at peak usage times. It would include plans to incentivize contractors to build more efficient homes with more efficient boilers, heaters, appliances and insulation. It could even include partnering with a factory to buy the most energy-efficient equipment or with a family to winterize their house.

“Energy efficiency is the ‘fifth fuel’ — after coal, gas, renewables and nuclear,” said Mr. Rogers. “Today, it is the lowest-cost alternative and is emissions-free. It should be our first choice in meeting our growing demand for electricity, as well as in solving the climate challenge.”

Because energy efficiency is, in effect, a resource, he added, in order for utilities to use more of it, “efficiency should be treated as a production cost in the regulatory arena.” The utility would earn its money on the basis of the actual watts it saves through efficiency innovations. (California’s “decoupling” systems goes partly in this direction.)

At the end of the year, an independent body would determine how many watts of energy the utility has saved over a predetermined baseline and the utility would then be compensated by its customers accordingly.

“Over time,” said Mr. Rogers, “the price of electricity per unit will go up, because there would be an incremental cost in adding efficiency equipment — although that cost would be less than the incremental cost of adding a new power plant. But your overall bills should go down, because your home will be more efficient and you will use less electricity.”

Once such a system is in place, Mr. Rogers added, “our engineers would wake up every day thinking about how to squeeze more productivity gains out of new technology for energy efficiency — rather than just how to build a bigger transmission or distribution network to meet the growing demands of customers.” (Why don’t we think about incentivizing U.S. automakers the same way — give them tax rebates for save-a-miles?)

That is how you produce a more efficient energy infrastructure at scale. “Universal access to electricity was a 20th century idea — now it has to be universal access to energy efficiency, which could make us the most energy productive country in the world,” he added.

Pulling all this off will be very complicated. But if Mr. Rogers and North Carolina can do it, it would be the mother of all energy paradigm shifts.

Maureen Dowd is off today.

8 comments:

adamsmom06 said...

While this article is very informative, it is a little scary, as I live in a state that has not yet, but will soon have no regulation on electric. Thanks for the information. I came across this looking for ways to save money and the environment. I found other great tips here .

Jerry said...

cheap wedding gowns,
discount bridal gowns,
China wedding dresses,
discount designer wedding dresses,
China wedding online store,
plus size wedding dresses,
cheap informal wedding dresses,
junior bridesmaid dresses,
cheap bridesmaid dresses,
maternity bridesmaid dresses,
discount flower girl gowns,
cheap prom dresses,
party dresses,
evening dresses,
mother of the bride dresses,
special occasion dresses,
cheap quinceanera dresses,
hot red wedding dresses

Anonymous said...

Replica Handbags
Fake Handbags
Knockoff Handbags

Replica Louis Vuitton Handbags
Replica Gucci Handbags
Replica Chanel Handbags
Prada Handbags
Replica Fendi Handbags
Replica Dolce Gabbana Handbags
Replica Chloe Handbags
Replica Jimmy Choo Handbags
Replica Thomas Wylde Handbags
Replica MiuMiu Handbags

Replica Balenciaga Handbags
Replica Coach Handbags
Replica Lancel Handbags
Replica Hermes Handbags
Replica Marc Jacobs Handbags
Replica Anya Hindmarch Handbags
Replica YSL Handbags
Replica Mulberry Handbags
Replica Givenchy Handbags
Replica Valentino Handbags
Replica Versace Handbags
Replica Cartier Handbags
Replica Marni Handbags
Replica Bottega Veneta Handbags
Replica Loewe Handbags
Replica Kooba Handbags

Replica Bally Handbags
Replica Burberry Handbags
Replica Christian Dior Handbags
Replica Juicy Couture Handbags
Replica Ferragamo Handbags
Replica Celine Handbags

Adi said...

Oes Tsetnoc one of the ways in which we can learn seo besides Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa. By participating in the Oes Tsetnoc or Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa we can improve our seo skills. To find more information about Oest Tsetnoc please visit my Oes Tsetnoc pages. And to find more information about Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa please visit my Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa pages. Thank you So much.
Oes Tsetnoc | Semangat Mengembalikan Jati Diri Bangsa

Anonymous said...

I'm the kind of hombre who passions to taste different stuff. Presently I'm constructing my hold pv panels. I am doing it all by myself without the assistance of my men. I am utilizing the net as the only way to acheive this. I encountered a truly brilliant website that explains how to make photovoltaic panels and so on. The web site explains all the steps needed for solar panel construction.

I am not really sure bout how accurate the information given there iz. If some people over here who had experience with these works can have a peak and give your feedback in the site it would be awesome and I'd extremely appreciate it, cauze I truly love solar panel construction.

Thanks for reading this. U people rock.

Anonymous said...

hotels worldwide
[url=http://vimeo.com/user4498961]lowest prices hotels
[/url]booking classes
conservatism caste h
meridian ten airlines
[url=http://www.earthday.org/users/48490]hotel weddings
[/url]cheap breakfast
umich box
hotels and resorts
[url=http://www.fairview.org/cty/members/klemot/default.aspx]booking a hotel
[/url]airline booking
brevity smooth
rom motor hotel
[url=http://www.youthcabinet.org/profile/Josh]search hotels by price
[/url]prices for the purpose guest-house
leading birth publicize go
uga habitation
[url=http://www.beautyresearch.com/blogs/alexa/archive/2010/08/15/hotels-and-accomodations.aspx]pensione hotel
[/url]cheap flights to
b & b deals in
hotels discounts
[url=http://www.mazdacommunity.com/profiles/blogs/special-hotel-offers-or]hotel etoiles
[/url]railways
outspoken flights to
house stay

Anonymous said...

charme motor hotel
[url=http://vimeo.com/user4498961]booking for hotel
[/url]b and b
egypt bed booking
to descendants
[url=http://www.earthday.org/users/48490]cheap hotels near disneyland
[/url]emergency habitation
base tame
tourist house booking canada
[url=http://www.fairview.org/cty/members/klemot/default.aspx]booking a hotel
[/url]valentines light of day guest-house deals
leave of absence home
bc motor hotel deals
[url=http://www.youthcabinet.org/profile/Josh]jamaica hotel prices
[/url]jal economy class
affordable container apartments
vacation packages deals
[url=http://www.beautyresearch.com/blogs/alexa/archive/2010/08/15/hotels-and-accomodations.aspx]travel hotel cheap
[/url]accomidation deals
reasonable congress alarm
lodges alteration
[url=http://www.mazdacommunity.com/profiles/blogs/special-hotel-offers-or]cheap key west hotels
[/url]how to recoup a trashy dwelling-place
kingfisher brevity rank
b&b lake locale

dfadf said...

Microsoft Office
Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Office 2010 key
Office 2010 download
Office 2010 Professional
Microsoft outlook
Outlook 2010
Windows 7
Microsoft outlook 2010