Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Releases Annual Report on Energy Efficiency in the Southeast

A powerline utility pole.

Energy Efficiency is a proven clean energy resource that has a critical role to play in helping reduce our region’s persistently high energy bills and cutting carbon emissions that worsen the climate crisis, threaten public health, and damage our environment.

Electric utility energy efficiency programs offset the need for traditional fossil fuel power plants and are key to reducing utility system costs paid by customers on their monthly electric bills. Sadly, however, electric utilities and regulators in the Southeast consistently underinvest in this abundant low-cost energy efficiency resource. Instead, utilities in our region continue to rely on expensive, outdated fossil fuel power plants – including 53 GW of coal-powered generators – and are even proposing construction of new ones. As a result, when compared to other regions in the US, the Southeast remains at the bottom of national efficiency rankings.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s (SACE) Energy Efficiency in the Southeast 2019 Annual Report utilizes data collected from 2018 to explore energy efficiency trends, identify policies and practices impacting energy efficiency savings for the region, and offer solutions for implementing this underutilized resource. By examining utility efficiency program savings, the organization’s second annual report unveils which of our region’s utilities are cost-effectively eliminating unnecessary energy waste, and which are simply selling more power.

The full report is available as a free download alongside a webinar on the report.

2018 UTILITY HIGHLIGHTS

Just a handful of utility systems make up the majority of energy savings in the Southeast. The utility systems displayed below accounted for approximately 99% of energy efficiency savings in 2018. To compare and contrast the performance of these utilities, SACE collects and analyzes detailed program savings data from annual reports and official filings submitted to regulators. By examining each utility’s energy efficiency program savings as a percentage (%) of the previous year’s annual sales, it becomes easier to see how utilities of different sizes view energy efficiency as a resource.

The utility systems displayed above accounted for approximately 99% of energy efficiency savings in 2018.

 

So, how did Southeast utilities stack up in 2018?

Duke Energy was again the clear regional leader and the only electric utility to deliver annual efficiency savings (0.79%) that exceeded the national average (0.71%). This achievement is supported by three key factors:

  1. Favorable policies in the Carolinas
  2. Company staff and management leadership with extensive multi-state experience
  3. Duke’s willingness to work with energy efficiency advocates to improve and expand program offerings, which is unrivaled in the region.

Duke Energy Carolinas, operating in North and South Carolina, continues to be the only utility in the Southeast to exceed one percent annual savings (1.03%), a symbolic checkpoint on the path toward the higher savings levels achieved by successful utilities in other parts of the country. Duke Energy Progress (0.86%), also operating in North and South Carolina, was also head-and-shoulders above the next major Southeastern utility energy efficiency leader. State policy differences meant far lower savings for Duke Energy Florida (0.21%).

Next in line, Georgia Power (0.48%) and Tampa Electric (0.40%) both exceeded the Southeast regional average (0.31%), but fell short of the national average (0.71%).

All other major Southeastern utility systems are substantially underperforming. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) continues to drive efficiency savings downward for the states and utilities it serves (0.17%), and the Southeast’s largest utility, Florida, Power & Light (FPL), produced a trivial (0.08%) efficiency savings for its more than 4 million customers.

Please visit cleanenergy.org/blog/energy-efficiency-in-the-southeast-2019-annual-report/ to view additional facts and highlights.

Written by Forest Bradley-Wright and Heather Pohnan, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.