The $20 Billion Bonanza

Best Practice Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Programs and their Benefits for the Southwest

[SW infographic]

This SWEEP report shows that every dollar invested in utility energy efficiency programs returns more than two dollars in savings on business and household utility bills, with potential to create an economic windfall of $20 billion for six southwestern states.

The report finds that it is feasible to achieve a 21% reduction in electricity by the year 2020 from energy efficiency programs implemented 2010-2020. Reaching this target would save the equivalent of electricity used by 4.6 million typical households in the Southwest and require an investment of $17 billion.  The investment would be split between utilities and their customers and yield a resulting savings on energy purchases along with public health benefits of $37 billion—or a net savings of $20 billion.

Other benefits of fully implementing Best Practice efficiency programs include:

  • Avoid or close 32 large power plants in the region
  • Reduce CO2 emissions from power plants equivalent to taking 6.2 million passenger vehicles off the road by 2020
  • Save 18.5 billion gallons of water per year by 2020 through less power plant operation

The report identifies the most effective utility energy efficiency programs across the country and analyzes the costs and benefits of implementing these programs in the southwestern states of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.  It includes descriptions of the programs, state-by-state analysis, and a roadmap that policymakers can follow to achieve the 21% energy savings goal and benefits by 2020.

Utilities in the Southwest have made considerable progress in helping their customers save electricity. But the report also urges further policy action — from adopting energy savings goals or requirements to allowing utilities to earn a profit when they implement effective energy efficiency programs for their customers.