Texas Public Utility Commission staffers are considering new energy efficiency rules that would more than double the requirement of utilities to invest in energy efficiency.
Luke Metzger with Environment Texas says the “strawman” proposal (see below) is similar to the efficiency bill that was almost passed by the Texas Legislature last session:
According to a PUC analysis of that bill, utilities would offset the need for 535 megawatts of electricity in the year 2016 at a cost of $220 million, but with a savings of $411 million. In addition, the rule says utilities “may” (but not shall) invest 10% of efficiency funds to promote solar power.
Texas became the first state in the nation to establish an energy efficiency resource standard in 1999 when it required electric utilities to offset 10 percent of their load growth through end-use energy efficiency — i.e. incentives for companies to switch to more efficient motors, home energy audits and weatherization programs, etc. This was part of the whole electric deregulation package.
The law was so successful, according to ET, that in 2007 the Texas Legislature passed HB 3693 by then-Rep. (now Speaker) Joe Straus, doubling the mandate on utilities to 20 percent of load growth by 2010. It also directed the PUC to study whether increasing the program to 50 percent of load growth is technically possible. Their findings? Yep, and it could save Texans as much $11.9 billion on their electric bills.
The 2009 effort to pass that bill died when a conference committee failed to reconcile differences between two versions of the bill, but in July the PUC said it would take it on administratively.
Here’s the proposed rule:
2009 Nov PUC Efficiency Strawman