Energy Efficiency in Western Utility Resource Plans: Impacts on Regional Resource Assessment and Support for WGA Policies
In the aftermath of the consumer price shocks and short-term power shortages of the 2000–01 electricity crisis, policymakers and regulators in Western states are placing increased emphasis on integrated resource planning (IRP), resource adequacy and assessment and a diversified portfolio of resources to meet the needs of electricity consumers. In some states, high growth in electricity demand, rapid increases in natural gas prices, concerns about the environmental impacts of electricity generation, and the potential to provide utility bill savings for households and businesses have led to renewed state and utility commitments to energy efficiency. At the regional level, the Western Governor's Association (WGA) has set a high priority for energy efficiency, establishing a goal of reducing projected electricity demand in 2020 by 20% in a policy resolution on Clean and Diversified Energy for the West (WGA 2004). Nationally, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) calls for improved tracking of demand-side resources in load forecasts in its recently adopted reliability standards (NERC 2005a and 2005b). In this study, we examine the treatment of electric end-use energy efficiency in recent resource plans issued by fourteen investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the Western United States and Canada. The goals of this study are to:
- summarize energy-efficiency resources as represented in a large sample of recent resource plans prepared by Western utilities and identify key issues;
- evaluate the extent to which the information provided in current resource plans can be used to support region-wide resource assessment and tracking of state/utility progress in meeting the WGA's energy-efficiency goal (WGA 2004); and
- offer recommendations on information and documentation of energy-efficiency resources that should be included in future resource plans to facilitate comparative review and regional coordination.