As one of the fastest growing states in the US, Texas is challenged with increasing its productivity and it can do this by increasing investments in energy efficiency initiatives that can save both residential and commercial users of Texas electricity literally billions of dollars over the next two decades. Seems like an impossible task? According to the American Council for the Energy-Efficient Economy or ACEEE, such proposition is not only possible but completely doable.
In a recent study conducted by the ACEEE called Energy Efficiency Investments as an Economic Productivity Strategy for Texas, energy efficiency programs in the state could reduce Texas electricity consumption by up to 30% by the year 2030, creating savings for electricity users of up to $14 billion within that period. Not only that, energy efficiency initiatives in the state will also boost employment by creating up to 47,000 jobs each year until the projected period of 2030.
The 30% projected reduction in Texas electricity consumption was based on targets set by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) for energy efficiency improvements. Also taken into consideration are the estimates made by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) which handles the energy deregulated areas in the state. However, these projected figures will only be achieved with the expansion of current energy efficiency investments which spans all sectors including commercial, industrial and residential area.
Energy Efficiency Initiatives in Texas
According to the ACEEE study, to meet the growing demands for Texas electricity, the state would have to invest about 6 to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour on new electric generating plants. Energy efficiency provides a better alternative however, as the cost of investments to achieve a 30% gain in efficiency will only cost the state less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour.
For years, energy efficiency programs to reduce electricity consumption in the state have already benefitted Texas residents and businesses as evident in their reduced energy bills. Between 2009 and 2011, the state already benefitted up to $1.5 billion in savings from these energy efficiency programs, which also created up to 12,000 jobs during this same period and reduced emissions by as much as 413 tons per year. By expanding these energy efficiency initiatives, the state will most likely hit its targets by the year 2030.
Texas schools have also benefitted from energy efficiency programs which involved easy investments. A school district with at least 4,000 students can realize savings by as much as $1.6 million in ten years or basically $160,000 savings each year from their Texas electricity bills. Most of the investment funds came from the Texas Loan STAR program for energy efficiency.
City governments have also taken initiatives in reducing energy consumption in their respective areas. In Houston, energy efficiency projects include the use of energy efficient LED traffic lights that would save as much as 85% more Houston electricity than traditional incandescent lamps. Aside from the cost savings, the use of energy efficient lamps also reduces carbon emissions, requires less maintenance and improves overall visibility for each traffic light.
In an energy deregulated Texas electricity market, consumers have the power to select their energy options and apply for grants that would finance their energy efficiency upgrades that would save thousands of dollars from their electricity bills each year. These are basically great investments that would help ensure a clean and sustainable future for all.