New England States Avert Grid Upgrades Thanks to Energy Efficiency

Need more evidence of the value of energy efficiency initiatives? Consider this recent regional revelation from New England.

Recent energy efficiency measures taken across six states have been so effective that there’s no longer a need to spend $260 million in planned upgrades to transmission towers and power lines, reports ISO-New England, the agency that runs the region’s power grid.

In fact, simple efforts such as swapping out inefficient incandescent light bulbs have actually zeroed out any growth in average annual power use over the next decade. Without those efforts, the agency expected average use of energy to grow 1% a year.

Efficiency programs are ones commonly used, such as giving people rebates when they buy EnergyStar appliances or light bulbs, or upgrade their homes with more insulation.

These programs are expected to cut energy use 1% a year from 2015-2021 in New England, the amount of power it takes to supply 2 million average homes for a month.

“We were surprised at the level, the breadth and depth of the (energy-efficiency) efforts,” says Stephen Rourke, vice president for system planning at ISO-New England.

New England has made energy efficiency a priority and Massachusetts leads the country this year.

The six states covered by ISO-New England spent $1.2 billion on energy efficiency programs from 2008-2011, and they plan to spend another $5.7 billion from 2015-2021.

"As you look forward through time, we’ll move into industrial motors, heating-and-cooling systems, things that you certainly get large savings from, but they’re much more expensive to put in," Stephen Rourke, vice president for system planning for ISO-New England, told the Nashua Telegraph.

On the national level, President Obama signed the energy efficiency bill that Congress recently passed and a House caucus has formed to further efficiency efforts in federal buildings.

Here’s ISO-New England’s presentation:

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