AUSenergy News Update 06/23/2015
Jun 23, 2015

In today’s AUSenergy News Update: PG&E challenges communities to “power down,” Efficiency gains moderate price increases under Clean Power Plan, and How utilities can manage time-of-use rates.

Pacific Gas and Electric challenging communities to power down

Summary: Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has launched a new program in collaboration with interested cities, “Step Up and Power Down” – an energy savings movement empowering businesses to encourage individual smart energy choices. For San Francisco, over the course of the 18-month initiative, “Step Up and Power Down” is projected to help the city achieve 20 million kilowatt hours (kWh) in energy savings. If they succeed in achieving the energy savings goals, S.F. will receive a community award of $1 million, donated by PG&E shareholders, to reinvest in city-approved efforts focused on increasing sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

AUS Comment: It’s good to see a utility working to reduce energy use and promote sustainability. We applaud PG&E for their efforts and encourage other utilities to embrace saving energy and sustainable actions instead of trying to suppress change.

Efficiency gains will moderate price increases under Clean Power Plan

Summary: The Obama administration’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases will force power prices higher, but energy conservation will mitigate the impacts along with “price-induced conservation,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

AUS Comment: Sure, prices will rise at first, but that makes the pursuit of energy efficiencies an even greater incentive for businesses and residents; providing a means to permanently lower those rising energy costs.

New DOE report outlines how utilities can best manage and market time-of-use rates

Summary: Researchers studied time-of-use (TOU) offerings from 10 utilities to understand which techniques worked best. The ability to send customers more accurate pricing signals has consistently shown to result in more reliable load shifting to off-peak hours.

AUS Comment: Rate-based demand management programs could be the ‘product’ that helps utilities find their way in the new energy landscape that so threatens the current utility business model. But it will depend largely on the rate design, and if utilities have a large enough differential between peak and off-peak rates for customers to see enough cost difference to make shifting their time-of-use worthwhile. Old habits are hard to break and the only incentive will be cost savings for customers.

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