Too often we hear or read about programs and policies that are not working in Arizona. Or we learn about polarized factions lining up on one end or the other of an issue.
So it was refreshing to read a report from Ceres that ranked Arizona Public Service Company (APS) as the top investor-owned utility in the nation for the amount of electricity it saved in 2012 through its energy efficiency programs for households and businesses.
APS’ top ranking is a direct consequence of state government and a utility working together to provide real benefits for regular consumers and businesses.
In its report, Ceres ranked the 32 largest electric utility holding companies, which collectively account for about 68 percent of 2012 U.S. retail electricity sales. Criteria included renewable energy sales, cumulative energy efficiency savings and incremental energy efficiency savings in 2012, the most recent year for which data were available. Pinnacle West, parent holding company of APS, topped the list for energy savings that year. The report noted that state policies “are a key driver” in the utilities’ performance.
This achievement is very good news for APS and its customers. Energy efficiency programs are cost-effective, they reduce customer utility bills, and they help us save billions of dollars in the long run by avoiding the construction of expensive new power plants and transmission lines to meet future electricity needs.
APS credited Arizona’s energy efficiency goals for its jump in energy efficiency leadership. Though the company has offered programs to its customers since 2006, its manager of energy efficiency programs said that energy savings “ticked up” in 2011 and 2012 after state utility regulators adopted Arizona’s energy efficiency standard.
Arizona’s energy efficiency standard is often praised for being one of the strongest in the country. It was established by the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2010, and requires utilities like APS to achieve
22 percent energy savings by 2020. Since the adoption of the standard, Arizona has advanced from 29th to the 12th most efficient state in country. In addition, individual utilities like APS have become nationally recognized for the energy efficiency programs they offer and the customer benefits those programs deliver.
APS has found that efficiency programs are cost-effective, they build customer satisfaction and that energy savings represent a significant resource that avoids the need to build expensive new power plants, transmission lines and substations.
APS’ customers have taken advantage of utility rebates on energy efficiency products and services that make energy saving upgrades more affordable. As a result, they are better off financially. Customers of APS have saved $689 million in net economic benefits since 2008 through lower utility bills, reduced air pollution and saved water, according to APS’ annual reports.
This is a success story of state regulation and a utility delivering real benefits for Arizona and Arizonans.
— Jeff Schlegel is the Arizona representative for the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, a public policy organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in Arizona and five other states.