"Energy Efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability." Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation

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California Reaps the Energy Efficiency Dividend

By Jonathan Marshall

Furniture maker Tim Hanson, left, shows PG&E’s Dave Bond how new lighting helped his small business. (Currents Archive Photo.)

Furniture maker Tim Hanson, left, shows PG&E’s Dave Bond how new lighting helped his small business. (Currents Archive Photo.)

What’s the cheapest source of electricity? Almost always it’s the kilowatt-hour of energy you save through better efficiency rather than buy. For Californians, the value of that lesson has been proven time and again over the past 40 years.

A recent blog post by Lara Ettenson at the Natural Resources Defense Council credits the state’s electric utilities and their partners with being “major drivers in energy efficiency initiatives for decades, offering a variety of programs to help the 38 million Californians cut energy waste.”

Their collective investment of a billion dollars annually has reduced energy usage enough in just the past two years “to save customers an impressive $850 million on their energy bills after accounting for costs,” she adds. “The energy savings are also more than enough to power all of the homes in the County of Fresno and cut the same amount of carbon pollution that comes from more than 300,000 cars.”

The savings have also been enough to eliminate the need for building about 30 sizeable power plants—and are projected over the next two decades to avoid the need for another 10.

Ettenson credits PG&E with helping customers save about one and a quarter percent of electricity sales, a level matched by few other utilities throughout the state.

Among the PG&E tools she highlights are individually tailored Business Energy Reports, which guide small and medium business customers on their savings journey, and instructional videos that make it easier for them to manage energy. She cites PG&E’s quality maintenance program for commercial heating and cooling systems for saving customers nearly a million dollars a year. She also praises the utility’s Energy House Calls website, which provides lively case studies of how homeowners and renters can save. PG&E also works with other investor-owned utilities on various other statewide energy efficiency programs.

Earlier this year, PG&E’s energy-efficiency programs took top honors in a national listing of “exemplary” programs announced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a leading national organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.

PG&E calculates that its energy efficiency programs have helped avoid more than 180 million tons of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emissions since 1976. For more information on energy efficiency at PG&E and across the state of California, check out PG&E’s website and https://www.caenergyefficiencymodel.com/.

Email Jonathan Marshall at Jonathan.Marshall@pge.com.

This story originally appeared on pgecurrents.com.