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

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PG&E Ranks First in Study of Utility Energy Efficiency Investments

By Jonathan Marshall

PG&E leads the nation’s utilities in total investment in energy efficiency programs, according to a new industry benchmarking report published by Ceres, a coalition of environmental groups and investors focused on sustainability, and M. J. Bradley & Associates, LLC, an advisory firm on environmental issues.

The survey of 50 leading electric utilities shows PG&E devoted nearly twice the resources to efficiency as the next closest utility, and was slightly ahead of Massachusetts Electric in spending on efficiency per megawatt-hour of electricity deliveries. The data are for 2009.

PG&E and Southern California Edison were nearly tied as leaders in incremental energy savings achieved through new investments in efficiency, at just under 2 percent of electricity sales.

Learn more about the California model for energy efficiency

“Energy efficiency provides multiple benefits, from job creation and energy bill savings to air pollution emission reduction benefits.  This benchmarking report illustrates that while some utilities are aggressively pursuing energy efficiency, other utilities need to ramp up their efforts,” said Dan Bakal, director of Electric Power Programs at Ceres.

In keeping with state policy, PG&E gives priority to saving energy when possible rather than building new generation. Many studies have shown efficiency investments to be less expensive, not to mention cleaner, than new power plants. Over the past 35 years, PG&E’s energy efficiency programs have prevented more than 174 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being emitted into the atmosphere.

And last year alone, PG&E’s programs for homes and businesses helped customers save more than $330 million on their electric and gas bills.

Although PG&E continues to lead the nation in efficiency programs, other utilities are increasing their commitments. The new benchmarking study estimates that customer-funded efficiency spending by utilities nationwide will more than double, from $5.4 billion in 2009 to $12.4 billion by 2020.

This story originally appeared on pgecurrents.com.