Smart metering and billing among key actions for energy efficiency in U.S.


Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 20, 2008 – The implementation of state-of-the-art efficiency information sharing and delivery systems, including advanced metering and smart grid infrastructure, and establishment of state-of-the-art billing systems are among the key implementation goals for achieving the United States’ energy efficiency vision for 2025.

The National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, “A framework for change,” is aimed at achieving all cost effective energy efficiency by 2025. The efficiency resource available may be able to meet 50 percent or more of the expected load growth over this time frame, similar to meeting 20 percent of electricity consumption and 10 percent of natural gas consumption. The benefits from achieving this magnitude of energy efficiency nationally are estimated at more than $100 billion in lower energy bills in 2025 than would otherwise occur, over $500 billion in net savings, and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Based on over two decades of program experience the broad policy goals to achieve this vision are that energy efficiency needs to be valued similarly to supply options, and utilities and investors need to be financially interested in saving energy. State activity is key in this transformation of energy supply and delivery, including updating and enforcing codes and standards to ensure that savings are captured as new buildings and products enter the system. Customers must also have the proper incentives to make investments in cost effective energy efficiency.

Based on these policies the plan presents ten implementation goals for states, utilities, and other stakeholders to achieve the plan’s vision. Among these are to establish cost effective energy efficiency as a high priority resource, to develop processes to ensure that efficiency and supply resources are on a level playing field, and to establish effective energy efficiency delivery mechanisms. State policies to ensure robust energy efficiency practices should be developed and customer pricing and incentives to encourage investment in energy efficiency aligned. Cost effectiveness tests and evaluation and verification mechanisms should also be established.

The plan notes that as of December 31, 2007, five states had adopted smart metering and smart grid policies totally while 29 states had adopted such policies partly.

In a separate development the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Edison Electric Institute (EEI) have addressed a letter to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) urging commissioners to go beyond simply removing disincentives to greater efficiency gains to creating a regulatory environment in which power companies can build and maintain “a durable business case for utility involvement in end-use energy efficiency.”

Among other actions state utility regulators are recommended to join NRDC, EEI and others in a nationwide energy efficiency campaign to educate the public about energy efficiency and strengthen the nation’s energy efficiency delivery infrastructure.

Regulators are also recommended to support significantly enhanced utility investments in smart metering and smart grid technologies aimed at delivering new energy management tools to customers, to promote the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and other new technologies, and to support substantially higher levels of utility investment in joint research, development and deployment initiatives.