Austin, TX, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 5, 2009 – Texas could reduce its peak electric usage by around 23 percent by 2015 through energy efficiency initiatives, according to a recent review of the savings potential of the state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs).

With costs for such programs ranging from 9 cents to 36 cents per household per month but savings ranging from 18 cents to 62 cents, the benefit-cost ratio of such initiatives exceeds two, and the net benefits to the citizens of Texas would range from $4.2 billion to $11.9 billion, the review found.

“In Texas … there is a significant amount of untapped technical and economic potential to reduce electricity use in the IOU service areas,” says the review, which was prepared for the state Public Utilities Commission by Itron. However, it adds: “The goals proposed by the legislature for 2015 can be achieved by the majority of IOUs as long as certain restrictions to the IOUs’ ability to expand and market their energy efficiency programs are removed or mitigated.”

Baseline peak demand is Texas is 65,659 MW and the potential peak demand reduction is 15,309 MW.

According to the review the potential savings by IOUs range from 14 percent for Texas New Mexico Power up to 25 percent for Centerpoint. Most of this variation is driven by the potential to reduce air conditioning in utilities with relatively high cooling loads.

However, it will be easier for some of the larger utilities to achieve the proposed energy savings goals than the smaller utilities. The main reason for this is the development in the state of goals based on a percentage of incremental load growth rather than goals based on other metrics, such as total system demand or electricity consumption. If the saving metrics were changed to a percentage of total peak demand most, if not all the utilities, have a better chance of meeting the savings goals. Under this approach the goals recommended are 0.3 percent of peak demand in 2010 and 0.6 percent of peak demand in 2015.

In 2007 the average program performance for the current statewide programs was 0.18 percent of peak demand, equivalent to 138 MW of peak savings.

As the likely effective date of any change to the current peak demand and energy saving goals would be early in 2010, leaving utilities less than 12 months to ramp up savings from current savings levels, the review suggests postponing the effective date of the new “30% of incremental growth” standards to December 31, 2011 or 2012, or alternatively reformulating the savings metric.

The review also finds that the incremental costs of making high voltage customers eligible for the programs are less than the value of capturing the annual energy savings from these customers – an additional 800 GWh to 2,400 GWh per year by 2015. In addition a concerted effort to raise general awareness and provide more specific targeted marketing will increase the level of energy and dollar savings in Texas.