A role for an energy efficiency utility
March 3, 2016
I have often pondered the intrinsic conflict of asking an electricity or gas utility to deliver a program that reduces their customers’ consumption of electricity or gas, respectively.
It’s like asking a coffee shop to sell less coffee to save on coffee beans.
Of course, the regulator allows the utility to recoup their lost revenue through increased rates and presumably by lowering demand it takes pressure of building expensive new supply which benefits the system as a whole. It is challenging though in a fragmented system to make it all work.
Nova Scotia has tackled this contradiction by creating Canada’s first energy efficiency utility (Efficiency Nova Scotia). They have made efficiency and conservation activities a competitive supply to the electricity system. A municipally-owned energy efficiency utility would do the same and has been proposed in several community energy plans.
It will be interesting to see how this different approach might serve to drive deeper efficiency gains.