Utilities Commission to take a look at NC SAVE$

The North Carolina Utilities Commission opened a docket on Aug. 20 to consider a statewide energy-efficiency program which would be established independently from utility companies. Opponents of Duke Energy’s Save-a-Watt program, which is still under consideration by the Utilities Commission, say an independent push for statewide energy conservation would be more effective than a program led by Duke or other utility companies, who have an incentive to sell more power.

Dubbed NC SAVE$, the alternative energy-efficiency plan was put forth by a statewide coalition of environmental and social-justice organizations led by Clean Water for North Carolina, a statewide nonprofit. (Xpress spotlighted a report that was released on this topic in July of 2007.)

Critics of Save-a-Watt say the system would allow Duke to reap disporportionately high benefits for relatively small steps toward energy conservation. “There’s no excuse for putting up with the inherent conflicts of interest in utility administration of energy-efficiency programs, the lack of transparency or cost effectiveness for ratepayers,” says Hope Taylor, executive director of CWFNC. “If we have to pay the kind of profits to investors that ‘Save A Watt’ was asking for, we’ll never achieve the energy and greenhouse gas reductions we need so urgently.” But Duke has publicly defended the program, with company CEO Jim Rogers characterizing it as “the most ambitious energy-efficiency program in the world,” according to a recent article in Raleigh’s News & Observer.

Taylor will provide an in-depth explanation of independent energy-efficiency programs during the Southern Energy and Environment Expo, which begins at noon on Friday, Aug. 22, at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher.

The Commission will take comments on the NC SAVE$ proposal through Sept. 5. To view the docket, go here.

— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor


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