Let’s celebrate energy efficiency

By: 
Guest Commentary, AARON KANE, Arizona Public Interest Research Group

Aaron Kane
Arizona Public Interest Research Group

Energy Efficiency Day (Oct. 5) celebrates and recognizes energy efficiency as the quickest, cheapest and cleanest way to address our growing energy needs. With technological advances and increased energy consciousness, consumers now have more ways than ever to make our homes and businesses more efficient, reduce our energy usage and save money on our electric bills.

With last year’s Arizona Public Service Co. rate hike and another rate increase recently proposed, it’s important to have increased opportunities to manage and save money on our electric bills. The Arizona Corporation Commission, which approved the APS rate increase, can help ratepayers through restoring and increasing funding for energy-saving programs, not just on Energy Efficiency Day, but throughout the year, as well.

What makes energy efficiency worth celebrating?

As the quickest, cheapest and cleanest energy resource, energy efficiency is good for our pocketbooks. Other energy options cost three to 10 times more. Energy efficiency has created more than 40,000 good-paying jobs in Arizona — ramping up as needed in local communities across our state and bringing benefits to the local economy. Since many of the jobs are in hands-on fields such as installation, they cannot easily be outsourced.

Energy efficiency is a smart investment. From 2010 to 2017, every $1 of ratepayer investment in energy efficiency by APS and Tucson Electric Power returned close to $4 in benefits to ratepayers. Those benefits can be attributed to the reduced need to build new power plants and power lines. All Arizonans experienced those benefits — whether or not they participated directly in programs.

At a time when many ratepayers are experiencing high electric bills, energy efficiency programs and rebates — such as programmable thermostats and more efficient A/C units — provide opportunities to save money. In addition to reducing bills, energy efficiency can decrease congestion on the electric grid and alleviate the need to build more costly capital-intensive power plants.

To realize the benefits of energy efficiency, the Arizona Corporation Commission needs to restore and increase funding for APS’ and TEP’s energy-saving programs.

APS and TEP ratepayers want more, not fewer, ways to save money and energy and the Arizona Corporation Commission is the entity to make that happen.

In the meantime, there are ways to take advantage of programs APS still offers. You can find more on the APS website from a $30 rebate for installing a smart thermostat to assistance programs for low-income customers.

Energy efficiency programs allow us to continue to keep our homes just as cool, our lights just as bright, and our showers just as hot while also using less energy and saving money. This Energy Efficiency Day, let’s celebrate all energy efficiency has to offer.

Aaron Kane is the Field Associate with the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on issues in the public interest.

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