Maryland codifies its march toward greater energy efficiency
Last month, the General Assembly of Maryland took a bold step that demonstrates how best to use and pay for the energy it needs. On April 7, 2017, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan allowed that bold step to become law.
The state’s legislature extended and codified EmPOWER Maryland, a nine year old initiative that works toward meeting a two percent annual energy savings target. VEIC applauds the General Assembly for now making EmPOWER and its savings targets a matter of statute across at least the next two years.
The EmPOWER program was created in 2008, with a goal of reducing energy use by 15 percent by 2015. As a result of this legislative action, the program will now be in statute through 2019. In addition to extending Maryland's energy efficiency goals, the bill sets the lifecycle cost of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) for efficiency at 2.6 cents. By comparison, utility standard offers in Maryland range from 6.2 cents to 9.3 cents per kWh.
VEIC has been working under contract with the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel (OPC) since 2011, providing expert review and comments on the EmPOWER Maryland portfolio. VEIC has supported the OPC’s efforts to make sure the delivery and design of its energy efficiency programs protect ratepayer interests by delivering cost-effective and administratively efficient program services.
Historically, VEIC worked with the OPC to introduce and support the two percent savings target approved by the Maryland Public Service Commission and now codified by this law. Passage of the 2 percent target recognizes the ongoing potential and value of efficiency as a resource for Maryland. It also will provide programmatic stability, which will encourage enhanced planning, coordination, and delivery of cost-effective long-term savings for Maryland’s utility ratepayers.
Since its creation, energy efficiency programs operating under EmPOWER have deployed efficiency measures that will save customers more than $4 billion through the lifespan of the program. Their work has also accounted for preventing 19 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Extending the EmPOWER programs out to 2020 is expected to save Maryland residents and businesses $11.7 billion and reduce electricity consumption by 130 billion kWh.