Aug 28, 2023 - News

Electric companies' energy efficiency dips

Illustration of the state of Texas combined with an electricity pylon whose power lines are damaged and fallen

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Electric companies aren't conserving as much energy or investing as much in efficiency programs as they were a few years ago, according to a new scorecard by climate advocacy organization American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Driving the news: ACEEE evaluated the conservation efforts of the 53 largest U.S. electric utility companies, including five in Texas.

  • CPS Energy in San Antonio was the highest-ranked Texas company on energy efficiency at 24. North Texas' Oncor was ranked 39.

Why it matters: Energy efficiency is key to meeting increasing power demands on strained grids, especially in extreme weather conditions.

State of play: The state's grid operator asked Texans to conserve energy three times last week due to high power demand.

  • Demand reached an all-time high in the state Aug. 10 at 85,435 megawatts.

Details: The ACEEE scorecard looks at how utility companies invest in energy-efficiency programs, such as weatherization, to help lower energy demand on the larger power grid.

  • The study found that the 53 U.S. utility companies saved 18.7 terawatt-hours of energy in 2021, 5.4% less than they saved in 2018.
  • Spending on energy-efficiency programs also dropped — by 4.9% — compared to 2018.

Zoom in: Oncor scored fairly well in the category measuring how much energy low-income customers saved, which was 25,446 megawatt-hours in 2021.

  • The company, which transports electricity to consumers' retail providers, offers a program for low-income households to get energy-efficient appliances at a low cost or for free. It spent $45.8 million on such programs in 2021.

Yes, but: It's important to note that Oncor is not a power generator in Texas.

The bottom line: Texas ranks 29th nationally in energy efficiency, per ACEEE's metrics.

  • The organization advocates for legislative and power company efforts that help reduce energy use all the time instead of simply asking consumers to turn off the lights and raise the thermostat on an emergency conservation basis during really hot days.

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