(Photo by Bennett Honson via Creative Commons)
Utility-run efficiency programs have led to reduced energy use by homeowners and other energy customers — as well as lower rates — but some industries want out of the programs.
In Ohio, at the behest of a large number of the state’s industries, lawmakers are considering a bill that would, among other provisions, allow industries to stop participating in efficiency programs of any kind.
In Illinois, a group of large industries has asked Commonwealth Edison to create a pilot program that would allow certain industrial customers to put their efficiency payments into an escrow account, and to use the funds to pay for their own, self-directed efficiency initiatives. Typically, utility customers are required to pay into a fund that finances efficiency improvements throughout the utility’s service area.
And in October, a group of a half-dozen industries failed to persuade the Iowa Utilities Board to exempt them from the efficiency program run by Interstate Power & Light.
The Iowa industries sought an “opt out,” meaning they wouldn’t have to pay for the utility’s efficiency program, and wouldn’t be required to invest in any efficiency efforts on their own, either.
The board told them if they wish to do an end-run around the utility efficiency program, they’ll have to get the legislature’s permission, according to Nathaniel Baer, energy program director for the Iowa Environmental Council, which objected to the industries’ request.
“The question now is whether these industries will go to the legislature with a proposal,” Baer said. “We’ll be watching closely.”