Over 50% of all energy produced in the United States is wasted, not only due to loss in transmission but also to poor insulation, drafty windows, and outdated light bulbs. Reducing wasted energy is critical if we want to make electricity more affordable for all of us. That’s where energy efficiency comes in.
Critics of energy efficiency like to claim that the upfront investment in energy efficiency is too large to justify the savings that would follow, but that’s just not true. For example, the energy efficiency methods necessary to save a kilowatt hour of electricity (also known as a negawatt) cost about 3x less than producing a kilowatt hour. I don’t have to tell you that a 66% discount on electricity is a good deal.
The facts show that Energizing Indiana brought the benefits of energy efficiency to Hoosiers across Indiana. In its first two years of existence, the program had saved enough electricity to power 83,681 homes for an entire year. Every dollar spent on the program returned two dollars in energy savings; in 2013, that amounted to more than $80 million saved.
Businesses certainly understood the value that comes with the long-term planning and investment encompassed by this program. Energizing Indiana saved 25x more electricity than the all of the energy efficiency programs implemented by the state’s utilities before 2012. And the real benefits of the program hadn’t even begun; by 2020, Energizing Indiana was expected to decrease annual energy consumption in Indiana by 2%.
So why did Indy lawmakers decide to end this program, and why didn’t Governor Pence stop them? They claimed the cost of Energizing Indiana was too high, even though the average Indiana ratepayer paid just $2 per month to keep the program running. That’s less than a cup of coffee! On the other hand, Indiana politicians have been unsurprisingly mum on the 15% increase on electricity bills necessary to pay for a coal plant in Edwardsport.
The facts show that Energizing Indiana was working. Saving energy is a process that requires long-term vision. It remains to be seen if Indiana politicians will find the willpower to implement another energy efficiency program. Ratepayers in the Hoosier state no doubt hope so.