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Utility, Energy Conservation Net Big Savings in 2008-2009

June 21, 2011


Utility, Energy Conservation Net Big Savings in 2008-2009

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Estimated 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided annually

(ST. PAUL, MN) A recent report from the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources shows just how large of an impact conservation and efficiency measures can have on reducing energy consumption and bettering the environment.

Minnesota's electric and gas utilities achieved substantial energy savings and carbon dioxide reductions in 2008-2009, according to the 2011 CIP Energy and CO2 Savings Report. These savings are thanks to conservation improvement programs (CIPs) that provide rebates and other incentives for customers who make energy-related improvements in their homes and businesses.

From 2008 to 2009, Minnesota's electric utilities invested $246 million in conservation programs, resulting in annual savings of more than 1.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity, or enough electricity to power about 120,000 Minnesota homes for a year. Natural gas utilities invested a total of $41 million in conservation improvement program efforts, resulting in annual savings of over 34 million therms, or enough natural gas to heat 34,000 homes in a year. All of that saved energy translates to an estimated 1.3 million tons of annual avoided carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the emissions of about 260,000 standard automobiles over one year.

"Energy conservation programs help Minnesotans save energy, reduce pollution and the need for costly new power plants and infrastructure, and create jobs for companies that analyze, manufacture and install energy efficiency improvements," said Mike Rothman, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "Minnesota law mandates that each utility in the state, with the exception of the smallest municipal natural gas utilities, operate a conservation improvement program."

Conservation improvement programs offer incentives for a wide variety of energy-related improvements in homes, farms, commercial buildings and manufacturing facilities. Some examples of typical incentive programs include high-efficiency lighting retrofits, incentives for premium-efficiency industrial motors, and incentives for the purchase of ENERGY STAR-labeled furnaces and air conditioners.

"When the average person thinks about reducing carbon, they usually think about renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and solar electric power," said Bill Grant, deputy commissioner of the Division of Energy Resources.  "While often less noticeable, energy efficiency is an important component of an overall carbon-reduction strategy."

Reducing the amount of energy used also reduces the gap between current supplies and expected needs, allowing renewable energy to play a more significant role. Saving energy is almost always less expensive than generating an equivalent amount of new energy.

"This recent report shows that Minnesotans have gotten a great bang for their buck with utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs," Grant said.

The Division of Energy Resources oversees utility conservation plans and tracks program spending and savings results. Beginning in 2010, the state of Minnesota directed utilities to achieve an annual 1.5 percent savings goal, measured as a percent of average retail sales. This is a key component of the Next Generation Act of 2007. The Division of Energy Resources began collecting 2010 conservation improvement program results from utilities in April and will release those results later this year.

A copy of the Minnesota Conservation Improvement Program Energy and Carbon Dioxide Savings Report for 2008-2009 can be found at (Utilities>CIP>Reports>CIP Energy and CO2 Savings Report 2011).