Stagnation reported on energy efficiency programs of nation’s utilities

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A new study of the efforts of electricity utilities to help customers reduce energy consumption along with their monthly bills found they have “stagnated.”

Oklahoma Gas and Electric ranked in the middle of the study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. It was 25 in the study that found there was a nearly 5% decline in efficiency program spending from 2018 to 2021 among the nation’s utilities.

The 53 utilities evaluated in this edition of Utility Scorecard collectively saved 18.7 terawatt-hours of energy in 2021, which is a 5.4% decrease in savings from 2018.

Utility spending on electric energy efficiency programs dropped 4.9% since 2018, contributing to a 19% drop in peak demand reduction. On average, utilities are spending more than 12% of their total efficiency funding on low-income programs.

OG&E, according to the study, spent 1.66% of its revenue on energy effiient programs.

Average low-income energy savings per residential customer have increased 9% since 2018. The savings for OGE’s low income customers averaged $19.22 per customer while the utility’s low income spending totaled $6,077,350 or 17.67% of the company’s total expenditures.

The study also graded utilities for having some disconnection or shutoff program to help the millions who pay a dispropoortionately large share of their incomes on energy bills.

The problem is widespread. American families currently have approximately $16 billion in utility debt, a number that has roughly doubled since 2019 (NEADA 2022). Approximately onethird of the 44 million renter households in the United States were behind on their energy bills in 2021. These conditions have led to an estimated 4.2 million instances of utilities’ shutting off electric service to customers in the first 10 months of 2022.

This situation is likely to worsen, as the price of residential
electricity was 7.5% higher at the end of 2022 than in 2021, and is projected to increase another 3.3% in 2023 (EIA 2023).