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Maryland regulators approved about $95 million in funding requests on November 19th for energy-efficiency programs run by utilities, including nearly $47 million aimed at Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers. However, utilities are being heckled for not meeting goals fast enough.
The approved funding is for EmPOWER Maryland, a state effort to reduce electricity use by helping residents and businesses make their properties do more with less. It includes such programs as efficiency check-ups for homes, rebates for purchasing more efficient appliances and incentives to reduce the cost of business improvements.
Maryland ranks among the most aggressive states on energy efficiency, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). But the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (MD PIRG)warned last week that the state is not on pace to reach its goal of reducing per-capita electricity use by 15 percent no later than 2015, compared with 2007 levels.
“Collectively, these utilities have achieved 50% of the 2015 EmPOWER Maryland energy savings goal and 52% of the 2015 EmPOWER Maryland peak demand reduction goal, an increase of 9 percentage points and 1 percentage point, respectively, from where they were in relation to the goals at the end of 2012,” the commission wrote.
Maryland’s Public Service Commission (MD PSC) pointed to the gap in its funding-approval order and asked utilities to make a “renewed commitment” to the program.
“We take the EmPOWER goals seriously and with a sense of urgency to ensure the ratepayers of Maryland can benefit from the cost savings achievable through energy efficiency and demand response programs,” the commissioners wrote. “Accordingly, we order the Utilities to effectively and aggressively execute the programs associated with the additional funding.”
Regulators noted that through the second quarter of 2013, the utilities reported customer savings of 2,729,390 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity and 1,097 MW of peak demand reduction as a result of EmPOWER Maryland programs.