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Energy-Efficiency Program Likely to Survive Regulatory Challenge

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks West Virginia 47th among states in terms of energy efficiency. (Pixabay)
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranks West Virginia 47th among states in terms of energy efficiency. (Pixabay)
December 11, 2017

CHARLESTON, W. Va. – An important West Virginia energy efficiency program looks likely to survive a challenge at the Public Service Commission.

PSC staff had questioned the cost effectiveness of the program that American Electric Power runs for consumers of Allegheny Energy and Wheeling Power.

But Emmett Pepper, executive director of Energy Efficient West Virginia, says his group and the utility have told the PSC they want to keep the program and even expand it.

Pepper says when the utility helps people reduce their power bills through things such as better insulation and more efficient bulbs, it's proving to be a good investment for everyone, including the company.

"This is a very cost-effective way for them to meet the energy requirements, and it's also a way to have a better, more robust electrical system,” he states. “And they're looking to continue to expand those programs, because they're finding that they're working."

West Virginia comes in near the bottom in most state energy-efficiency rankings. Pepper says improving that could save consumers money while making them more comfortable.

He says the utilities are finding it cheaper to reduce demand than to build more generating capacity, which saves money, even for ratepayers who don't participate in these programs.

Plus, he says it's a good form of economic development.

"It will also help diversify our economy,” he points out. “Making energy efficiency upgrades are good construction jobs, that we need here in West Virginia – jobs that are literally created out of thin air."

The issue is still before the PSC, but Pepper says the parties have asked for a delay to negotiate a compromise.

The program is largely the result of proposals made by Energy Efficient West Virginia during PSC consideration of a 2009 rate increase.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV