WASHINGTON, D.C. – Energy efficiency plays a pivotal role in keeping America’s economy moving forward, PG&E’s chief customer officer said in an appearance before a Congressional committee today (Feb. 26).
“By investing in energy efficiency, modernizing our nation’s energy system, and educating businesses and consumers on available options and technologies, we have an opportunity to get more value out of every dollar consumers and business spend on energy, creating savings that can be used in other productive ways,” said Helen Burt, who is also a PG&E senior vice president.
Burt’s testimony came before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power. The hearing focused on “American Energy Security and Innovation: An Assessment of Private-Sector Successes and Opportunities in Energy Efficient Technologies.”
PG&E’s energy-efficiency efforts, including working with customers, retailers, contractors and product manufacturer, have resulted in savings of more than $20 billion and avoided more than 180 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, she said. That means that approximately 25 large power plants haven’t needed to be constructed.
“In fact, in 2011 alone, PG&E’s programs saved 270 MW of electricity and 33.2 million therms of natural gas,” Burt said. “These results helped save customers more than $262 million on their energy bills and avoided the emissions of nearly 840,000 metric tons of GHG.”
Other utilities offer similar programs. And, once technology is combined with efficiency, the result will be a smarter electric grid. PG&E customers already can use a Green Button to monitor their energy usage. And web developers are creating apps that make Green Button information more relevant and useful.
Around the country, more the 36 million customers have access to the Green Button tool, Burt said.
Additionally, Burt testified:
- PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center provides hands-on courses and information to architects, engineers and contractors so that they will have updated information on energy-efficient products and building techniques.
- PG&E’s demand-response programs, such as SmartAC, are helping to shave power demands when grid use is at its highest.
- That coordination with the state of California in aligning incentives with efficiency gains and encouraging public-private partnerships has proven effective.
- Administration programs such as the Energy Star and the Better Building’s Utility Ally encourage innovation and collaboration.
Burt concluded: “As PG&E and California have demonstrated, energy efficiency can help save money, spur innovation, provide consumers with more choices, make our economy more productive and benefit the environment. While there has been tremendous progress nationally over the last several decades, there are significant opportunities to do more.”
Burt’s panel included representatives from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Brookings Institution and others. Burt’s full testimony is available here.
In questioning from U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton), Burt talked about how PG&E’s Energy Training Center in Stockton has been training contractors and others on energy-efficient products and techniques since 1978.