OHIO UTILITIES Study touts benefits of efficiency efforts

Energy-efficiency programs would improve Ohio's economy, a new study says.
COLUMBUS -- If Ohio's major natural gas and electric utility companies implement energy-efficiency programs, residential consumers could save about $1.2 billion on their energy bills through decreased consumption by the year 2010, according to a recent study conducted by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The study, which was partially funded by the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel as well as other organizations throughout the Midwest, also notes the significant economic boost in terms of jobs created when energy-efficiency programs are utilized.
Janine Migden-Ostrander of the Consumers' Counsel said that in the wake of rising natural gas prices and the burden it has placed on consumers, Ohio utility companies should offer programs that will allow customers to take control of their energy usage and lower their bills.
"For example ... customers in Ohio who participate in energy-efficiency programs could save on average more than $300 annually on their electric and natural gas bills by the year 2010," Migden-Ostrander said.
ACEEE, a Washington-based nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency to benefit the economy and protect the environment, examined the potential economic benefits to the Midwest from reducing natural gas consumption.
The report shows that by participating in energy-efficiency programs and reducing energy usage by 5 percent, market prices for natural gas would become lower and all customers would benefit by saving money.
Since 2002, wholesale natural gas prices have doubled. By 2006, if energy-efficiency programs are not implemented, customers in the Midwest are expected to spend nearly $40 billion annually to heat their homes and businesses, according to the report.
Energy-efficiency programs could produce residential natural gas savings in Ohio of 1.8 percent in 2006, and would double by 2010 to 3.6 percent, the report shows.
Job creation
The report also predicts that more than 5,000 jobs would be created in Ohio by the year 2010 if energy-efficiency programs were adopted.
The types of programs that contribute to customer savings and job creation include more energy efficient new home construction; rebates on the purchase of furnace and boilers that meet the federal ENERGY STAR standard; and educating contractors to support a comprehensive one-stop shopping experience for customers to implement ENERGY STAR improvements, such as high efficiency heating and cooling equipment, duct work and insulation in existing residences.
The OCC will use information from the ACEEE report to encourage utility companies to implement energy-efficiency programs.
The complete ACEEE report can be viewed on the OCC's Web site at www.pickocc.org.