Minnesota utilities achieve record energy savings in 2018

Energy efficiency is an integral part of the clean energy equation. The Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), administered by the Department of Commerce, requires utilities to achieve electric and natural gas savings that reduce waste and decrease the energy burden for homes and businesses. Fresh Energy works to maximize energy savings as a resource in our state and we’ve been actively engaged in helping pass the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, encouraging utilities to embrace high-leverage strategies, and engaging as experts to shape the structure of CIP.

In 2007, the Next Generation Energy Act expanded the state’s policies around energy efficiency through goals established in the original Resource Standard. Many utilities have responded by exceeding those goals with cost-effective programs that help customers save money directly on their bill, avoid unnecessary and expensive investments on the grid, and make our system as efficient as possible.

Based on reports filed in April with the Department of Commerce, Minnesota’s three electric investor-owned utilities (IOUs)—Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power—made big electricity savings 2018. Since these utilities represent about two-thirds of the electricity provided throughout the state, even an objectively small percentage of savings has a great impact. Some highlights from the filings include:

  • All three electric IOUs significantly exceeded Minnesota’s 1.5 percent annual energy savings goal last year, delivering cost-effective energy efficiency to customers throughout the state.
    • Xcel Energy achieved 2.35 percent of sales
    • Minnesota Power achieved 2.64 percent of sales
    • Otter Tail Power achieved 4.21 percent of sales
  • These utilities collectively achieved their highest energy savings ever in 2018, growing 148 percent since 2007
  • Savings achieved in 2018 are equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of over 100,000 homes
  • Total net benefits to electric ratepayers (net benefits minus incentives to utilities) over the 12-year history of CIP have exceeded $3.4 billion.

Minnesota’s natural gas distribution utilities—Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy, Minnesota Energy Resource Corporation (MERC), Greater Minnesota Gas, and Great Plains Natural Gas—also filed reports on their savings. Highlights include:

  • Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy, and Greater Minnesota Gas all exceeded Minnesota’s 1.0 percent annual energy savings goal last year, delivering cost-effective energy efficiency to customers throughout the state.
    • Xcel Energy achieved 1.27 percent of sales
    • CenterPoint Energy achieved 1.40 percent of sales
    • MERC achieved .97 percent of sales
    • Greater Minnesota Gas achieved 1.18 percent of sales
    • Great Plains Natural Gas achieved .64 percent of sales
  • Natural gas energy savings have increased 82 percent between 2007 and 2018.
  • Total net benefits to gas ratepayers (net benefits minus incentives to utilities) over the 12-year history of CIP neared $1.8 billion

The data are clear: energy savings is Minnesota’s cheapest and cleanest energy source. Our state’s energy efficiency policies are working and delivering positive results.

In the coming weeks, Fresh Energy will look for opportunities to drive more cost-effective energy savings through these reports, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce will review the filings before issuing final approval of the results.

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