Faced with the relentless growing demand for electricity to power Pennsylvania homes and businesses, Harrisburg regulators had an easy decision to make when they added three years to the life of a successful energy-conservation mandate for utilities.
The conservation initiatives provided under the state's Act 129 program, enacted in 2008, saved customers an estimated $278 million a year. The program promoting energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and heating and air-conditioning systems was funded through surcharges on electric bills. Conservation advocates estimate that consumers will realize an $8 savings for every dollar invested.
Just as important, the gains extend beyond cushioning monthly electric bills. Controlling the state's appetite for power helps utilities meet peak demand on the hottest days, trims overall energy costs, and helps stave off the risk of power outages. There are spinoff benefits for air quality, since so much of the state's power still derives from coal. Finally, the demand for engineers, contractors, installers and conservation educators is said to have generated hundreds of jobs.