Rocky Mountain Power
The Rocky Mountain Power solar plant near Holden, Utah, provides solar energy for the utility company's Subscriber Solar Program, which is 95 percent sold out. The pilot project allows residential and business customers to purchase solar power in blocks, potentially cutting their monthly costs.

Today is Energy Efficiency Day, a nationwide day to recognize and celebrate this abundant, cost-effective energy resource. Energy efficiency is a Utah ethic and a priority for our state. As a community, we save money and use energy resources wisely when we conserve energy, and Utah has a solid track record for energy efficiency. In fact, Utah just gained three spots in the “State Energy Efficiency Scorecard” released last week by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy. Rocky Mountain Power’s energy efficiency program, known as “wattsmart,” helped contribute to this improved ranking.

For more than a decade, Rocky Mountain Power has encouraged its customers to be wattsmart in their homes and businesses, and offered incentives to use energy-efficient technologies such as LED lighting, building controls and efficient heating and cooling systems. And for more than a decade, our community and our utility have reaped the economic and environmental benefits. Since 2008, wattsmart has saved Utahns $1 billion in electricity costs and has helped support a thriving energy-efficiency industry that employs over 30,000 workers in Utah.

That’s all good for you and me, but what’s in it for a utility? As it turns out, energy efficiency investments are highly affordable for the utility and power customers alike. Rocky Mountain Power’s data show that it only costs about three cents for every kilowatt hour saved through its energy efficiency incentive programs, making efficiency on-par or cheaper than many other energy resources. Energy efficiency is a win-win for the utility and our community.

Unfortunately, in its 2017 Integrated Resource Plan, Rocky Mountain Power is now proposing to severely cut the amount of electricity savings achieved through its energy efficiency program. In 2018 alone, it plans to reduce energy savings by a whopping 32 percent compared to the utility’s previous plan. These reductions represent about 111,000 megawatt hours of electricity that could be saved in 2018 alone. This amount of lost electricity savings is equivalent to the annual electricity use of over 12,000 average Utah homes.

At Utah Clean Energy, we’re grateful to Rocky Mountain Power for all it has done to help Utahns reduce energy waste, but we believe that now is not the time to cut back on energy efficiency. So, along with nearly two dozen fellow Utah businesses and organizations, Utah Clean Energy and Architectural Nexus have signed and sent a joint letter to Rocky Mountain Power asking it not to cut future electricity savings.

At Architectural Nexus, we are committed to a vision of a highly energy-efficient built environment that cuts pollution from energy use in buildings. We are one of countless Utah businesses that have utilized energy-efficiency programs to reduce energy waste and cut pollution, all while saving money on energy bills. We certainly hope that other businesses will follow this lead and be able to leverage wattsmart and similar programs to save money and reduce pollution related to power generation.

As we stated in our joint letter to the utility: “Continuing to grow Rocky Mountain Power’s successful wattsmart programs is essential to Utah’s businesses because it helps maintain affordable electricity costs, makes Utah more competitive, while also making wise use of natural resources and decreasing air pollution.”

We thank Rocky Mountain Power for all it has done to help Utah businesses and families save electricity, and we strongly encourage the utility to keep its successful energy-efficiency programs growing, rather than proceeding with cutting electricity savings through its highly successful and impactful wattsmart energy efficiency programs.

Kevin Emerson is the Energy Efficiency Program director for Utah Clean Energy, a local nonpartisan organization that advocates for an energy-efficient, clean energy economy.

Kenner Kingston is president of Architectural Nexus, a local architecture firm specializing in sustainable building design that is housed within Utah’s first Double Platinum LEED building.