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Efficiency cutting New England power use, costs

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm •  Published: December 12, 2012

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Improved energy efficiency will help keep electricity use flat in New England in the next decade, allowing customers to save on utility bills and power companies to scrap costly transmission upgrades, the grid operator said Wednesday.

The region's six states spent $1.2 billion from 2008 to 2011 to boost energy efficiency, ISO-New England told reporters in a briefing. Spending on energy efficiency is expected to increase to $5.7 billion from 2015 to 2021.

The Holyoke, Mass.-based grid operator said energy efficiency has more than doubled since 2008 in an annual auction to win commitments from generators and others for power available three years from now. The result is that electricity use previously projected to rise by 0.9 percent annually between 2012 and 2021 will instead be flat.

The increased efficiency also will help utilities save money by skipping transmission upgrades. ISO said the region can defer 10 transmission upgrades that earlier studies showed were needed to ensure reliability. Deferring the upgrades will save an estimated $260 million, ISO said.

In 2010, New England's six states sponsored more than 125 energy efficiency programs offering financial incentives to promote efficient electrical devices, ISO said.

Stephen J. Rourke, vice president for system planning at ISO, said replacing incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs is the "easiest and least expensive" way to cut energy use. Savings are multiplied as apartments, office buildings, factories, schools, hospitals and other large energy users install efficient heating and air conditioning, he said.

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