By Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register, Posted July 28, 2014
Connecticut and Northeast Utilities fared well in two reports focusing on energy efficiency and sales of power from renewable sources.
NU of Hartford ranked eighth among 32 of the nation’s largest electric utilities in the study released Thursday [by Clean Edge, an Oregon research and advisory firm serving the environmental technology sector, and Ceres, a nonprofit working to mobilize businesses to preserve natural resources. The report analyzed 2012 data from about a dozen federal state and industry sources, including annual reports and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission 10-K filings.
Clean Edge also ranks Connecticut as one of the nation’s Top 10 leaders in clean energy in separate report that also was released Thursday.
Connecticut earned its Top 10 ranking because in 2011 it became the first state in the nation to develop a “green bank.”
Green banks use limited amounts of public money to lure larger quantities of private sector investment in clean energy technologies. In addition to reducing public sector or ratepayer funding for renewable energy projects, Connecticut’s goals in creating the green bank included lowering the costs associated with such things as residential solar panel installations.
Connecticut was ranked fifth in clean energy venture capital investment in terms of dollars per capita for 2013, according to Clean Edge.
A total of $71.5 million in venture capital money was invested in Connecticut in 2013, which translates to an average of $19.89 per person. Massachusetts is the leader in that category, attracting more than three times as much clean energy venture capital per capita as Connecticut.
Clean Edge sees a link between NU’s performance and Connecticut’s ranking.
“State and local governments, large corporate and industrial users, and individual customers are increasingly demanding low-carbon, clean energy sources,” Ron Pernick, managing director of Clean Edge, said in a statement. “Tracking the performance of utilities against this backdrop is critical to understanding how policies, market frameworks and new economics are impacting the future of electricity generation and consumption.”
Cumulative annual energy efficiency savings achieved by NU in 2012 were equivalent to 16.46 percent of its annual retail electric sales in 2012, according to Clean Edge.
“It’s become a line of business for us,” Tilak Subrahmanian, NU’s vice president of energy efficiency, said in a phone interview.
Subrahmanian said the utility company, subsidiaries of which include Connecticut Light & Power, puts a lot of research and effort into how it positions its energy efficiency efforts.
“To some consumers, it (energy efficiency) is just not worth saving $10 a month of their electric bill,” he said. “But if you tell them that it (more energy-efficient equipment) will reduce the amount of maintenance, then they become interested. So it’s really important for us to understand the customer.”
Subrahmanian said NU’s residential power customers are becoming much more savvy about clean technology and energy efficiency. While the opportunities for savings available to commercial and industrial customers are much bigger because the volume of electricity they use, some businesses underestimate how much they can save, he said.
“I can tell them from experience that it is 10 times what they think it is,” Subrahmanian said.
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