Why Energy Efficiency is Critical for WV
Energy efficiency is an important piece of the solution to a number of problems facing our state. By organizing to promote programs and policies to make West Virginia a more energy efficient state, we can accomplish the following:
1. Save money
Residents, businesses, and industries who invest in energy efficiency save money on their energy bills over the long-term. Most homes and businesses are far less efficient than they could be. Over the long term, energy efficiency helps all customers save money by avoiding the need to invest in expensive new power plants.
2. Increase self-sufficiency and independence
Our rates have gone up in large part due to increasing coal costs and volatility in international coal markets, and fuel costs are continuing to rise. Despite producing 13% of the nation's coal, we are still subject to regional and international market forces that we have no control over. Being more energy efficient helps us be more self-sufficient and secure.
3. Use resources responsibly
In part because of historically low electric rates, we are very wasteful in our use of electricity. West Virginia's residential electricity consumption per person is 40% higher than the national average. Being more energy efficiency means being better stewards of our finite natural resources.
4. Increase transparency of decision-making
Both of West Virginia's major utility companies are planning to purchase existing coal plants from affiliated companies without having adequately evaluated alternatives – even though investing in energy efficiency is a cheaper option. West Virginians need to become organized to have a stronger voice in how energy policy decisions are made.
5. Improve public facilities and schools
Children deserve a healthy and comfortable environment where they can learn – not one in which they have to be sent home when heating and air conditioning systems break, as occurs too often in some parts of West Virginia. West Virginia has under-invested in maintaining and improving the energy efficiency of our schools and municipal buildings. This means that significant public money is wasted each year on energy bills and children suffer from an uncomfortable learning environment.
6. Reduce air pollution and climate change damages
Investing in energy efficiency to reduce demand for electricity is a necessary step in reducing air pollution and pollutants that cause climate change. Lowering demand for power means that the least economical coal plants – which are typically the most polluting – will be the first to stop running.