Why is energy efficiency so important?

Energy Efficiency Benefits All Iowans

Iowa has a proud tradition as a national leader in energy efficiency (EE). We're a thrifty people with a can-do spirit, and we understand the reality and impact of "a penny saved is a penny earned". With energy efficiency, millions saved do represent millions in the pockets of Iowa citizens and communities. Given our proud tradition and decades of success, you might say that energy efficiency is as "Iowan" as motherhood and apple pie!

As far back as the 1970s communities such as Osage, IA were garnering national attention with their energy efficiency and demand management programs, saving their communities millions.

In 1990 the legislature passed and then-governor Branstad signed into law a requirement that Iowa energy utilities develop and implement energy efficiency programs. These programs continue to this day, with review and oversight (to different degree, depending on the utility) provided by the Iowa Utilities Board. Annual EE program reports can be found on that IUB page.

Here are NINE REASONS that policy-directed, ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs are so good for Iowa communities, economies, institutions, households, farms, and businesses:

1. Iowa EE programs are cost-effective, and good policy

By law, the funds collected through bill surcharges are returned directly to rate-payers through EE programs, and those programs have a positive return on investment to rate-payers, and to society. A national study found that through the Iowa programs, saving electricity through efficiency costs just 5 cents per kWh - compare that with the 10-15 cents or more most households, farms and businesses pay for purchased electricity! This is supported by the Iowa Utilities Board finding that EE programs consistently return $2 to ratepayers for every $1 invested: representing an annual savings of hundreds of millions.

2. Energy Efficiency creates jobs

Over 20,000 jobs in Iowa have been created through energy efficiency projects - thousands of which could disappear if Iowa were to back away from our societal commitment to rate-payer funded EE programs, and reverse the trend of keeping hundreds of millions of dollars in local pockets and economies.

3. Energy Efficiency helps to keep electricity affordable

It makes sense that Iowa has some of the lowest electricity rates in the country, given we've had some of the strongest EE programs in the country for a long time! Our EE programs also provide critical funding for Community Action programs such as Weatherization, which helps low to moderate income households make significant energy efficiency improvements.

4. Energy Efficiency carries near-universal approval ratings in Iowa

2014 Iowa survey found:

  • 97% support increasing energy efficiency to meet Iowa's energy needs
  • 82% support increasing utility investment in energy efficiency programs
  • 81% are willing to pay more monthly to ensure more clean energy
  • 84% support candidates that want to create more clean energy jobs

5. Prioritizing continued Iowa leadership in energy efficiency

The Iowa Energy Plan - developed under the leadership of then Lt. Governor and now Governor Reynolds clearly prioritizes leadership in energy efficiency:

  • Statement for policymakers, p12 (bold is in original):
    • "Action taken by the state, or its policy makers, should be consistent with the plan's vision and guiding principles."
  • In the vision statement on p12: "We will continue to embrace energy efficiency, a mix of energy resources, infrastructure, and technologies to position all of Iowa - both rural and urban - for future growth."
  • An objective on p14: "Increase the energy efficiency and decrease the operating costs of Iowa's existing and new buildings in all sectors."

6. Energy Efficiency is stewardship

Iowans are good at stewardship, climate change is real, and according to a 2017 statement signed by 130 Iowa religions leaders, energy efficiency is a critically important tool in reducing our carbon emissions, and protecting our wild life, natural resources, and land community for our younger generations. In fact while renewable energy is great, energy efficiency (doing more with less) is by far the cleanest fuel ever invented.

7. Energy Efficiency is the healthiest fuel!

Through reducing combustion at power plants AND in the home (our furnaces, hot water heaters, etc), the health benefits to our brains, lungs, and hearts - especially of our children - are significant.

8. The potential for new energy efficiency gains keeps growing

According to the most recent assessment of energy efficiency potential in Iowa, the actual achievable savings potential with present technology over the next 10 years is roughly 10% of sales. With current Iowa annual sales of electricity and natural gas well over $5 billion, this suggests new savings potential for Iowa customers and local economies of $500 million in the coming decade - do we really want to give that up?

9.Efficiency opportunities never stop ...

... because technology never stops! The innovative nature of our economy guarantees there will always be new energy efficiency technologies available, and as energy gets more expensive over time (when was the last time your electric rates went down?) the value of energy efficiency to Iowa customers and communities will continue to rise.


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