Thursday, June 15, 2017

Duke and FPL rank poorly among nation's largest utilities in energy efficiency — Orlando Sentinel

Duke Energy is better than Florida Power & Light in pursuing energy efficiency but both rank poorly among the nation's largest utilities.
Kevin Spear
Orlando Sentinel

Duke Energy performs slightly better than Florida Power & Light Co. in helping customers reduce consumption of electricity, but both rank poorly among the nation’s utilities in promoting energy efficiency, according to a nonprofit group’s study published Wednesday.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Duke Energy as 46th and FPL as 48th on a list of the 51 largest power providers in the U.S., based on federally reported electricity sales in 2014.

Both utilities responded that they have extensive efficiency programs and that the study is either not applicable to Florida circumstances or is flawed.

Duke is the Orlando area’s biggest electricity utility and the state’s second largest, with 1.7 million customers; FPL is the state’s largest, with 4.7 million customers.

They are spending less on their efficiency programs and they are saving less energy than other utilities across the country.
— Grace Relf, ACEEE analyst.
“They are spending less on their efficiency programs, and they are saving less energy than other utilities across the country,” said Grace Relf, a lead writer of the report for the group.

Relf said conserving energy lessens the need for utilities to pursue the alternative, which is construction of new power plants that often bring greater revenues and profits for utilities and higher power bills for consumers.

The report’s highly ranked utilities offer an array of significant rebates and other incentives for customers to upgrade appliances, home insulation and air conditioners, Relf said.

She added that utility regulations in Florida do not encourage conservation as much as in other states, and that utilities have allowed that lack of incentive to become a part of their culture.

Relf said the reward for promoting energy conservation is lower electricity rates, lower electricity use by customers and, because power plants don’t have to burn as much fuel to make electricity, a cleaner environment.

An FPL power plant near West Palm Beach.
An FPL power plant near West Palm Beach.
Duke got higher rankings in other states: 29th in South Carolina; 31st in North Carolina; and 32nd in Ohio.

“The ACEEE scorecard uses a national set of metrics they’ve identified rather than the metrics that the state of Florida uses to define energy-efficiency success,” Duke spokeswoman Ann Marie Varga said. “At Duke Energy, we’re focused on providing energy efficiently, with a better customer experience.”

Duke’s monthly residential charge is $117.24 for 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is slightly more than the average amount of power used by households in the Orlando area.

Orlando Utilities Commission, which is not large enough to have been included in the study, charges $106.

About 600,000 Duke customers are in Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties. Last year, the utility was ranked last by J.D. Power among large Southern utilities for customer satisfaction.

The ACEEE promotes state and federal legislation, research and investment in energy efficiency and is funded by donations, government grants and work contracts.

The group’s study looked at a variety of performance measures, including a utility’s actual savings of energy, savings goals and range of customer-assistance programs.

Of a top score of 50 points in the ACEEE study, Duke Energy was given 9.5 points, and FPL got 9 points.

Those low marks were consistent with other large utilities of the South, including Alabama Power, which drew the worst rank in energy efficiency.

Getting the highest scores, in the 30s and 40s, were utilities of the Northeast and California.

Florida Power & Light’s service area covers much of the state’s most populated coastline, including South Florida, Naples and Sarasota, Brevard and Volusia counties, and part of Seminole County. Its monthly charge for 1,000 kilowatt hours is $102.61.

“Our energy-efficiency programs are designed to help all of our customers save energy at reasonable rates – not just those who participate in a particular conservation program,” said FPL spokesman David McDermitt, who added that the ACEEE promotes measures that would bring unreasonable rate increases.

“It’s also important to note that many of the areas with the highest rankings in the report are known to have the highest electric rates in the country,” McDermitt said.

J.D. Power ranks Duke Energy last in customer satisfaction »

Duke and FPL rank poorly among nation's largest utilities in energy efficiency — Orlando News Now

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