NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York kicked off an energy efficiency program that seeks to reverse electricity use increases by reducing power usage by 15 percent of projected levels in 2015.
If left unchecked, the state expects demand for power to rise by about 11 percent from current levels by 2015.
When fully funded, the state Public Service Commission expects the program, called the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, to provide more than $4 billion in benefits to customers through 2015 and create thousands of jobs.
To meet that goal, the PSC will require power companies to start collecting an additional $172 million in System Benefits Charges (SBC) annually beginning in October 2008 to fund the programs.
“You need to make investment today to have energy efficiency gains in the future,” a spokesman for the PSC said Thursday.
The System Benefits Charge currently takes in about $175 million a year, according to the PSC website. It primarily funds energy efficiency programs run by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
The average residential customer in New York using about 500 kilowatt-hours of power a month pays about 30 to 90 cents each month in SBC charges depending on their utility.
If the program works as expected, the PSC has forecast customer power bills will start to decline by 2.1 percent to 4.1 percent from current levels in 2011.
The benefits would come in part from reducing peak demand, which the PSC said should moderate commodity prices, improve system reliability and potentially reduce, or at least defer, the need for construction of new generation, transmission and distribution facilities.
Separately, both houses of the state legislature passed a package of legislation that will expand the net metering law.
Current law allows net metering for small residential and farm service installations. The new legislation would expand net metering to allow commercial customers to net meter wind and solar electric systems.
Net metering allows a customer’s electric meter to spin backwards, providing a credit on their utility bill when their on-site renewable energy system sends unused power to the grid.
Gov. David Paterson said he would sign the bills.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino