Energy Efficiency, Outage Management, T&D

Report shows 46% of California’s retail electric customers cut consumption in 2001

BOULDER, Colo., Nov. 13, 2001 — About 46% of retail electric customers in California reduced their consumption during 2001 compared to earlier years, according to E Source, a unit of Platts, the energy information, research, consulting and market services business of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Hovering in the 15% range, the reductions were a direct response to outages, higher prices, rolling blackouts, and publicity about energy shortages.

The study was conducted by Boulder-based E Source, an energy research and consulting firm, and Strategic Marketing & Research (SMRI), an Indianapolis-based market research company. The study included a survey of 400 California residential customers conducted during the first two weeks of October 2001. Although the study focused on behavioral changes consumers made over the summer in response to the energy situation, E Source also asked a series of general questions about industry restructuring for comparison with data from its annual national survey of residential customers.

Among the study’s key findings:

* 7 out of 10 California businesses have implemented energy-efficiency measures since the energy crisis in California began. Most of these are “no-cost” or “low-cost” measures related to usage cutbacks or investments in items such as energy-efficient light bulbs, weather stripping, programmable thermostats, or shade screens.

* For 59% of the respondents, the goal was to reduce overall energy consumption, rather than just reducing usage during peak demand periods. About 24% said they focused on both objectives.

* Among those who implemented additional energy-efficiency measures, 46% strongly believe their efforts “helped contribute to an improved energy situation” in California, and 84% will “definitely continue with the same measures next year if the situation remains the same.”

* The primary reasons given for implementing changes were high energy costs and fear of blackouts rather than environmental issues.

A substantial percentage of the general population intend to do more to address energy efficiency and are aware of rebates offered by the state and their local utility.

Half of California consumers report that their experiences over the past year have either “somewhat” or “substantially” decreased their support of industry restructuring. Also, significantly fewer California residents believe deregulation will result in lower prices than do consumers elsewhere in the U.S.

“There is a fair amount of skepticism about what is going on at this point,” said Tia Hensler, E Source market research director. According to the study, consumers believe state officials, regulators, and owners of generating plants were major contributors to the situation, as was short-sighted legislation. These perceptions exist even though many of the respondents had little understanding of how deregulation actually works. “Even with all the publicity restructuring has received, there are still large numbers of consumers who don’t fully understand it. If there is an upside for energy providers, it’s that they are still a trusted source for information about the topic,” said Hensler.

For more information about the study, please contact Tia Hensler, E Source market research director, at 720-548-5614, or Bill Leblanc, E Source vice president, at 720-548-5476.

About E Source

E Source delivers independent analysis of retail energy markets and energy-related services and technologies through its research and consulting services to electric and gas utilities.

Platts is a provider of energy information and market services, with 17 offices worldwide. Products range from real-time and Internet-based news and price assessment services, to newsletters, market reports, databases, magazines, conferences, research services, geospatial tools and consulting. Additional information is available at www.platts.com and www.plattsmetals.com.