June 5, 2009 — Xcel Energy plans to help customers save money by using less energy with a comprehensive series of new and expanded programs under its proposed 2010–2012 Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). The proposal, filed June 1 with the Minnesota Office of Energy Security (OES), will guide the company’s electric and natural gas conservation and load-management efforts for the next three years.
Xcel Energy’s proposed CIP represents energy consumption savings of 1,121 gigawatt hours, energy demand (load) savings of 320 MW, and 2,446,081 dekatherms of natural gas energy savings over three years. The energy savings that will be achieved over the plan’s duration is enough to meet the electric needs of 138,000 homes in one year and the natural gas needs of 27,000 homes in one year. The plan’s total budget is more than $280 million.
“The plan’s scope is significant, saving enough energy in three years to avoid the need to build one medium-sized power plant and its associated 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide while saving our customers money,” said Judy Poferl, Xcel Energy regional vice president. “Because of benefits like these, conservation is a critical part of Xcel Energy’s strategy for meeting our customers’ energy needs.”
New in this plan is the proposed Solar Rewards program, which would provide rebates to customers who install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems of up to 40 kW on their premises. Xcel Energy would purchase renewable energy credits generated by customers’ solar systems. During the 2008 session, Minnesota legislators agreed that renewable energy resources such as solar, which meet certain energy efficiency requirements, may be included within public utilities’ CIP plans.
“We believe solar can be a viable resource in Minnesota for meeting our customers’ energy needs, and we want to better understand how it can work on our system,” Poferl said. “This program is going to help us support our customers’ strong interest in renewable energy options.”
Also new in this program is expanded outreach to residential customers, offering one-on-one partnering to reduce energy costs and increase the efficiency of homes. Program highlights for residential customers include:
“- Energy efficiency support services: This service provides customers with Web-based information about conservation strategies, systems, equipment and program information, contacts and a free consulting service to help homeowners communicate with contractors.
“- Conservation kits for low-income customers: The kits would include compact fluorescent lights (CFL), high efficiency showerheads and a variety of other products designed to reduce energy usage.
“- Refrigerator recycling: A $35 incentive would be offered to residential customers to recycle functioning, secondary refrigerators, usually found in a garage or basement.
“- Residential quick-fix efficiency eervice: A Quick Fix technician would visit a customer’s home and install a variety of energy efficient improvements – such as CFLs, energy efficient showerheads, weather stripping and more. Customers would purchase the materials from the technician, and labor would be free.
“- School education kits: The program would combine a set of classroom activities with projects in students’ homes to install and measure energy efficiency. The kits would include items such as CFLs, kitchen aerators and high efficiency showerheads and would be distributed to select 6th grade classrooms.
The filing also includes new features and technologies for existing business programs, as well as developing more individual advisory services for business customers. Most of the programs are available to all large and small commercial and industrial customer segments, such as retail, office, hospital, manufacturing, education and government facilities.
The proposed Conservation Improvement Program complies with Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. The act, passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, was designed to bolster investments in renewable power, increase energy conservation and decrease Minnesota’s contribution to global warming.
Pending approval by the Office of Energy Security, Xcel Energy will begin implementing and expanding programs in 2010.