December 15, 2010

MADISON — The Citizens Utility Board applauds Tuesday’s approval by the Committee on Joint Finance of the proposal by the Public Service Commission to increase investments in energy efficiency for 2011 through 2014.

The Committee on Joint Finance approved budgets for Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency program, of $120 million in 2011, $160 million in 2012, $204 million in 2013, and $256,000 million in 2014. The 2010 budget for Focus is $83 million.

Making our homes and businesses more energy efficient is the best strategy to help consumers reduce their energy bills, especially since rates for electricity and heating fuels will likely continue increasing for the foreseeable future.

Even though investments in energy efficiency can cause short-term rate increases, these investments are cost-effective: Over time, they save more money than they cost. Focus on Energy has provided more than $1.7 billion in energy savings above and beyond the costs of the program since it began in 2001.

Third-party studies have consistently shown that investments in energy efficiency by Focus on Energy are cost-effective: Focus on Energy saves $2.50 for every dollar invested in the program. This is a program that makes money. For example, investing $100 in energy efficiency through Focus on Energy will save $250. Investing $500 will save $1,250.

The reason why energy efficiency saves money is that investments in energy efficiency are much less expensive than comparable investments in new power plants, or to pay for the fossil fuels that are burned in most of them. Energy efficiency is also less expensive than buying heating fuel.

“Conservation is the only way households and businesses can lower their energy bills.” said Charlie Higley, executive director of CUB. “Additional investments in Focus on Energy will save Wisconsin consumers billions of dollars in energy costs, rather than spending the money on out-of-state fossil fuels.”

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The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is a member-supported, nonprofit organization that advocates for reliable and affordable utility service. CUB represents the interests of residential, farm, and small business customers of electric, natural gas, and telecommunication utilities before the Legislature, regulatory agencies, and the courts.