NV Energy Wants More Efficiency, But Regulators Cut Programs

Feb. 15, 2016
NV Energy wants more efficiency, but regulators in Nevada want less. That’s the ironic situation in Nevada. Last July, NV Energy said its residential lighting programs in southern Nevada were so popular — three times the utility’s initial projections — that it wanted to add more money to the program mid-year.

NV Energy wants more efficiency — but regulators in Nevada are calling for less.

In this interview (see player above), Tom Polikalas, Nevada representative, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, describes the battle over energy efficiency now being played out in Nevada.

Last July, NV Energy said its residential lighting programs in southern Nevada were so popular–three times the utility’s initial projections–that it wanted to add more money to the program mid-year. It also wanted to boost its LED lighting program between 2016-2018, but the program was eliminated by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

The commission in December cut the Residential Lighting program, which lowers the cost of LED lamps sold in retail stores, and the Pool Pumps program, which provides incentives for the installation of high- efficiency pool pumps. NV Energy in January petitioned the commission  to reverse its decision on these programs.

“To its credit,  NV Energy wanted to expand and increase its budget up to $60 million, but the commission decided to eliminate the LED lighting, refrigerator recycling and high-efficiency pool pump programs. We are dismayed by the direction the commission is going and encourage involvement in this type of decision making,” he says in this podcast interview.

Why is the commission cutting energy efficiency? “It could be that the commission is penny wise and pound foolish and ignoring the savings on bills,” he says. But just as important, the PUC is operating under guidelines that need to be improved.

The commission should consider a decoupling mechanism and other measures to provide incentives for utilities to invest in efficiency. These would also give the commission better guidelines for supporting efficiency.

“The Residential Lighting program is critical for stimulating the purchase of energy-efficient LED light bulbs, and it has proven to be very cost-effective and popular,” said Congresswoman Dina Titus of Nevada’s District One in a press release issued by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.  “Utility program incentives have played and should continue to play an important role in helping my constituents in southern Nevada invest in new LED technology.”

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About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

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