No Place to Hide: Top and Bottom in Utility Energy Efficiency Ranking

July 30, 2014
New utility energy efficiency rankings by Ceres and Clean Edge reveal opportunities for utility competitors.

Credit: Francisco Diez

If you’re a country, state, city or utility that’s wasting energy, there is no hiding it any longer.

Energy efficiency advocates are increasingly slicing and dicing performance of these entities and producing rankings. The scorecards make public how well one does against the other, which serves as a powerful motivator to do better.

What governor doesn’t want to brag about heading a state that is number one for energy efficiency…and who wouldn’t cringe at being last?

The latest benchmarking, out last week, looked at the 32 largest utility holding companies in the U.S., which account for about 68 percent of retail electric sales. Produced by Ceres in partnership with Clean Edge, the report focused on both renewables and energy efficiency.

The winners?  Pacific Gas & Electric and Northeast Utilities ranked highest for energy efficiency – they saved the equivalent of 16 to 17 percent of their cumulative annual retail electric sales in 2012. Not surprisingly, these utilities operate in the top two states – Massachusetts and California – for energy efficiency, according to another ranking that was issued by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

When energy savings were measured on an incremental level (savings from new programs or participants in a given year), the winners were Pinnacle West, Sempra Energy, Portland General Electric, Puget Sound Energy and Northeast Utilities, which each achieved saving of roughly 1.5 percent of retail electric sales.

At the bottom of the cumulative ranking were PSEG, SCANA, Pepco Holdings, Dominion Resources, and Entergy with energy savings of less than one percent of their annual retail sales. For incremental savings, the bottom companies were Dominion Resources, PSEG, Entergy, FPL and Southern Co.

The report is more than just a way to get laggards moving or pat the champions on the back. Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and now a partner with Stoel Rives, pointed out that this kind of ranking helps competitors ferret out market opportunity.

Jon Wellinghoff, former FERC chairman

“This report will assist third parties by providing them with identification of areas of the country to target that are under served. So if you’re a distribution utility and you’re falling behind, your customers may turn to other competitive parties for services they are demanding,” he said during a news conference about the report.

Here are some other interesting factoids from the Ceres report.

  • As of 2012, the utility holding companies that installed the most smart meters were: OG&E Energy, Portland Electric, Sempra Energy, NextEra and NV Energy.
  • At the bottom of the smart meter list, with no smart meters installed, were: Ameren, Berkshire Hathaway, Northeast Utilities, PSEG and WE Energies.
  • Spending on electric efficiency and demand response by utilities and other administrators reached $6.1 billion in 2012 (Figures from The Consortium on Energy Efficiency)
  • U.S. energy efficiency programs grew to almost 140 million MWh in 2012 (Figures from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

The report, Benchmarking Utility Clean Energy, is available on Ceres website. Other recent rankings by ACEEE and Clean Edge also are available for cities and cities with green buildings, states, and countries.

Follow us on Twitter @EfficiencyMkts to keep up on the latest energy efficiency and microgrid news.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

Facebook:  Microgrids

Types of Microgrids

Dec. 4, 2023
No two microgrids are the same. Check out two types of microgrids with these real-life case studies.

Get the full report

Energy Modeling: An Essential Step in Microgrid Projects

Learn how energy modeling can be used to determine the best energy mix for your microgrid, as well as determine how big it needs to be to achieve your project goals.