The PennFuture Center for Enterprise and the Environment commissioned a study detailing the impacts of Act 129 on the state's families and businesses. The report, conducted by Optimal Energy, found that the law succeeded in its goal of cutting energy demand [PDF].
2008's Act 129 required Pennsylvania electric utilities to reduce their overall electricity load by 1 percent by May 31, 2011, and 3 percent by May 31, 2013. Courtney Lane, a senior energy policy analyst for PennFuture, said that thanks to programs offering reduced prices on lighting and rebates for Energy Star appliances and more, nearly all electric utilities exceeded the 2011 goal and saved consumers some $2.8 million.
"When you consider that the installed energy efficiency measures, like new equipment and lighting, can last upwards of 15 years, the lifetime savings equals a present value of $2.3 billion to consumers," said Lane.
In addition, the Act is credited with having environmental benefits on top of consumer benefits.
"Optimal calculated that spending on programs, to date, will net Pennsylvania over 4,000 job years. Job years are measured as one full time job per one year," said Lane. "The electricity savings achieved to date also avoid 23 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over the lifetime of the measures. This is the same as taking 4 million cars off the road for a year."
Act 129 expires on May 31, 2013. The Public Utility Commission has until November 30, 2013 to determine if the Act was cost-effective. If it is deemed so, the PUC is required to set new savings goals for the coming years. But PennFuture is hoping to avoid a "blackout period" that would occur if the timelines are followed. It is urging the PUC to take action early in 2012.
"The utilities will need a full year to develop new plans, have those plans approved, and being implementing them, so it's critical that the PUC start this process soon," said Lane.