Conservation in the Northwest has saved 3,000 megawatts since 1978

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According to a report by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the Pacific Northwest has saved almost 3,000 MW since 1978 by investing in conservation. For perspective, this amount of power can service a city twice the size of Seattle with power to spare. Here's the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's press release:Regional energy conservation investments show more savings at lower cost, Council reportsSince 1978, regional electricity conservation programs have saved about 2,925 megawatts, more than enough electricity for two cities the size of Seattle, according to a report by the Council. Not only is that a significant savings, but the per-megawatt cost of the savings has declined over time, making the expenditures increasingly cost-effective. Every dollar spent today on energy conservation is buying more than twice as much energy-use efficiency as did investments in the early 1990s, according to the report, which is based on a survey of regional electric utilities. From an average cost of $3.93 million per average megawatt in first-year costs in 1991, the cost in 2004 was $1.60 million per average megawatt (an average megawatt is one million watts supplied continuously for one year, or enough to keep 10,000 100-watt light bulbs burning for that period)."At a time of record-high energy prices, it's good news for electricity ratepayers that demand for power is being reduced in a cost-effective manner,” said Council Chair Melinda Eden, an Oregon member of the Council. “ In our Northwest Power Plan we identify nearly as much cost-effective potential conservation as has been acquired since 1980. The plan sets goals for achieving that conservation over time. It is critical that the Bonneville Power Administration, as the region's largest electricity provider, acquire its share of that conservation in order to reduce the need for new and more expensive generating plants in the future and to protect ratepayers from future high power-market prices.” At more than $1 million per average megawatt, the first-year cost for conservation measures is higher than first-year costs for new electricity generating plants. However, a conservation investment typically is paid all at once rather than capitalized, or paid over time, as is typical for generating plants. Leveled over the useful life of the investment, costs of conservation to ratepayers are less than half the cost of new generating plants. According to the survey, as the efficiency of investments improved over time so did the amount of conservation acquired in the Northwest. Since 1978, about 2,925 megawatts have been acquired. Expressed in terms of power generation, that is more than enough electricity for two cities the size of Seattle. The largest share of the conservation, 1,635 megawatts, was acquired through energy-efficiency programs funded by the Bonneville Power Administration and regional electric utilities. In 2004, Bonneville and the utilities spent $179 million on conservation. Federal standards (546 megawatts) and state energy codes (560 megawatts) also contributed significant savings. And since 2000, the efforts of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance have improved the efficiency of new appliances, machinery, and lighting and reduced energy demand by 185 megawatts in the region.The Council' s survey includes 1) information provided voluntarily by 48 Northwest utilities, 2) calculations of reduced power consumption attributable to energy codes and standards, and 3) estimates of reduced power demand attributable to sales of energy-efficient appliances and machinery. Collectively the 48 reporting utilities represent 59 percent of the utilities participating in the Conservation and Renewable Energy Discount program offered by Bonneville.The Council is an agency of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington and is directed by the Northwest Power Act of 1980 to prepare a program to protect, mitigate and enhance fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin affected by hydropower dams while also assuring the region an adequate, efficient, economical and reliable power supply.