Mississippi native William Faulkner once wrote, “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” The same holds true when it comes to reducing energy consumption on a large scale: a few fundamental steps can quickly lead to substantial breakthroughs in energy savings.
Recently, a pair of U.S. southern states started taking those steps by adopting new policy frameworks that spur energy efficiency initiatives.
Earlier this month, the Mississippi Public Service Commission unanimously voted to adopt new rules requiring all gas and electric companies with 25,000+ customers to offer energy efficiency programs within six months.
“This program will save customers money, utilize our natural resources efficiently and create thousands of new jobs for our people. How much more of a win-win situation can we get?” Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley declared while promoting the multifaceted benefits of energy efficiency.
While Mississippi has typically trailed other states in efficiency (indeed, a 2012 efficiency study ranked it dead last), these new rules come hot on the heels of other innovations in the state’s energy policy. In April, Mississippi adopted groundbreaking efficiency legislation after an ambitious energy roadmap—inclusive of a full chapter on energy efficiency—was put forth by the Governor’s Office.
Mississippi hasn’t been the only southern state pursuing a more energy efficient future as of late. Last month, the Louisiana Public Service Commission voted to breathe new life into its own statewide efficiency program. While the program had been temporarily stalled for adjustments, it is now poised to resume.
The developments in Mississippi and Louisiana are significant for three essential reasons: first, the south holds massive potential for energy efficiency, as it possesses 36% of the US population but consumes approximately 44% of the nation’s energy; second, despite its potential for improvements in energy productivity, southern states have historically trailed other regions in efficiency; and, finally, the developments reflect a growing consensus among business leaders, policymakers, utilities and their customers that efficiency can drive significant savings for everyone, everywhere.
Opower has worked with utility partners around the world to help their customers save energy and money through innovative customer engagement solutions, such as our new demand response platform. To date, our programs have saved nearly 2.7 terawatt hours of energy, amounting to over $317 million in savings for utility customers – including customers in several southern states, ranging from Florida to North Carolina to Georgia.
Just as the policy advances in Mississippi and Louisiana show that energy efficiency policy has a place everywhere, the same goes for our programs: regardless of geographic location, political persuasion or household income, customers consistently save on their utility bills when they are given the necessary tools and personalized advice to do so.