Energy efficiency programs are the hidden powerhouse behind many current trends in the electric utility industry.
Electricity demand has been largely flat in the U.S. for the past 10 years, in no small part due to electricity efficiency programs funded by utility customers in nearly all states. Appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards are also having a big impact, along with tighter building codes, tax credits and finance programs.
These programs, in turn, have had a ripple effect on investment across the sector, with impacts on the future of generation, transmission and distribution system decisions. In recent years, there has been a wave of power plant retirements, as generators are squeezed between low natural-gas prices, declining costs of wind and solar, environmental and other regulatory costs, and nearly flat demand due to energy efficiency gains.
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