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Efficiency Could Cut Electricity Use 15%, Report Says

Energy efficiency is likely to bring down U.S. electricity consumption by five to 15 percent by 2020, relative to forecast trends, according to a report by The Brattle Group.

Energy Efficiency and Demand Response in 2020 (pdf) is based on a survey of 50 energy experts from utilities, non-profits, government, universities, research labs and consulting firms. It finds that electric peak demand is likely to drop by 7.5 to 15 percent, and natural gas consumption by five to 10 percent, compared to forecast trends.

The report says these reductions will likely be caused by the rising cost of electricity and natural gas, advances in appliance and building technology, new rate designs, and cultural shifts, among other factors.

The Brattle Group said it found a surprising consensus on the impacts of improved energy efficiency. But it also found variation across regions, sectors and end-uses. For example, it expects that the West North Central Division will only reduce energy use by about 1.5 to 2.5 percent, while the Mountain Division will cut consumption by five to 16 percent.

The report found that 10 to 30 percent of commercial and industrial customers will participate in dynamic pricing programs, compared to between 7.5 and 20 percent of residential consumers.

Last month a report by Capital-E found that energy efficiency financing has the potential to jump from $20 billion to $150 billion over the next ten years. The report warns, however, that energy efficiency financing now stands at less than a fifth of its cost-effective potential, even after decades of public and private support.

U.S. utilities each spent anywhere from $0.02 to $4.80 per MWh of retail sales on energy efficiency programs in 2009, according to a report released last week by investor advocacy group Ceres.

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