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Energy Efficiency — “the first fuel”

Energy Efficient Refrigerators vs. Industrial Wind Projects

[A portion of the testimony given by Virginia Irvine for Bill S.1646, H.0855, H.1772 “An Act Promoting Transparency in Electric Bills” before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.  June 8, 2011 Massachusetts State House. It has been updated on September 25, 2011].

As the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources says on its web site, energy efficiency costs a fraction of the price of generating power, therefore it is the “first fuel.”

In April 2010 the state rolled out a rebate program for people buying energy efficient appliances such as new refrigerators. The program was paid for with a 6.2 million dollar federal stimulus program (our tax dollars) and was administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA). The EOEEA opened the rebate program up on the prescribed day and time and all the available rebates were gone within a few hours.

Because I was not one of the lucky people to obtain the coveted $250 rebate on a new refrigerator on the prescribed day, I bought a new refrigerator on one of the Massachusetts tax free days. I have calculated a monthly saving of approximately 55.25 kilowatt hours on my electric bill since having the new refrigerator installed one year ago.  The Energy Star rating for my refrigerator listed an estimated average monthly electricity use of 38.83 kilowatt hours for the refrigerator.

Encouraging the replacement of old energy-hog refrigerators for one-half of the 2,443,580 households in Massachusetts could generate a substantial savings in electricity use.  Using my actual kilowatt savings that I have experienced with my new refrigerator and extending that to ½ of the households in Massachusetts, I calculated a total savings of 810,047 megawatt hours per year.

That is electricity no longer being used by residential customers which is now available for other uses.  The electricity savings of 810,047 megawatt hours per year is equivalent to the output of twenty-two (22) 15 MW wind projects like Berkshire Wind in Hancock. Because of the low 28% capacity factor of wind turbines, a single Berkshire Wind sized project will generate only 36,792 megawatt hours per year. The Berkshire Wind Project was estimated to cost $65 million. Twenty-two Berkshire Wind Projects would cost $1.43 billion dollars.  That sum of money would buy a lot of energy efficient refrigerators. If just ½ the households were given the $250 rebate for a new refrigerator it would cost a little over $300 million dollars. And consider all the jobs that would be created in manufacturing, selling and delivering all those refrigerators.  A lot more jobs than are generated in the construction and operation of a wind turbine project.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Deborah Andrew permalink
    October 10, 2011 3:26 am

    This is an excellent piece. We don’t know the author, or have the author’s contact information. Would these be possible? I would like to ask the author to submit this as a letter to the editor to various newspapers in my region of the state.

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