Saving energy and money for what matters most, thanks to Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program
Recently we sat down at The Edge Christian Worship Center in Brooklyn Park with Minnesota State Senator John Hoffman and Representative Melissa Hortman to share our story about the positive economic impact of energy conservation in our organizations.
In 2007, Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act established energy-saving goals through the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) for electric and gas utilities, overseen by the Department of Commerce. Driven by utility company rebates and incentives that pay for themselves, CIP encourages utilities to promote energy efficiency technologies, help homes and businesses cut energy costs, and reduce harmful emissions while conserving resources.
Almost 10 years later, we’re spreading the word about CIP because we’ve seen its value firsthand, through the One-Stop Efficiency Shop — one of Minnesota’s many CIP-related programs. “One-Stop” is a full-service lighting program that partners with energy contractors like Premier Lighting, a local lighting contractor, to help small businesses throughout Xcel Energy’s Minnesota service territory with lighting needs assessments, efficiency recommendations, low-interest financing, and guidance toward making improvements.
Thanks to CIP rebates and incentives through the One-Stop program since 2001, Minnesota’s Senate District 36 alone has invested about $1.8 million in energy efficiency projects. The district’s One-Stop business clients have received over $750,000 in one-time rebates plus over $500,000 in annual cost savings. Local energy contractors like Premier Lighting have earned nearly 750 related workdays. And by saving on energy production and use, the district also cut 4,547 megatons of carbon annually — akin to pulling 758 cars off our roads.
Within District 36, The Edge Christian Worship Center has its own tale to tell. The center’s energy-efficient lighting upgrades were implemented by Premier Lighting and supported through CIP-related rebates and incentives. Because of the new efficiencies, the center now saves almost $10,000 in energy spending every year. And boosted by rebates from Xcel Energy amounting to nearly $16,000, savings covered the cost of upgrades in just under two years.
Every business works hard to invest wisely because every penny has to count. But when you’re in the “business” of uniting families through faith, providing study groups and other resources to strengthen an entire community, those valuable pennies need to stretch even further.
Fortunately, investing in energy savings earns much more than a one-time return. Through the hard work and expertise of Minnesota’s energy contractors, organizations like ours save thousands of dollars every year after they improve their energy use — money they can reinvest in community engagement, programs, and services, much better channels for limited resources.
For many reasons, investing in energy efficiency is an easy choice to make:
* It’s a major electric system resource, providing about 14% of the state’s energy system resources.
* It’s cost-effective, with minimal expense to implement and quick paybacks, saving Minnesota households more than $6 billion dollars since 1995.
* It provides over 47,000 Minnesota jobs at about 500 businesses like Premier Lighting throughout the state.
* It cuts carbon while preserving productivity. Through energy efficiency measures implemented because of CIP, the state’s utility customers will avoid almost 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
The math isn’t hard. As the state’s energy needs grow, we can either buy more (8 cents per kilowatt-hour), or save more (1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour). Plus the latest data indicate CIP generates about four dollars in benefits for every dollar invested. CIP opens doors to new technologies in lighting, appliances, heating, ventilation, insulation, architecture, and other strategies to help businesses save energy and money. And while strengthening our economy, it also serves as a powerful mechanism to improve our public health and environment.
Energy waste is like a leaky pipe — fix more leaks, stop more waste. District 36’s successes through the One-Stop program represent one local chapter in a statewide story of CIP in action. Savings and wages earned by energy contractors like the team at Premier Lighting offer local proof of CIP’s successes. And the pathways to achieve such successes would disappear without the rebates and incentives enabled through CIP.
So we offer our personal experiences to help Sen. Hoffman, Rep. Hortman, and other legislators better understand how CIP benefits local energy consumers and contractors, as well as electric utilities and our economy. Businesses statewide would do well to join us and inform your own district’s policymakers about the valuable role the Conservation Improvement Program plays in your own lives and livelihoods.
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