Friday, June 21, 2013

Saving energy is great. But how much is actually possible?

Saving energy is great. But how much is actually possible? | WONKBLOG:
Those engineering studies can’t account for the behavioral changes you might see in response to efficiency improvements,” says MIT’s Christopher Knittel, who also co-directs the E2e project. “People could, for instance, start adjusting their thermostat if it becomes cheaper to cool the house.” (This is known as the “rebound effect.”)

One recent study of Mexico, for instance, found that a government program to help people to upgrade their refrigerators with energy-saving models really did curtail electricity use. However, a similar program for air conditioners had the opposite effect — when people got sleeker A/C units, they used them more often, and energy use went up.

“The point is that policymakers aren’t going to spend an infinite amount of money trying to save energy or reduce greenhouse gases,” Greenstone says. “So the motivation is to find the places where the return is the greatest. If you could reduce a ton of carbon-dioxide for $100 or two tons for $50, you’d choose the latter.
Related: A criticism of the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) is that it morphed from a planning entity to a couponing entity.

As the Washington's WONKBLOG was writing of studies showing A/C programs actually could send energy use upwards, the OPA launched yet another such program
The OPA does have comprehensive controls to measure the success of it's demand reduction programs, and yet ... there is a school of thought that bureacracies exist to expand bureaucracies.
Cynically, programs which don't work are bureaucratically far more beneficial than ones that do - as the bureaucratic empire will need to expand to step up efforts to find something that does work.

On a year-date basis, Ontario's net exports exceed the volumes of any other year since the IESO began tracking;

  • Ontario has been a net importer for fewer hours than any other year (18),
  • net exports are at a record high (6.7TWh),
  •  and the average price received for exports is likely approximately 1/3rd the price paid by a typical Ontario consumer (~2.6 cents/kWh compared to ~8).

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