Measures to improve energy efficiency offer opportunities to create local jobs, save on energy bills and cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful pollutants. This makes energy efficiency an important part of effective response and recovery programmes during the Covid-19 crisis. There are many effective policies and programmes driving energy efficiency improvements. This paper focuses on energy utility-funded energy efficiency programmes, one of the primary mechanisms for improving energy efficiency around the world.
Utility-funded programmes provide several unique advantages. With the exception of areas without access to electricity, nearly every citizen and business is an energy utility customer. With the right regulatory incentives, utilities are thus well placed to promote energy efficiency through identifying and deploying energy savings opportunities for their clients. Energy utilities have access to finance, which puts them in a strong position to fund energy efficiency programmes. Many utility-funded programmes have been around for a long time, providing a ready supply chain for deploying energy efficiency actions quickly on a large scale. Energy efficiency is a key ingredient of socially inclusive, cost-effective energy transitions. It is also part of the evolving framework of energy utility business models that increasingly focus on demand-side savings and flexibility to operate systems reliably, often with the help of digital technologies.
This paper, which is addressed to those involved in implementing, designing and overseeing utility-funded energy efficiency programmes, aims to identify challenges and solutions for such programmes during the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery. It is also intended to help policy makers framing economic stimulus packages to understand how these programmes can deliver economic stimulus objectives by amplifying the job creation potential of public money through “shovel-ready” programmes – projects that are ready for construction – and growth-oriented innovation.
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