Media: Saving energy through Conservation Improvement Program (Sun Thisweek)

Oct 30, 2017

The Center for Energy and Environment provides opportunities for local leaders to learn about Minnesota's Conservation Improvement Program, and helped facilitate the information session referenced below.

This column appeared originally in Sun Thisweek and the Dakota County Tribune.

Saving energy through Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program

Recently we sat down with Minnesota State Senators Jim Carlson (District 51) and Greg Clausen (District 57) to share our story about the positive economic impact of Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) in our organizations. We’ve seen CIP’s value firsthand through the One-Stop Efficiency Shop, a full-service lighting program that partners with energy contractors like The Retrofit Companies to serve small businesses throughout Xcel Energy’s Minnesota service territory. 

Thanks to CIP rebates and incentives via One-Stop since 2001, Minnesota Senate District 51 has invested about $2.9 million in energy efficiency projects. The district’s One-Stop business clients have received almost $1.1 million in one-time rebates plus over $740,000 in annual cost savings. Local energy contractors have earned nearly 1,650 related workdays. And the district also cuts megatons of carbon, annually equivalent to pulling 1,020 cars off our roads. 

Meanwhile, Minnesota Senate District 57 has invested another $800,000 in energy efficiency lighting projects, yielding about $325,000 in rebates to local businesses and 430 days of employment for local contractors. All told, the district spends about $200,000 less per year for electricity thanks to the improvements, with annual carbon savings equal to parking 260 cars.

Life Time has made it a priority to improve energy efficiency at all 24 of its Minnesota locations, and has already made great headway. Upgrades performed so far should help Life Time annually save 8 million kilowatt-hours in electricity, equal to turning off 12,000 refrigerators. And because of those savings, the work will have a quick payback.  

Life Time embraces energy efficiency because it makes good business sense. Energy efficiency:

  • Amounts to about 14% of Minnesota’s energy system resources.
  • Is cost-effective, saving Minnesota households more than $6 billion dollars since 1995.
  • Provides over 47,000 Minnesota jobs at about 500 businesses statewide.
  • Cuts carbon while preserving productivity.

The math isn’t hard. We can either buy more energy (8 cents per kilowatt-hour), or save more (1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour). Cadmus Group reported in 2015 that, from 2008 to 2013, the program generated about four dollars in benefits for every dollar invested. Plus CIP has helped the state’s utility customers avoid almost 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

For Minnesotans to continue to value and benefit from CIP, we believe one important step is simply sharing more real-world, local data about the program's impact. 

We offered our personal experiences to help Senator Carlson and Senator Clausen better understand how CIP benefits local energy consumers, contractors, 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. 

— Peter Isabell, Director of Energy Management and Sustainability, Life Time; Wendy Fry, President, The Retrofit Companies

Read the original article at Sun Thisweek

Related Links
Sun Thisweek
Dakota County Tribune
Life Time
Retrofit Companies