Conservation Could Save 10 Percent

Virginia could curtail electricity consumption by 10 percent with techniques used routinely in other states, reducing the need for new power plants and transmission lines, according to a report by Summit Blue Inc. for the Piedmont Environmental Council. (The Washington Post story is here. The study itself has not yet been posted on the PEC website.)

The report recommends creating financial incentives for installation of energy-efficient lighting, air conditioners and heaters, and incorporation of efficient design into buildings. The study also suggests investing in technology that allows consumers to automatically reduce their electricity use when demand, and cost, are highest. Virginia ranks among the bottom of states that utilize such technology.

Said PEC spokesman Robert W. Lazaro Jr.: “This report demonstrates that there’s enough [low]hanging fruit in terms of best practices by the industry to save a considerable amount of energy over the next 10 years.”

Currently, Virginia pursues a Big Grid energy policy, having enacted legislation this year that will encourage Dominion and other electric utilities to meet growing demand by building new power plants and transmission lines while offering only modest incentives for conservation, energy efficiency and renewable fuels.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


15 responses to “Conservation Could Save 10 Percent”

  1. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    I hope the study notes how much could be saved by turning off lights that are not used and taking down lights that are not needed.

    Watching the NBA playoffs one is overwhelmed with the volume of lights in buildings and directed up along roads that are displayed in the obligitory “airial coverage provide by ________” photos of places that you know have no one in them.

    VDOT and municipalities far over light roadways instead of inforceing speed limits. New on-board lights in Autonomobiles, when used corrctly, make most roadway lighting a waste.

    Any roadway or street lighting that is directed up is a gross waste but that is what you see in the CofC promo shots and in satelite photos.


  2. Anonymous Avatar

    Excellent post and excellent comment.

    We need to get away from the antiquated grid for greater conservation, efficiency, and resilience.

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    so why would Dominion want to sell LESS electricity?

    It is not in their financial interest to converve or to have consumers conserve.

    If conservation actually started making a dent in their profits – they’d probably seek a rate increase … right?

    I’m such a cynic… sorry…

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Who cares!
    Energy is everywhere, abundant, and freely streaming down on us from the Sun.
    Soon it will be virtually free for everyone.
    Conservation will be irrelevant.
    More energy, more prosperity.
    Cheaper energy, cheaper concrete, cheaper high rise housing.
    Whining about conservation is a waste of time.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde


    Like I said, if you want to make conservation popular, then make it profitable. There should be a way where we save, and they still make more money: I know it sounds backwards, but it isn’t.

  6. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde


    Yes, solar energy is abundant, but it is also thin. Because of the cost of harvesting it, it will never be virtually free.

    My hay crop is thin this year , too. I can tell you that the thinner it is, the more it costs to harvest.

    On the other hand, one day, the sun will become a Nova. Then, energy from the sun will be abundant, and freely streaming down on us.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  7. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “We need to get away from the antiquated grid for greater conservation, efficiency, and resilience.”

    Well, that is an intersting comment, considering the frequent calls for a MORE gridlike sytem with regard to auto traffic.

    If we get away from a major electrical grid, and move toward one with more local generation, then isn’t that a fairly good analogy for my frequent call for “More Places”?

  8. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    Once again, EMR and I agree. We waste far too much money on exterior night illumination.

    Let’s go back to a time when we ccould enjoy the stars. I’m willing to let people do as they please. I understand why people put up security lights. I don;t understand why people move to the country, and then kill what they moved there for.

    Put your night lights on motion detectors, please.

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “if you want to make conservation popular, then make it profitable.”

    if you use less electricity, doesn’t that count as profitable?

  10. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “profitable” conservation

    an interesting concept.. especially if the advocacy is to “pay” someone to conserve…

    .. and opposed to consumers – benefitting their own bottom line by using LESS of something that in turn would mean they might pay proportionally LESS for it.

    The concept that “someone” would “pay” someone else to use LESS seems bizarre to me.

    WHO would be ther person to pay someone else and where would they get the money to pay someone else and what would be the benefit to someone to pay someone else to conserve?

    How about – instead – we CHARGE for what folks consume – and the fee is according to how much you actually use – and then you can decide if it is worth it to you to use less… and save money?

    For instance, the step-function useage arrangement for water/sewer where for a basic price – you get up to a certain amount.. then if you use more.. the rate goes up accordingly..

    .. the more the use, the more you pay.

    If we did this with electricity – put SMART METERs on everyone’s home and charged MORE for more use, especially at peak hours… because that is exactly when Dominon and others have to fire up additional plants to meet the load.

    Why not pass that increased cost on to those that need it – and with Smart Meters – let folks have the option .. say to NOT run their water heater during peak hours and instead defer it to non-peak hours?

    That way.. everyone wins – because less peak-hour “dispatch” plants have to be built (and incorporated into the base rate for electricity).

    Then .. folks using Smart Meters could figure out quickly what appliances were the biggest consumers of electricity – and then make decisions about whether a newer one – would ultimately save them money – and, in turn, lower the base-load demand on Dominion.

    Dominion could request the use of Smart Meters right now – and incorporate the additional cost into the price of electricty – the same way they would incorporate the cost of new power plants except with Smart Meters – the end result is lower consumption.. less pollution.. and … conservation that “pays”.

    So the obvious question is why does Dominion NOT seek this ability?

    Further .. why does our own GA not impose this on Dominion… as a benefit to all Virginians, including those concerned about new power lines?

    This is such a common-sense approach.. that is already in use in other parts of the world…

    why not in Virginia?

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    2 Quickies

    1. Dominion is in the back pocket of both parties. Witness the recent hire of Kaines former high ranking guy chief of staff maybe?

    2. The smartmeter sounds alot like congestion pricing for transportation i.e. you pay more at peak usage times where capacity is at a premium.

    Have a good weekend folks


  12. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    “if you use less electricity, doesn’t that count as profitable?”

    If you choose to use less electricity then it may be profitable to you (and maybe not). Suppose you choose to turn of the lights on April 14 instead of finishing your taxes.
    But it is your choice and your priority.

    It is not profitable for the electricity vendor, if you choose to conserve electricity. But it is his choice and his priority to be in the elctricity business rather than the conservation light bulb business.

    But, every action has some externalities. It seems to me that when we require other people to do something on our behalf, then we should expect to pay for what we get.

    We want large expanses of open space to protect our water, so we pass large lot restrictions. This makes it less profitable and less desireable to own large lots.

    In New Zealand the government pays landowners for protecting the waterways. This makes owning large lots more desireable and more profitable. And the people who get and use the water foot the bill.


    I think we are missing the point. Say we save 10% or 20%. And then population grows and we invent more things to use electricity for. Eventually we will need more power in more places or more distribution.

    Sooner or later, someone is going to get stuck with being taken over for a power plant or power line.

    What we need to do is ensure that those peole get paid a fair price for “conserving” that open land (or developed land) for us, now that “WE” want to spend what was saved inour own best interests.

    I don’t have any problem with charging people for what they consume. I just have a problem when we create public goods with private property, and we don’t recognize that as a form of consumption.

  13. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “..It seems to me that when we require other people to do something on our behalf, then we should expect to pay for what we get.”

    for the sake of discussion… out of all the things that consumers pay for… what percentage are those the “require” people to do something on “our” … “behalf”?

    who is doing what for whose behalf?

    out of 100% of what all of us pay – what percentage is forced on our to do for others “behalf”?

    Is electricity something “we” are forced to do in other folks (whoever they are) behalf?

    or let’s turn this around.. and ask… (presume) that the vast, vast majority of things we pay for are not forced on us… that we willingly choose to buy – or not.

    We are not forced to take jobs that we must drive to.. or buy SUVs or drive SOLO at rush hour or use twice as much electricity as our neighbor or.. name a thousand things that we do that no one else forces us to do… in the first place .. and certainly not.. in the second place .. in their behalf.


    so.. what are those things that we ARE forced to do in other’s behalf?

  14. Ray Hyde Avatar
    Ray Hyde

    This happens all the time. If you can’t see it, then you aren’t looking very hard. Like I said, we generally don’t recognize this as a form of consumption we should pay for: we simply assume it is our majoritarian right.

    I don’t see it as a majoritarian issue. Just because we choose to steal from only a few, doesn’t mean that it is not stealing, just the same. In fact, that argument only suggests that we could easily compensate those individuals adequately, without feeling much of a pinch ourselves.

    How many people does a power line serve, Millions? For how long, decades? How many does it hurt, a few hundred? How long do they get paid, once? It seems to me there is plenty enough money here to make sure that those that get imposed upon go away feeling not quite so bad. Ideally they should get paid enough that they could sell what is left and buy something equivalent away from the power lines.

    True enough, everything has some external consequences, everything we do affects others to some degree. Which is only all the more reason we should be sensitive to this when the many affect the few. Especially when the effects affect the few disproportionately to their wealth.

    And yes, I believe upzoning should be paid for, just as downzoning should, for exactly the same reasons. In fact, I think we should simply recognize zoning as a commodity, and put it up for sale.

  15. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’m still confused.

    Are you talking about products and services willingly purchased by consumers?

    Or are you talking about taxes and the process for allocating tax revenues…

    Or are you talking about compensation for something you were forced to sell… i.e. not a willing seller transaction?

    What is your concept of what a “taking” is?

    but I’m still trying to understand how “takings” tie into conservation…. on a broader view – not just developable land.

Leave a Reply