Utility leaders discuss how they have made significant advances in energy productivity and where they still need to ramp up.
Utilities are major players in the energy sector with substantial potential and incentive for improving efficiency of their own operations – from generation to final distribution. Under suitable policy, regulatory and market conditions, utilities can also support energy efficient consumption by their customers, large and small. Such energy savings should directly help connect new customers, especially in countries with access-deficit population. Yet, only a small number of countries have energy efficiency mandates and incentives for utilities, and most countries have few or no policies in place to support energy efficiency. Many countries have yet to adopt and implement appliance standards & labeling, building codes for construction or minimum energy performance standards for industry. Lack of creditworthy utilities is also negatively affecting certain measures of energy efficiency. There is clear need for urgent action on the part of many countries to harness the benefits of energy efficiency.
The recent World Bank report on Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy suggests an important role for utilities in meeting energy efficiency. Utilities are one of the major actors in the power sector, but given their commercial incentive to sell power they are not always naturally aligned with the energy efficiency agenda. Moreover, only half of RISE countries require their utilities to undertake energy efficiency measures. Utilities can play a pivotal role for two reasons:
- they themselves are major consumers of energy through the waste that is created in the generation and transportation of electricity; and,
- they are uniquely placed to manage the demands on the system to promote energy efficiency.
Suitable regulatory measures can assist utilities in embracing energy productivity and realizing the SEforALL objective by 2030.