The Public Utility Commission of Texas on Thursday denied a proposal for utilities to increase energy efficiency savings goals, though regulators also acknowledged that improvement is needed and said those efforts are ongoing.
Sierra Club in August petitioned for the PUCT to initiate a rulemaking to “make substantial changes to the peak demand reduction and energy efficiency goals and related programs, the cost caps and the performance bonuses” of eight utilities.
The proposal would have required utilities to “nearly double their peak demand goals and quadruple their energy saving goals over the next three years,” Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, explained in an August blog post.
PUCT staff, however, recommended denying the petition in a proposed order that regulators adopted.
“The Commission currently has a full slate of rulemaking projects,” the order said.
There is work being done to boost the state’s energy efficiency resources, regulators noted at the PUCT’s open meeting on Thursday.
“I support denying the petition, recognizing and knowing that we have changes that need to be made regarding energy efficiency,” said Commissioner Kathleen Jackson, the PUCT’s newest member.
Jackson was appointed in August by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. She will be the commission’s lead on energy efficiency, said Chairman Peter Lake.
Jackson said commission staff will be hosting a biannual energy efficiency implementation project on Oct. 18 “where we will be making recommendations regarding best practices, discussing needed modifications to energy efficiency programs, procedures and the savings estimates.”
“While we may not be moving forward with this now, it's not a ‘no,’ it's not a ‘not yet.’ There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Lake.
The Sierra Club tweeted in response, “But Texans need common-sense solutions to lower bills, clean the air, and strengthen the grid NOW. Commissioner Jackson suggests a future rulemaking, and we'll continue to urge action asap.”