On December 22, 2011, the Maryland Public Service Commission (Order No. 84569 ) ordered the expansion of utilities’ energy efficiency and demand response programs for the second phase (2012-2014) of the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008. The EmPOWER Maryland Act targets a 15 percent reduction in the state’s per capita electricity consumption and a 15 percent reduction in peak electricity by 2015 (using a 2007 baseline). Utilities are responsible for achieving two-thirds of the reduction targets, and each utility has been required to file an energy savings and demand reduction plan. To date, “EmPOWER Maryland” programs have created 800,000 MWh in annual electricity savings, saved $100 million in annual energy costs, and provided electricity bill rebates to over 250,000 Maryland residents and businesses looking to increase energy efficiency.
Under EmPOWER Maryland, Maryland’s five major utilities are responsible for developing and implementing energy efficiency and demand response programs, which have included electricity bill rebates for energy efficiency investments, energy audits, and energy efficiency services. While the Maryland Public Service Commission expressed concern that utilities’ programs will not meet 2015 goals, installation and participant levels have increased in recent quarters. The Public Service Commission also approved measures to expand existing programs through increased rebates for energy efficiency equipment for residences and businesses, increased rebates for residential energy makeovers, and statewide administration of limited income energy efficiency programs.
Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, stated “we applaud the efforts of the utilities and the PSC in meeting the ambitious EmPOWER Maryland goals and we encourage all Marylanders to contact their utility today to make their home or business more energy efficient.” He also credited EmPOWER Maryland for lowering electricity prices and protecting electricity supply during the summer heat wave in 2011. Overall, the EmPOWER Maryland Act is considered one of the nation’s strongest programs to promote energy efficiency, and Maryland is one of the “top ten” states for energy efficiency according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).