Yesterday morning, representatives from National Grid, Energy Source and Citizens Bank came together to announce the results of an economic impact study showing National Grid’s energy-efficiency programs have provided jobs and savings to Rhode Islanders.
The economic impact study, which was completed by the New England Clean Energy Council at the request of National Grid, revealed that in 2012 National Grid created 528 full-time jobs with an annual economic impact of $27 million in Rhode Island (an estimated average annual earning of $51,410 per worker). This comes at a time when Rhode Island has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, and despite a troubled economy.
“Through these tough times we’ve continued to promote these energy efficient programs,” said Timothy Horan, president of National Grid in Rhode Island.
“When we deliver energy efficiency, we can create a very vibrant economic development opportunity in Rhode Island,” added Michael McAteer of National Grid.
In addition to the economic impact, it was found that National Grid energy efficiency programs, which have been in existence for 25 years, would save Rhode Island electricity customers $86 million and natural gas customers $28.2 million in energy costs over 10 to 14 years.
According to a press release from National Grid, the lower energy use will save over 1.2 million megawatt hours of electricity and 3.3 million dekatherms of natural gas, reducing carbon emissions equivalent to removing more than 225,000 motor vehicles from the road for one year.
Horan also made mention of the fact that Rhode Island was recently ranked the sixth most energy efficient state, moving up from seventh last year.
“That really showed the vibrancy and the comprehensiveness of our programs out here,” he said.
The report reveal was held at the Citizens Bank branch at 120 Atwood Avenue in Cranston. Citizens Bank is one of the largest companies to take part in National Grid’s energy efficiency program. This year six Rhode Island branches went through the process to become more energy efficient, transitioning to high-efficiency lighting and there are plans to do the same at 75 other Rhode Island branches in 2014.
“We’ve invested over $1 million with National Grid and with Energy Source to make improvements in our footprint just this year. So you can see it is not just a conversation topic for Citizens Bank. This is core to our value, core to our mission, core to what we want to do to help improve the economy and also improve the energy efficiency of our facilities,” said Hugh Peltz, head of Health, Safety and Environment for Citizens Bank.
The Providence-based company, Energy Source, is one of National Grid’s project expeditors who helps customers find ways to save energy through energy-efficient equipment. The company was contracted to do the work for Citizens Bank.
Ron Sliney, vice president of Energy Source, explained that through their energy-efficiency, Citizens Bank will see 2.3 million kilowatt hours in energy savings equal to $300,000 a year in savings. They will also receive an incentive check for about a half-million dollars from National Grid.
Peltz explained that in the Atwood Avenue branch, all 162 lighting fixtures were changed to either RT8 high-efficiency bulbs or LED bulbs to help with cost savings ($5,000 every year in just one branch), reducing their carbon footprint and showing customers the benefits of the new lighting.
“You can see from the lighting alone how well these new energy-efficient products function,” said Peltz.
Savings for Citizens Bank and other companies is not the only benefit discussed at yesterday’s event. Energy Source has seen a surge of business thanks to National Grid.
Sliney said Energy Source has been a project expeditor for 11 years and they noticed when the economy slowed five years ago, so did business.
But thanks to the efforts of National Grid and their incentives such as a 30 percent kicker for businesses who look further into their energy efficiency than just lighting, Energy Source has seen double-digit growth. Their field work force increased over the past five years from 15 electricians to 75, plus 15 mechanical technicians.
“You can see the significant role the program and the slight changes they have made in a tight economy has made on Energy Source,” said Sliney.
McAteer pointed out that those incentives are not just for large company clients, but homeowners as well. National Grid encourages weatherizing homes to reduce the cost of energy use (better weather stripping, insulation, etc.). McAteer said that National Grid would pay between two-thirds and three-quarters of the cost to air-seal and insulate a customer’s home.
They also encourage all customers to switch to LED interior light bulbs. If customers complete all three (air-seal home, improve insulation and switch to LED), they could see between 15 and 20 percent savings on energy bills.
“Our programs are here to stay, we’re working with everyone throughout the state; there’s a lot of benefits for the economy, the environment and also our customers through their bills,” said Horan.