Edison Electric Institute president Tom Kuhn on July 31 affirmed his industry's strong support for the goals and recommendations of an important new initiative to save electricity and natural gas, declaring that the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency will help invigorate efforts to conserve and use energy more wisely.

The National Action Plan, unveiled during the summer meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), is facilitated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, with the participation of utilities, public utility commissions, energy consumers, and non-governmental groups. The National Action Plan's blueprint of options to consider sets a broad course for encouraging greater energy efficiency investment in the United States.

"The nation's electric utility industry recognizes that energy efficiency is a crucial part of the solution to today's volatile energy prices and formidable environmental challenges," Kuhn said. "The National Action Plan demonstrates the depth and diversity of support for this vision, and I commend co-chairs Jim Rogers (president and CEO, Duke Energy, and chairman of the Edison Electric Institute) and Diane Munns (commissioner, Iowa Utilities Board, and president of NARUC) for their leadership in helping make it a reality."

Kuhn also said that the plan underscores the important role that electric utilities play in promoting energy-efficiency improvements, noting the nearly 750 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) saved during the past 15 years because of the industry's efficiency programs.

"That is enough to power almost 69 million homes for one year. Between 2001 and 2004 alone, electric utilities invested more than $6 billion in energy-efficiency programs and services," he said.

However, Kuhn added, "We recognize there is much more work to do and a vast, untapped potential for realizing energy savings and efficiency."

Critical to that task is developing state regulatory policies that make energy efficiency a sustainable business for utilities. Kuhn said that EEI and its members look forward to working with state regulators to help create new regulatory and business models for energy efficiency, demand response and advanced consumer products.

"New technologies can give us more ways to save energy and empower customers to take control of their energy costs," said Kuhn.

A CEO-led effort within the electric utility industry has developed principles for guiding the industry in working with regulators, lawmakers, customers, and other stakeholders.

"The industry's new principles are consistent with the Action Plan's broad recommendations," Kuhn said. "Together, they will help to advance the industry's ongoing work in these key areas."

Kuhn outlined five key action areas that the industry will emphasize to help implement the principles:

- Helping foster more energy-efficient buildings;

- Promoting the development and deployment of more energy-efficient electric appliances, consumer electronics and other electric technologies;

- Accelerating the development and use of "smart," or advanced, electric meters;

- Supporting development of innovative electric ratemaking and rate design that promote efficiency and allows customers to control their electricity bills;

- Helping commercialize plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that will improve transportation efficiency, reduce fuel costs, improve the environment and help reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Edison Electric Institute (EEI) is the association of United States shareholder-owned electric companies, international affiliates and industry associates worldwide. Its U.S. members serve 97 percent of the ultimate customers in the shareholder-owned segment of the industry, and 71 percent of all electric utility ultimate customers in the nation. It generates almost 60 percent of the electricity produced by U.S. electric generators.