SPEERMore than $200 million — that’s the amount all Texans could have saved if a modest number of them had reduced their electric consumption for only five days in 2012 and 2013, according to a new report.

An advocacy group known as SPEER (also known as South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource) found in a report released this week that several expensive-to-operate power plants could have remained idle if some Texans had reduced their power demand during a few hours on certain key days.  Avoiding the use of those expensive-to-operate power plants would lead to substantial overall electricity savings, according to the report.

SPEER conducted its analysis by reviewing historical data provided by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the organization that operates the state’s primary electricity grid.

“Data available from ERCOT allowed us to accurately estimate the savings for these two recent mild years,” said Doug Lewin, SPEER Executive Director.  “Savings in more extreme weather years such as 2011 would be significantly higher.”

SPEER notes that billions of dollars have been spent on automated meters that — at least potentially — could allow Texans to control their electricity consumption during key periods. But customer participation in “demand response” programs to make use of that functionality remains modest.

Two bills considered during the ongoing legislative session would have helped promote the sort of programs championed by SPEER. They are House Bill 3343 by Rep. Sylvester Turner and Senate Bill 1284 by Sen. Kirk Watson. Both bills are stuck in committee and appear dead.

SPEER advocates for the creation of energy efficiency products in Texas and Oklahoma. The organization’s new report can be found here.

— R.A. Dyer