Implementing energy efficiency: Challenges and opportunities for rural electric co-operatives and small municipal utilities
Challenges in implementing demand side management (DSM) programs in rural electric co-operatives and small municipal utilities are not well understood, yet these organizations sell roughly 15% of electricity in the US, many are more coal-intensive than investor-owned utilities (IOUs), and they are politically important--rural electric co-operatives cover about 75% of the US land area and municipal utilities are found in every state except Hawaii. We provide a background on rural co-operatives and municipal utilities in the context of the US electric sector and highlight the challenges and opportunities of implementing DSM programs in these institutions. Where past studies of utility DSM have mostly focused on IOUs or consisted of qualitative case studies of municipal utilities with exemplary DSM performance, this study makes a unique contribution to the DSM literature by systematically analyzing an entire co-operative and municipal utility population in Minnesota through the use of a survey. In doing so, we provide policy recommendations relevant to energy planners and policy makers to support DSM in rural electric co-operatives and municipal utilities.
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