Mississippi’s transformation into an energy efficiency focused state began in 2010 with the introduction of Docket No. 2010-AD-2, which established a collaborative effort between the Mississippi Public Service Commission and a diverse group of stakeholders tasked with investigating the development and implementation of energy efficiency programs and standards in the state.

In 2012, Governor Phil Bryant signaled Mississippi’s growing commitment to energy efficiency with the report Energy Works: Mississippi’s Energy Roadmap, and made statements in his State of the State Address regarding the importance of energy efficiency in “exploring new ways to fuel our economic growth.â€

In July of 2013, the Public Service Commission issued a final order adopting Rule 29, Conservation and Energy Programs, which established Mississippi’s first statewide utility energy efficiency initiatives.

Mississippi at a Glance

Statewide EERS: None

Primary Energy Sources: 35% crude oil, 28% nuclear electric power, 15% natural gas, 13% other renewable energy & 9% coal (Source)

Energy Efficiency Approach: Mississippi is an up and coming leader of energy efficiency in the South, incorporating local and regional programs for utilities of all sizes and offering loan programs as well as leasing of energy efficiency equipment and rebates for lighting and appliances.

Energy Initiatives: Mississippi offers statewide initiatives including energy appliance rebates, custom incentive programs, and waivers for those who take voluntary action in energy efficiency that meet state requirements.

Mississippi Overview

With its implementation of Rule 29 (Conservation and Energy Efficiency Programs), Mississippi required utilities with 25,000 meters or more to turn in Quick Start plans within six months of the law’s passing. Utilities suddenly needed to have a plan to become more energy efficient and meet the requirements of the state. The utilities responded by launching a number of energy efficiency programs, including customer education, energy audits, heating and ventilation inspections, lighting and appliance rebates, and incentive programs.

Mississippi budgeted $26 million over the 3-year phase of the Quick Start phase to achieve their savings goals of 125,000 Mcf in natural gas and 120,000 mWh in electricity. An additional consideration is that all submitted energy efficiency programs will be evaluated based on Cost Benefit tests. The four tests used are the Total Resource Cost, Program Administrator Costs, Participant Cost Test, and Rate Impact Measure. These results will be evaluated on both a program-level as well as for the entire portfolio.

Public utilities can ask the Mississippi Public Service Commission for an Energy Efficiency Cost Recovery (EECR) rider in order to recover the costs of these programs.

Utility companies that have already established energy efficiency programs must still participate in Rule 29 or submit a waiver. No utilities were granted exceptions to Rule 29, although six electric power associations who submitted these waivers were found to already be in compliance based on their performance in a voluntary program for energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Programs

The Mississippi government has set requirements for public buildings and fleets for energy efficiency. ASHRAE 90.1-2010, passed in 2013, set a mandatory statewide energy standard for commercial buildings. These standards also apply to facilities owned by the state.

The Mississippi Sustainability and Development Act of 2013 calls for all state agencies to create Energy Management Plans with the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) and to report energy use and cost or pay fines. Agencies must participate in a State Energy Management Program, where their energy usage will be tracked and plans will be developed to reduce energy usage.

In addition, Mississippi Code Sec. 25-1-77 demands that a minimum of 75% of all state-owned vehicles must meet the fuel standards of 40 miles per gallon, in addition to promoting the use of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

Mississippi Predictions

Mississippi is on track to cut both energy usage and cost with their energy efficiency programs and initiatives. By engaging utilities of all sizes and implementing comprehensive portfolio programs for larger utilities, Mississippi ensures that energy efficiency is a priority statewide.

The programs that Rule 29 implements build a foundation to support more comprehensive programs in the future as well as providing support to all classes of customers, including low-income families and the government. The over $12 million dollars allocated through 2016 will provide plenty of resources to implement these programs.

Rule 29 changes the way utilities in Mississippi relate to their customers. With this ruling, incentives such as rebates and customer education programs will be offered to all customers, from families to small businesses to industrial facilities. Rule 29 enables utilities to educate their customers about how they can save money and have more control of their utility bills through energy efficiency.

Rule 29 requires that utilities—both large and small—not only consider their impact on energy usage but also make plans to change it. Utilities must also incorporate energy efficiency programs and customer education into their budget.

This is a big change for Mississippi, which ranked last on ACEEE’s energy efficiency scorecard in 2012 and is now implementing major changes and potentially paving the way for other states to do the same. Implementing these programs shows that Mississippi is dedicated to improving the way it uses energy.

How Lime Energy Can Help Utilities Comply With Rule 29

Lime Energy delivers proven, high-impact energy efficiency direct install programs that meet both the Quick Start and the Comprehensive Portfolio requirements for Mississippi utility companies. By effectively engaging small businesses, our programs fill an underserved niche that represents significant energy savings for utility providers, and gives them a powerful tool toward meeting Rule 29 requirements.

Rule 29 focuses on all of a utility’s customers, not just large commercial facilities or residences. In traditional programs, small businesses can easily get lost in the mix as they typically lack the time, money, or knowledge to participate in energy efficiency programs typically designed for larger commercial users.

The small business segment represents 50% of commercial square footage in the U.S. market and 80% of commercial energy consumption. When small business owners are not properly engaged, energy efficiency programs run the risk of not reaching their goals. Energy efficiency programs in Mississippi need to engage the small business segment of the market to be successful.

Traditionally, energy efficiency programs have had difficulties cost-effectively reaching the small business segment of the market. Small business owners don’t have the time or technical knowledge to pursue the complicated programs usually offered to large commercial users. They don’t have the cash flow for up-front investments in large retrofit projects and they don’t have access to easy, affordable financing to make the project worthwhile.

Lime Energy has successfully overcome these challenges by creating an integrated approach that reaches small business owners in their place of business and guides them step-by-step through the entire process. Our feet-on-the-street approach involves Energy Service Representatives meeting and engaging small business owners in their business, performing a quick energy audit, and selling the program to the customer, right on the spot. This award-winning integrated approach provides reliable energy efficiency resources and delivers the highest levels of customer satisfaction.

Together with our utility partners, we have saved small business owners hundreds of millions of dollars, and we have supported energy efficiency regulatory compliance for dozens of utilities across the United States.

With our small business direct install programs, Lime Energy can help Mississippi utilities meet Rule 29 standards by providing reliable energy savings with next-level customer engagement and satisfaction. These solutions, enhanced by flexible financing options for small businesses, can result in hundreds of thousands of MWh savings.

Let us show you how our proven programs can work for your utility. Contact Lime Energy’s utility energy efficiency expert, Alex Castro, for further information on how we can help your utility. We look forward to hearing from you!