With one exception, the June 8 Maine Sunday Telegram article “Power use tumbles as efficiency kicks in” was right on the mark.

Hundreds of energy-saving actions by consumers in Maine and throughout the region are projected to keep the electric load from growing over the next decade. These investments are saving us $3 to $4 for every $1 invested, are helping to reduce emissions of unhealthy air pollutants and are creating local jobs and boosting the economy.

The article makes the mistake of conflating electric rates and electric bills, however. Maine energy director Patrick Woodcock is quoted as saying: “We’re making a lot of strides in energy efficiency, but it’s not translating into lower rates.”

Focusing solely on electric rates is not going to tell us if we are saving money. Electric bills are what people pay and what matter most to consumers. Energy efficiency reduces electric usage and lowers monthly bills.

I doubt many ratepayers even know what the electric rate, or cost per kilowatt-hour, is, but almost everyone knows how much their bill is. Energy efficiency lowers energy bills, and by avoiding the construction of expensive new transmission and distribution lines and the use of the most expensive power plants, over the longer term energy efficiency will also help keep rates lower than they otherwise would have been.

With no exceptions, energy efficiency is a good-news story for Maine and New England.

Beth A. Nagusky

senior attorney and Maine director, ENE (Environment Northeast) Rockport