The state Office of Energy Independence has released its plan with recommendations for increasing energy efficiency and energy production statewide. The plan recommends that utilities be required to achieve at least a 1.5% reduction in retail energy sales per year over the next five years.

The report says utilities should be required to demonstrate they have pursued all available energy efficiency and demand reduction resources that are cost effective before they are granted regulatory permission to expand their energy production.

Sean Bagniewski of the Office of Energy Independence says the plan gives the state a place to start. He says they see it as a corollary to the power fund, as the fund tries to fund the projects in the private sector, but the energy independence plan is something everyone can take part in. Bagniewski says they are a way to get the idea of energy independence rolling.

Bagniewski says they don’t know for sure if all the recommendations will be passed or implemented, but they believe they are a good conversation starter. The renewable energy recommendations include promoting wind energy, small scale distribution generation, and the biomass industry. The energy efficiency recommendations also include calls for promoting and coordination the efforts.

Bagniewski says whether its and executive order from the governor, or a new law from the legislature, they feel something needs to be done to get the efforts started to get them implemented. State revenues are down, so spending on renewable energy and efficiency programs might not be at the front of the list of priorities. But Bagniewski says the Power Fund has shown that the investment is important.

He says the fund has spent about $29-million, but that spending has brought in about $180 million leveraged from private sources and the federal government. So, he says the benefits outweigh the cost. You can see the entire plan on the  Office of Energy Independence’s website .