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Groups: Utility energy efficiency can boost W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Three advocacy groups are calling on West Virginia regulators to require electric utilities to increase their investments in energy efficiency.

The Sierra Club, Energy Efficient West Virginia and the West Virginia Citizen Action Group released a report Wednesday that says West Virginia could gain 19,500 new jobs if FirstEnergy Corp. and American Electric Power Co. invest in energy efficiency projects.

The report by consultant Optimal Energy says maximizing energy efficiency potential could save the two utilities' customers $800 million over the life of these investments. According to the report, the savings would be $550 million more than what could be achieved under the utilities' current plans.

Bill Price with the Sierra Club says the utilities should invest in energy efficiency instead of acquiring new power plants.