Progress Energy, which is considering or planning to build new power plants from the Carolinas to Florida, filed plans on Monday showing how it could save power and still meet a growing population in its service area.

The proposal, which was submitted to the North Carolina Public Utilities Commission, spells out ways of saving 2,000 megawatt hours (MW) a year. Programs already implemented are saving 1,000 MW a year, the company said.

Each 1,0000 MW savings, or what Progress (NYSE: ) called “displacing” of megawatt hours, is equivalent to the power produced by six combustion-turbine power plants.

The company says it has the capacity to produce 21,000 megawatts of power per year.

“If people participate in these programs on average, we certainly could reduce the need to build plants – or at least delay it,” Progress spokesperson Cari Boyce said.

Progress said in May it would move to displace 100,000 MW. Monday’s filing “gives more depth to our program,” Boyce said, but she added that end users are key. “A lot depends on customer participation,” she explained.

Progress said in June that the possibility of building an additional nuclear plant at its Harris site in Wake County could be pushed back at least two years to 2018 “or beyond” if its energy initiatives proved to be effective in “reducing electricity demand.”.

Related to its efficiency initiative, the company has announced a commitment that it will not propose any new coal plants during this two-year evaluation period. In addition, Progress Energy has notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that if the company moves forward with plans for a new nuclear plant at the Harris site in Wake County (a decision that has not yet been made), the new plant would be online in 2018 or beyond, at least two years later than initial energy demand forecasts had indicated.

In October, Progress disclosed plans to invest between $700 million and $750 million in order to expand its electric generation capacity at a complex in Richmond County. Progress has also identified a site in Florida where a nuclear plant might be built in the future.

The project, which Progress said is needed to meet growing demands for power, should be completed by mid-2011, the company said in a statement. However, the project still requires regulatory approval. The new power unit would be fueled primarily by natural gas and generate 570-megawatts of power.

Progress is also considering the building of a nuclear power plant in Florida.

The “energy efficiency plan” as Progress called it is part of an Integrated Resource Plan that spells out a utility company’s plans in a coming decade.

Highlights as spelled out by Progress in a statement:

• “Installation of new load-control technologies for controlling air conditioners and water heaters to help reduce on-peak energy use in homes and businesses.

• “Programs targeted toward residential new construction and improving existing residential heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) efficiency through proper HVAC maintenance, high-efficiency equipment upgrades, and attic insulation improvements as well as duct testing and repair.

• “Programs for government, commercial and industrial customers that target new construction and retrofits of existing facilities.

• “Increased energy education and awareness, including in-home energy assessments and the use of new digital displays that provide real-time energy use and cost information for homeowners.”

If consumer response to a recent Progress initiative is an indication of future support, many might look favorably on other Progress ideas.

Progress offered to sell up to 200,000 energy saving compact fluorescent light bulbs at a discounted price through Home Depot. Through Dec. 2, more than 170,000 had been sold.

“We’ve had overwhelming support,” Boyce said. “We still have another month to go, so at that rate we should easily sell out.”

The company also has launched an educational program about saving energy called Save the Watts.

"Our communities are growing rapidly and we expect to add between 25,000 and 30,000 new homes and businesses annually over the next two decades," said Lloyd Yates, president and CEO – Progress Energy Carolinas, in a statement about the latest PUC filing. "One of the greenest ways to meet our area’s increasing electricity needs is through a substantial expansion of our energy efficiency programs. These programs help our customers save energy, save money and reduce the emissions that contribute to global climate change.

"We are making significant investment in education and outreach to find the programs that really work for our customers. At the same time, we are aggressively pursuing renewable energy technologies and upgrading our existing plants to ensure that they operate as cleanly and efficiently as possible. As the growth in our communities requires new generation, we will invest in state-of-the-art plants to provide the clean, reliable, affordable power our customers expect," he added.

Progress and other utility firms also face requirements from the North Carolina General Assembly to use more renewable energy sources in power generation.