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Energy Efficiency and Health & Safety Measures: An Innovative Idea to Measure Success by More Than Just KWh

Posted By Anastasia Claxon, Wednesday, September 16, 2020
 

Energy Efficiency and Health & Safety Measures: An Innovative Idea to Measure Success by More Than Just KWh
 
By Tom McAteer
 
mcateert_1025328.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the benefits of adding health and safety measures to the routine in-home energy audit for income-eligible customers. For example, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation recently released its Energy-Plus-Health Playbook, which advocates aligning energy efficiency efforts with health and safety measures.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a white paper touting the public health benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

While combining energy audits and health and safety measures isn’t as flashy as technological changes, this innovative idea could lead to safer homes, lower electric bills and happier customers.

So, why the interest? It’s a combination of developments that have helped raise this issue to the forefront including—most importantly—leveling the playing field for income-eligible customers.

First, a little background. Many utilities across the nation have programs to help income-eligible customers pay their bills. Income-eligible customers typically pay a higher proportion of their available income for utility bills. Customers often have to choose between buying food and paying their bills.

While energy efficiency programs are a great way to trim energy costs for income-eligible customers, often the work can’t be completed due to health and safety issues associated with low-income housing. Those issues include environmental hazards such as asbestos, pest infestations, mold and lead paint, as well as structural issues such as damaged and leaking roof assemblies and electrical hazards.

For example, in an extreme case from Georgia, an energy audit conducted as part of the state’s Weatherization Assistance Program in October revealed a major gas leak and an exposed wire in their attic that was burning insulation and causing smoke. The couple didn’t have carbon monoxide or smoke detectors in their home and the smoke soon turned into a fire after the couple was evacuated from the home. If not for energy audit, the couple’s safety would have been severely endangered.

Shifting the focus of these energy efficiency programs from purely kWh savings to include health and safety repairs could pay benefits for the customers, utilities, energy-efficiency companies and society:

•    Customers: There is a higher instance of poor housing stock, structural issues and failing buildings in the income-qualified customer base. Removing the many obstacles to energy efficiency by allocating funds for such repairs, enables the customer to realize greater energy efficiency and makes bills more affordable.
•    Utilities: Shifting away from a purely kWh-savings model allows utilities to better serve their most needy customers, which should lead to fewer payment plans, customer shut-offs (in a worst-case scenario) and greater customer satisfaction.
•    Energy-Efficiency Companies: There’s no worse feeling for my co-workers and peers in the industry than to arrive at a home ready to make a difference in a customer’s life only to be stopped by safety or health issues.
•    Society: Improving the air quality of a home through air sealing and ventilation, heating and cooling system upgrades and, most importantly, removing health and safety risks can dramatically improve the health of people. These steps can alleviate asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and other chronic respiratory conditions, according to a growing body of research.

As you can see, there are many winners when utilities include health and safety repairs in the typical in-home energy efficiency audit. Ultimately, though, there’s really only one reason we should consider doing this: It’s the right thing to do.

Tom McAteer is a senior program manager at CMC Energy Services.
 
 

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A broad Roundup of Covid-19 Impacts on the Energy community

Posted By Anastasia Claxon, Monday, September 14, 2020

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A broad Roundup of Covid-19 Impacts on the Energy community
 
Special for AESP by Paul Korzeniowski
 
The coronavirus pandemic swiftly shut down the global economy. To slow the spread of the disease, companies closed shop, and consumers hunkered down in their homes. The sudden and dramatic changes has profoundly reshaped how the energy efficiency community operates. The impact is being seen in shifting energy loads, a financial shakeup, a revamping of energy efficiency employees’ workday, new cybersecurity threats, and the stalling of legislation.
 
 
Energy Load Shifts Because of Coronavirus
 
Energy is one of the prime drivers of the U.S. economy. The country consumes about 100 quadrillion BTUs  of energy per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. When the nation grinded to a sudden stop, one ripple effect is individuals and businesses doing less: less work, no group gatherings, limited commuting, fewer face-to-face interactions and only necessary traveling. The end result translates into consuming less energy. How much less is a fluctuating calculation. Bloomberg found that in Italy electric power demand dropped 7% once comprehensive restrictions were put into place.
 
Another change came in how energy was consumed, because how people spent the week changed significantly. The typical weekday rush to the city where individuals housed themselves in cubicles was replaced by waking up and booting up a home computer to either work remotely; look for work if one joined the unemployed rolls; or keep oneself and little ones busy.
 
Many individuals had more free time: no morning and evening commutes, trips to the gym, visits to client sites, going to the movies, eating out, or attending sporting events. They passed the time watching videos and streaming shows; reading books and ebooks; Facetiming; and playing video games.  As the shutdown took hold in South Korea, Italy, and Seattle, residential Internet rose 40%, according to National Public Radio.
 
So what does that mean for the grid? Less energy is needed in the typical weekday hubs, such as urban downtowns and office parks. More energy is consumed in suburban neighborhoods. In sum, the weekly energy usage pattern closely resembled the traditional weekend.
 
 
The Financial Impact  
 
The financial area is another spot in need of significant adjustment. As companies shut down, the economic engine got stuck in neutral. Goldman Sachs projected that U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP, the amount of money that the country generates) would drop by 34%. The negative economic news cast a large shadow. Companies closed up temporarily or in some cases for good, and individuals were laid off. In the last two weeks in the second quarter, the U.S. set a new record for unemployment claims at close to 10 million.
 
As people are put out of work and corporations close up shop, they have trouble paying their bills. Many state legislatures passed measures asking and, in some cases, forcing energy companies to provide grace periods for individuals, families, and businesses that were not in a position to pay their monthly utility bills. Eventually, energy companies may eat those costs and have less revenue to cover their own expenses, including funding energy efficiency initiatives. The downturn also reduced tax revenue, so local and state governments have less to fund such programs as well.
 
Given their dire economic situation, will consumers look to energy efficiency to trim their expenses? Nationwide, households need to cut back, and reducing their energy bills is one way to curb expenses. In response, utility energy efficiency education efforts picked up.
 
Northwestern Energy and San Diego Gas & Electric, among others, posted energy saving tips for people working at home on their web sites.
 
 
Boots Placed Carefully on the Ground  
 
When the emergency was announced, many energy companies closed offices and sent personnel home to work. Most managers could work remotely if they had the right home technology. Such issues were more complicated for groups, such as field service teams, who visit customers’ homes, offices, and retail establishments. Were they shut down? Within the electricity sector, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) listed nine categories of workers as critical, including mutual assistance personnel; workers at generation, transmission and electric blackstart facilities; and workers needed for safe and secure operations at nuclear generation.
 
Utility companies took steps to ensure their staff’s safety on the job. They enacted hygiene practices when individuals enter or leave a facility.  In another example, Southern California Edison suspended all energy audits and instead began promoting its online energy tool for residential customers. In all utilities, when making emergency visits to homes or businesses, employees need to outfit themselves with gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer.
 
 
Cybersecurity Measures Ramp Up
 
Amid the pandemic also emerges humanity’s dark side. CISA noted that hackers were trying to use the global health pandemic to their advantage. A rise in malware and phishing hit as criminals tried to leverage the mass confusion to wedge their way into enterprise computer systems. CISA noted that threats against critical national infrastructure also rose. Health care facilities were the main target but energy grids represent another possible target.  In response, CISA recommended that utilities closely monitor and update as necessary their security checks, such as Virtual Private Networks, user authentication, and encryption that they rely on to protect sensitive company and customer information.
 

Legislation Stalls
 
Energy efficiency legislation took a hit. The federal government’s $2 trillion stimulus bill did not include any funding for energy efficiency initiatives. Progress on state initiatives was muted in a number of cases.
 
Maryland’s Climate Solutions Act focused mainly on reducing carbon emissions, but included passages designed to spur energy efficiency. The bill increased mandated annual efficiency savings to 2.8%, up from its current 2% requirement and all new buildings meet net-zero emissions standards. Another possible bill was designed to help low-income households increase energy efficiency, setting an annual incremental gross energy savings of at least 1% starting in 2021.
 
In Minnesota, HF 4502 is essentially an update and modernization of the state’s previous energy efficiency goals. The new bill includes a number of energy efficiency measures and is designed to boost its annual energy efficiency savings to 2.5%
 

The Clean-up Awaits
 
The Covid-19 pandemic impacted humanity across the globe. In the energy efficiency arena, companies were hit with changes that made it more difficult to push energy efficiency initiatives forward, inevitably resulting in staff layoffs. Like other areas, the clean-up from these ripple effects is expected to be felt in the coming months and years.
 
 

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Capturing More Savings and Integrating Quality of Light Metrics into High-Performing LED Lighting

Posted By Anastasia Claxon, Friday, September 11, 2020

Capturing More Savings and Integrating Quality of Light Metrics into High-Performing LED Lighting   

 

By Liesel Whitney-Schulte

schulteapr2020strategies_1024823.jpgA January 2020 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report on LED lighting offers some good news for utility energy efficiency programs seeking to incent more savings for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. Energy Savings Forecast of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications projects that, if DOE Lighting R & D goals are met, energy savings from LED lighting will approach 570 terawatt-hours annually by 2035 – equal to the output of more than 92 1,000 megawatt electric power plants. From 2017 to 2035, the DOE states, cumulative energy savings worth approximately $890 billion are possible, with most projected savings driven by increased use of LEDs in C & I buildings and outdoor settings.

 
 
“Increased controllability” is among the characteristics expected to provide greatest value by the end of this period, the DOE report states. This finding aligns with the DesignLights Consortium implementing a new version of its Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Technical Requirements – a policy that seeks to promote advances in controllability and quality of light while continuing the DLC’s decade-long push to maximize energy efficiency.
 
Taking effect in two phases, the DLC’s SSL V5.0 and V5.1 were crafted with an eye toward optimizing the benefits of quality of light and controls as LED technology matures. The new requirements for luminaires approved for the DLC’s Qualified Products List (QPL) support additional energy savings while promoting better quality of light for people living and working in the built environment. Currently containing over 550,000 products, the DLC’s QPL is a trusted resource consulted by scores of utility efficiency programs across North America.
 
The DLC released its SSL V5.0 and V5.1 policy on a conceptual level last year and followed up with a second draft on September 30, 2019. After considering over 1,000 stakeholder comments and meeting with DLC members, the DLC determined it was appropriate to release the policy versions at the same time in February 2020, but with different effective dates. Version 5.0 continues the focus on energy savings by increasing efficacy requirements for QPL products by an average of 11.7 percent (up to 22 percent for some products) without compromising the quality of light. This follows past practice, as the DLC has boosted efficiency standards three times since publication of its initial QPL in 2009 – increasing required efficiency by 20 to 30 percent (depending on product type) in 2013, introducing a “Premium” designation worthy of higher utility incentives in 2015, and upping the efficiency ante again by 30 to 40 percent in 2016.
 
V5.0 also moves the LED market in a more controls-focused direction, with new dimming requirements for most indoor luminaires and retrofit kits, as well as for DLC Premium products. Since LEDs installed now may run for a decade or more, strengthening controllability requirements (such as dimming and integrated controls for daylight and occupancy) at the time of installation locks in potential energy and cost savings for years to come.
 
The DLC began accepting manufacturers’ QPL applications under V5.0 requirements on February 18. Products that don’t meet the V5.0 requirements will remain on the QPL until the end of a transition period on December 31, 2020, and then delisted.
 
Taking effect in July, the SSL V5.1 Technical Requirements will include several quality-of-light objectives, establishing standards for characteristics such as color performance, glare, and light distribution. The policy also covers dimming requirements and reporting on integrated controls and control communication protocol for all DLC-listed products, including indoor lamps and exterior luminaires. Products that do not meet the V5.1 requirements will remain on the QPL until December 31, 2021, after which they will be delisted.
 
The DLC’s phased approach incorporates useful feedback received from an array of stakeholders and ensures that movement of the market in this important new direction is both expeditious and realistic.

During the transition periods for both V5.0 and V5.1, the DLC is providing utility energy efficiency program administrators with supporting guidance. These resources include program design guidance, outreach materials for trade allies and C&I customers, and educational materials for new metrics as administrators incorporate these new measures into their programs.
 
“As the lighting incentive world changes so must the specifications that guide them,” said Chris Wolgamott, Senior Product Manager, Technology and Product Management, at Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, a regional alliance of Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations. “V5 gives utilities the ability to think about adapting their lighting programs to include load shedding/demand response.  Without an agreed upon set of specifications for controllability as a basis for LS/DR, we would have a difficult time vetting systems to make sure they can do what the programs need them to do.”
 
The DLC’s V5 requirements come amid recent technology advances and market shifts. As the LED market has matured over the past decade, a drive to reduce production costs in the face of mounting competition has tended to sideline the importance of product quality aspects such as glare control and color quality. The DLC’s new policy recognizes the end-user value of these quality of light aspects by supporting development and deployment of efficient lighting that also provides an array of non-energy benefits.
   
Additional details are available in a Manufacturer and Industry Guidance document . Also we will dive further into this topic in AESP’s webinar next week on April 16, 1pm ET: Light it Up: DLC policy changes and impacts for utilities.” It’s free for AESP members, so REGISTER TODAY.
 
DLC Program Director Liesel Whitney-Schulte is responsible for stakeholder outreach and engagement, program design and development, and provides support for the Solid-State Lighting Qualified Product List and Networked Lighting Controls, and Horticultural Lighting programs, to help advance quality lighting products in the market.

This article is contributed by the AESP Implementation Topic Committee.
 
 

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Energy Code Support: The Next Frontier for Residential New Construction Programs

Posted By Adeline Lui, Friday, September 11, 2020
Updated: Friday, September 11, 2020
 
By Michael Turns
 
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BruceChen1.pngIncreasing baselines

Rising baselines present significant challenges to the implementation of cost-effective energy efficiency programs, especially Residential New Construction (RNC) programs. While RNC programs offer significant and long-lasting energy savings, their cost-effectiveness is often hampered by cost tests that curtail measure lives and incorporate savings from only one fuel. This discussion focuses on RNC opportunities, but similar opportunities exist in nonresidential sectors. 

RNC program baselines are typically based on a combination of state-adopted energy code and federal minimum appliance and lighting standards. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a national model energy code, typically serves as the basis for building thermal envelope and duct system efficiencies while federal standards govern HVAC and major appliances. Lighting baselines are a mix of energy code requirements for high-efficacy lighting and federal efficiency standards (EISA). In many cases, states make their own amendments to the model code, which are then also included in the baseline. Less commonly, the baseline is based on industry standard practices. 

Between 2006 and 2012, the IECC went through a period of rapid advancement with each three-year code cycle bringing an efficiency increase of around 15 percent. This resulted in an RNC baseline that is roughly 30 percent more efficient than a decade ago. These efficiency increases came mainly from greatly reduced limits on building envelope and duct leakage, but improvements in envelope insulation, windows, and lighting also contributed to the change. At the same time, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2017 has increased the lighting savings baseline by 25 percent and could eliminate lighting savings altogether unless proposed EISA rollbacks take effect. 

With these advancements, the easy-to-obtain RNC savings have largely been wiped out. But, as states adopt more efficient energy codes, they might not be reaping the intended savings. Energy code compliance can be very inconsistent as code enforcement usually occurs at the level of the local municipality or county. This results in widely divergent enforcement and compliance and the realization of only a fraction of the anticipated savings. This gap presents opportunities for utilities and program implementers to provide services that result in real savings.  

A Novel Approach to Achieving Savings

A seminal paper1 written by a team led by The Cadmus Group on behalf of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP), describes an innovative program type where utilities claim savings for providing energy code training, outreach, technical assistance, and other compliance support activities. The basic premise is that energy code compliance is less than 100 percent and that services provided by utilities and their implementers can improve compliance and yield measurable energy savings. The paper describes a general method for utility attribution that involves executing a baseline assessment of energy code compliance, engaging in compliance improvement activities, and performing a post-intervention assessment. Strategies for determining the resulting energy savings include direct empirical measurement, indirect estimation, and expert judgement. 
A1P1.pngSavings Potential

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Energy Codes Program has made significant investments in proving this concept. Most recently, DOE invested $6 million to execute parallel energy code assessments and support programs in eight states – a project called the DOE Residential Energy Code Field Study2. For this project, implementers performed compliance assessments in accordance with a DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) protocol involving data collection on a broad array of energy code features from homes under construction or recently completed. PNNL then analyzed the data on eight key measures to estimate the statewide energy savings potential. In addition, the initial assessments provided actionable information to target training and outreach efforts to construction and code enforcement professionals.  
 
The final analyses are still underway, but the baseline study reports from the eight states describe first-year statewide savings potentials with a median value of $1.5 million. For a sense of scale, the statewide electricity savings potential in Pennsylvania is equal to 1.7 times the combined annual electricity savings goals for the state’s utility-run RNC programs. Furthermore, the measures included in the analyses generally have long lifetimes (for example, Massachusetts and Arizona assign a 20-year measure life to their energy codes programs).
 
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Energy Code Compliance Support

Once a state or region has performed a baseline compliance assessment, an implementer steps in to improve compliance through training, outreach, and other support. Utilities and program implementers are energy code compliance enablers, not enforcers. Programs typically include a combination of classroom and online training, fact sheets, field guides, plan review and inspection checklists, performance testing verification forms, technical assistance hotlines/emails, and custom technical assistance. These activities also represent a tremendous opportunity for cross-promotion of RNC programs. 

Evaluation and Attribution

Following the implementation of a compliance support program, the utility’s evaluator or other entity performs a follow-up compliance assessment, often including field data collection. (This evaluation may also be used as the baseline for the next round of code support activities.) Ideally, these assessments occur on a three-year cycle in conjunction with a state’s adoption of the next version of the model energy code. Once the post-intervention assessment is complete, the evaluator estimates the energy savings, usually through energy modeling based on field-collected data. This represents the gross savings, but multiple factors contribute to improvements in code compliance, including concurrent non-program training activities and the natural evolution of markets over time. Net savings are determined via expert judgment (e.g. Delphi panels) or assigned based on a negotiated attribution factor.

Energy Codes and Standards Adoption Support

Another common aspect of energy codes programs involves support of the adoption of more efficient energy codes and state appliance standards. Utilities participate in public energy codes and standards development processes and provide a variety of technical assistance including analyses of feasibility, costs, and benefits of proposed standards. 
 
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Cost-Effectiveness

Energy codes programs can be among the most cost-effective in a utility’s portfolio. In 2016, the Statewide Codes and Standards Program accounted for more than half the SoCalGas gas and electric portfolio savings at 2.2 percent of the total portfolio cost3. The main reason for the low cost is that direct incentives are not required. Typically, the only costs are for program administration, marketing, and evaluation with savings applied across the entire volume of new construction in a utility’s territory. 
 
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Energy Code Compliance Programs in Action

Compliance Programs

Several states lead the country in terms of utility attribution for energy code compliance support. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the Program Administrators (PAs) have received electric and gas savings attribution for their Codes and Standards Compliance and Support Initiative. The 2018 statewide residential and commercial savings attributed to the PAs was approximately 8,700 MWh and 980,000 therms. Now in its second phase, the initiative’s training programs and webinars have seen over 3,000 attendees in the last 18 months. Attendees of each training event complete post-training evaluation surveys, which are used by evaluators (along with other information) to perform process assessments and attribute savings. Training slides and webinar recordings are archived on the program website along with guides, fact sheets, checklists, answers to frequently-asked-questions, and a technical assistance hotline number and email address.  

In California, the Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) implement the Statewide Codes and Standards Program, which includes the Compliance Improvement (CI) subprogram4. Savings are not specifically attributed to the CI subprogram, but the broader program (described below) does receive savings attribution. 

In addition, several Illinois utilities are currently funding a statewide energy code compliance collaborative, a baseline residential energy code field study, and have included a potential energy compliance training program in their 2018-2020 filings. Other states with utility or other program sponsors supporting energy code compliance include (but are not limited to) New York and the Northwestern states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.  

Adoption Programs

California and Arizona lead in terms of utility-attributed savings from energy code adoption support. In California, the Statewide Codes and Standards Program includes five subprograms: Building Codes Advocacy, Appliance Standards Advocacy, Compliance Improvement, Reach Codes, and Planning and Coordination. In terms of energy code adoption support, the Building Codes Advocacy subprogram seeks to change national model codes and targets improvements to its Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards. The utilities’ activities include developing code enhancement proposals and participating in public rulemaking processes to advance the energy code. In 2013-2014, the California utilities claimed a whopping net savings of 1,117,000 MWh and 9,900,000 therms with a budget of $28 million5. This equates to a cost of $0.02/kWh and $0.58/therm. 

Arizona’s Electric Energy Efficiency Standards allow for utilities to claim up to one-third of the energy savings resulting from energy codes as quantified through a measurement and evaluation study. Arizona is a “home rule” state where local jurisdictions are responsible for adopting new energy codes, so Arizona Public Service (APS) works with the local jurisdictions to support the adoption of the most recent model codes. In 2016, APS claimed 4,539 MWh in net annual savings (after applying the 1/3 attribution rate) and 2.3 MW of demand savings6.  

The Massachusetts PAs recently are also poised to claim savings from energy codes and standards adoption support with their 2019-2021 Three-Year Plan including “support for the development of enhanced energy codes and product standards at the state and national levels.”  This constitutes an expansion of their compliance initiative and will include efforts to “advance the adoption of progressively more efficient energy codes, including stretch codes, and efficiency standards for appliances and equipment.”

In the Pacific Northwest, several utilities help fund the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) whose program portfolio includes an energy codes program with the stated goals of advancing the adoption and implementation of increasingly efficient energy codes and standards to lock in long-term savings. In this case, the utilities do not receive savings attribution but fund the program as what is often characterized as a market transformation effort. 
 
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Regulatory Frameworks to Enable Codes Programs  

To fully enable utility-sponsored energy code compliance and adoption programs, there must be a supportive regulatory environment. This could come in the form of legislation that specifically allows utilities to claim savings from codes activities or enables implementation of market transformation programs. Or, public utility commissions or equivalent regulatory bodies may be able to amend or clarify regulations to explicitly allow for codes programs. Finally, in some cases, utilities may get approval for codes programs through their normal energy efficiency plan filing processes. 

One common hurdle to acceptance of codes programs is the perspective that the energy code is the law (which it is), so ratepayer funds should not be used to support what is already required.  In the real world however, numerous studies demonstrate that energy code compliance is lacking, resulting in lost energy savings opportunities. Another challenge is the difficultly measuring, quantifying, and attributing savings from codes programs. While these are indeed challenges, there are established and documented protocols for measuring energy code compliance and compliance changes over time, along with associated savings. 

Next Steps

As of this writing, 19 states have completed or initiated a baseline energy code compliance assessment using the DOE/PPNL field study methodology. Several others periodically assess compliance using similar methods. Utilities and program sponsors interested in exploring codes opportunities should review the results of these studies and speak with codes program evaluators or implementers to assess the savings potential and cost-effectiveness of an energy codes program. Utilities should also explore the potential for resource acquisition or market transformation codes programs that operate in tandem with their new construction programs. As the easy energy savings opportunities disappear due to rising baselines, utilities should examine the potential of energy codes programs to yield high savings at a low cost.  
 
 
Michael Turns is the Director of Energy Codes and New Construction Programs at Performance Systems Development (PSD). He manages PSD's activities as the lead vendor for the Massachusetts Codes and Standards Compliance and Support Initiative and was the principal investigator for U.S. DOE-funded Pennsylvania Residential Energy Code Field Study. He can be reached at mturns@psdconsulting.com

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What is energy efficiency (EE)?

Posted By Alexandra Verhein, Monday, March 11, 2019

 
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by Emily Pearce, Johnathon Fata and Jennifer Allen

What is energy efficiency (EE)?

PearceEmily.pngIf I have to explain to my family one more time what my job is, I might lose it! For the most part, every time I tell someone how I work in energy efficiency, they respond with “oh I’m thinking about getting solar for my house” or “my neighbor just bought an electric vehicle” which is great, but not really what I’m talking about. Sigh. Not only is energy mainly out of sight, out of mind, but energy efficiency is two levels below that. And for the most part, that’s why we like it. However, as the number of us, along with our devices and vehicles connected to the grid increases, so does our need to reduce our consumption and emissions. This critical time in our energy history is part of what makes it so interesting to work in efficiency and so challenging to keep up with. Whether you are brand new to the profession or if you’ve been working in EE for decades, there’s always something to be gained by going back to the fundamentals.  

FataJohnathon.pngSo, let’s start at the beginning. At its most basic, energy efficiency refers to the reduction of energy consumption by using less energy to attain the same amount of useful output. For example, a 6-watt LED bulb uses 90% less energy than a 60-watt incandescent bulb but provides the same level of light. Or a well-insulated office will use less energy for heating and cooling to achieve a comfortable temperature than a poorly insulated office. And if it isn’t obvious, why do we want to use less energy? We’ll get into that in greater detail below, but reduced costs, increased grid reliability, and lowered emissions are a few good ones, just to start. And who are the individuals, players and stakeholders benefitting from energy efficiency? In short, everyone.

 
 

AllenJennifer.pngWhether you’re a homeowner, business owner, retailer, manufacturer, renter or anyone else who uses energy, there are technologies and programs to help you save energy. For the energy efficiency industry within the built environment (i.e. the spaces we work and live in) buildings are broken out by utilities, technology manufacturers and service providers by market sectors. Generally speaking, buildings are categorized into commercial, industrial or residential sectors. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of how these three sectors utilize electricity within each sector and compared with one another1.

Already, we’ve started to see how the energy efficiency industry becomes quite complicated and can be quite confusing, even for industry veterans. Throughout the rest of this article, we’ll attempt to provide a detailed yet clear and concise description of the history, drivers, barriers and players in energy efficiency.
 
 
 
 

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History

We can trace the real beginning of energy efficiency to the 1973 oil embargo, wherein the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stopped exporting oil to the U.S. The oil embargo exposed our vulnerability and reliance on foreign oil that had not previously been experienced by the U.S. and got the attention of all Americans. In addition, there were other factors at play at this time -- like high inflation, high prices for goods and concerns over lack of resources that led the U.S. to begin creating policies on energy that considered long term stability.  The first law about energy efficiency was signed by President Gerald Ford in 1975, called the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.

This was followed by the establishment of the Department of Energy in 1977, which was a consolidation of the Federal Energy Administration, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Federal Power Commission, and others. From there, several pieces of legislation have helped encourage the development and deployment of energy efficient technologies. See Figure 2 below which depicts the energy consumption since 1980.

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Since those early beginnings, energy efficiency has always faced an uphill battle. From competing energy generators to high upfront costs to technology uncertainties and in some cases, genuine misinformation, transitioning to a lower energy consumption-based economy has not come easy. More recently, the low prices of oil and natural gas, along with stringent building codes and the fact that efficiency gains are increasing (mainly because they have come so far already) have made motivating individuals and business to pursue efficiency a challenge. Fortunately, we’re here for the long haul and more committed than ever to overcoming barriers and driving efficiency so that inevitably, when energy prices rise, and supply dwindles, energy efficiency will be there working, out of sight and out of mind.

Driving Forces for Energy Efficiency

Despite a national recognition of the need for more efficient use of energy in the U.S., and several legislative accomplishments at the national level, the driving forces for energy efficiency have largely been driven by market and state/local regulations.

  • Free Market Demand: Building owners and home owners have long understood the value of energy efficiency. At its core, the drive to reduce energy costs for owners creates demand for efficiency in commercial, industrial and residential customers.
     
  • Regulation: State policymakers and regulators provide direction to regulated utilities to provide energy efficiency programs. These policymakers and regulators can be broken out into the following groups:
    • Governor – sets energy policy through work with state legislature or executive orders
    • State-level legislature – passes bills that direct utilities to reduce total energy consumption
    • State public utilities commission – responsible for overseeing utilities operations and execution of goals set by the legislature or governor
    • Other regulating agencies – rate payer advocate groups, air quality management districts and a variety of other organizations may have the ability to directly or indirectly influence energy policy.
  • Public Support: Despite the continuing debate about climate change, peak oil, clean coal and a host of other energy debates, energy efficiency enjoys wide acceptance and support by Americans throughout the country. A staggering 94% of Americans believe that energy efficiency is important4.

Why pursue Energy Efficiency?

Why should you care? It’s not motivating enough to get incentives from utilities, tax rebates from the government and the warm fuzzy feeling in your heart knowing you are saving the planet? No? Okay, then how about these cold hard facts:

  • Cost: Using less energy through efficiency measures is good for the economy and your wallet. By reducing the amount of energy required for certain tasks, you’re automatically lowering your monthly utility bills. You’re also likely using more efficient equipment that requires less maintenance (labor) and provides more control. Energy-efficient appliances can save a U.S. household up to $500 a year on utility bills5
     
  • Occupant Comfort: The biggest complaint within commercial and residential buildings is thermal comfort. Less leaky windows, less complaining tenants – something everyone can support. Energy efficient buildings also see their tenants roll over less, which translates into fewer vacancies and larger rents.
     
  • Aesthetics: Efficient products are evolving quickly and most of the solutions available are much more attractive than their conventional counterparts.
     
Resiliency: It’s much easier to imagine the impacts of climate change now that vulnerable regions are being pummeled by intense tropical storms and extreme weather conditions. The combination of greater control over grid resources combined with overall reduced strain on energy demand, makes energy efficiency one of the greatest tools for increasing the resiliency of our grid.
 

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  • Health & Productivity: Energy efficiency can also help people live healthier, longer lives. Cutting nationwide energy consumption by 15 percent for one year via efficiency measures could help save six American lives a day and avoid up to $20 billion in health-related problems6.
     
  • Creating Jobs: More than 2.2 million Americans have jobs in energy efficiency or clean energy production. That’s more than five times the jobs in the "dirty" energy industries, including coal, gas, and oil. In fact, about one in every six construction jobs in the country is connected to energy efficiency7.
  • Environment: Energy efficiency is good for the planet. It can help to reduce air and water pollution caused by certain types of energy generation and avoid negative impacts on critical ecosystems.

Barriers to Energy Efficiency?

Earlier we mentioned some of the barriers to energy efficiency, mainly at the highest level. But as we’ve laid out the case above as well, the benefits of energy efficiency are too great to pass up and that’s where we, the energy services professionals come in. To identify the barriers to energy efficiency and provide actionable solutions. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time or room to get into detailed barriers and solutions. Fortunately, the barriers and solutions to energy efficiency has been written about extensively for commercial customers and residential customers. Summarizing those barriers, we can break the barriers and solutions to energy efficiency into four main categories:

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How and why do we measure success in EE?

As with anything in life, defining and measuring success is a critical job to ensure that our work provides the benefits described above. To accomplish this, we must look at numerous factors, beyond simple energy savings to not only recognize the full value of EE, but also ensure we are delivery successfully in all aspects. These metrics will vary based on numerous factors but should all be considered when pursuing any EEM.

Conclusion:

Energy efficiency has become a mainstream topic and impacts nearly every aspect of our society in a quiet, sometimes invisible way. Though it might not be as shiny or attractive as solar panels, EE plays an essential role in bringing us to the next stage of energy independence and sustainability. Jobs in this sector continue to grow despite political roadblocks and we will likely see a market transformation in our approach to efficiency over the next decade. Hopefully this helped shine some light on EE and acts as a reminder to even veterans in the field.

 
 

Emily Pearce is Vice President, Johnathon Fata is Director, and Jennifer Allen is an Associate at Waypoint Energy. Waypoint develops and manages private, public and utility programs within the commercial, industrial and multifamily real estate industry.

This article was contributed by the Implementation Topic Committee.

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PROSPECTIVES Interview: David Jacot

Posted By Adeline Lui, Monday, July 24, 2017
Strategies

This article is republished from the July 2017 issue of Strategies, AESP’s exclusive magazine for members. To receive Strategies, please consider joining AESP.



PROSPECTIVES: David Jacot, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power's Director of Efficiency Solutions


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John Hargrove: In a nutshell, what is the energy efficiency industry in California like right now?
David Jacot: We are very aggressive with new goals and targets under SB 350 which was passed last year. This law mandates doubling of energy efficiency by the year 2030. No one knows exactly what that means but it is going to be aggressive and the California Energy Commission is working mightily right now to figure it out.

John: At LADWP, you work with local government which often has very different priorities from the PUCs who oversee IOUs. What are some of the unique political challenges you see in communicating the value of energy efficiency to your decision makers?
David: Investor-owned utilities implement energy efficiency programs often at the mandate of the PUC. We are not regulated by the PUC but by the Los Angeles City Council. It is different in that there are multiple benefits that come from energy efficiency that may be of more interest to the council members. Energy efficiency is used as a component in our energy resource plan and delivers a very cost effective supply-side resource. But beyond that, there are a lot of non-energy benefits that factor in and accrue due to our investment in energy efficiency. Those non-energy benefits can often be more interesting to stakeholders than the energy benefits themselves – such as the creation of green job opportunities for our local work force; and equity of access across all customer segments and socio-economic categories. There is also a public policy mandate for low income energy efficiency, to help those constituents as well.

John: You mention that energy efficiency is considered a supply-side resource. Tell me more.
David: One of the things I am most proud of at LADWP is that we have quantitatively internalized the value of energy efficiency as a supply-side resource. We have been including it in our Integrated Resource Plan for six years as part of the supply mix to meet projected needs. To some extent, for many IOUs, energy efficiency is a regulatory mandate or a customer satisfaction play. But when it comes to getting counted as a hard resource, it is heavily discounted, if it is counted at all. At LADWP, we treat it as a dependable resource. In our loading order for resources, we rank energy efficiency as number one.

John: What is an example of a way you have overcome political challenges you see in communicating the value of energy efficiency to your decision makers?
David: We have a nation-leading partnership with Southern California Gas Company. They serve 20 million southern Californians, four million of whom are in our service territory. We have a joint agreement and 19 programs under that agreement where together we deliver gas, electric, and water efficiency programs. We just celebrated the fifth anniversary of that partnership. We coordinate with other utilities, especially on information sharing and the implementation of statewide programs with single administrators. With such broad collaboration and a diversified value proposition, efforts such as this tend to transcend political skirmishes and challenges and get everyone on board.

John: Has LADWP implemented customer-engagement programs, and what is your experience with them?
David: We presently have a number of customer engagement programs achieving broad recognition, such as our comprehensive home retrofit program performed free of charge and targeted to our lower income homeowners. We also attend to grassroots-level community capacity building through our Community Grants Program which enlists CBOs in each Council District as well as across the city to get out the energy and water efficiency message. We are in the process of building a more robust customer engagement strategy across all touch points through the process of journey mapping for our customer programs. We are also planning to deliver a city-wide peer-comparison-based behavioral conservation program.

John: What are some of the barriers to advancing energy efficiency in LADWP - and how have they been overcome?
David: The SoCal Gas partnership overcame many issues of resources. Hiring for the civil service process can be problematic. We were able to work with SoCal Gas and put together programs quickly that we did not have the internal resources or the contractual ability to do quickly on our own. There are things that a municipal utility can do quickly that an IOU can’t, like moving money from an unsuccessful program to one that is higher performing. IOUs can do things more quickly than we can, such as contracting for certain types of work. By working together we are able to implement several programs more effectively than either of us could do on our own, that at the same time bring additional benefits for our shared customers.
 
John: California is in the forefront of water conservation. What kind of future resource planning is LADWP doing to ensure its water future?
David: The drought which has been extreme for the last five years, was alleviated by this winter’s rains. But, we all know this being southern California, the water won’t stick around for long. We have managed to keep water consumption at the same total aggregate level over the last 30 years, even though Los Angeles has added a million people inside the city boundaries. We have brought down the per capita daily consumption to 104 gallons per person which is the lowest in the country for any city of over one million people. We have made long term efforts to reduce indoor usage and most of those opportunities are now saturated. The largest share of our customers’ use is outdoor irrigation and that also happens to be our largest opportunity to reduce water use going forward. In terms of resource planning, LADWP is also working to enhance our local water supplies, particularly storm water, recycled water and groundwater – all critical to increasing our water resilience and reducing our dependence on imported water.
 
John: How does LADWP view itself compared to other utilities?
David: LADWP is very unique. For a long time, we thought that we were as big as the IOUs but since we were not regulated by the PUC we didn’t really mesh with them. We knew that we were a POU, publically owned utility, but we were so much bigger than the rest that we didn’t feel we fit with them either. What we have done over the last few years is to say no, both of those perspectives are wrong. We are members of both groups and we need to be out there leading. We are an IOU-scale POU which gives us access to a lot of resources and the ability to lead, that a lot of the smaller POUs don’t have. At the same time, we are unrestrained by the bureaucracy of the IOU regulatory model, so we can really get out there and do aggressive things. Not only that, it is our responsibility, given our position, to do just that.
 
John: Looking to the future of EE in the next five and 10 years, what do you see in the way of technological advances and how will they impact the landscape of EE?
David: One big thing continues to be the full conversion of lighting to LED. The technology just gets better and better. There is tremendous energy savings which also drives cooling loads down. We expect to see total residential saturation very quickly. We are trying to accelerate that by doing giveaways. We did one last year and we will do another this year. Two LEDs for every household in Los Angeles; 1.4 million homes, 2.8 million LED lightbulbs. Utilizing a contractor, we delivered them door to door over the course of 13 weeks. At one point, over 80,000 homes per week. The average household has 30-40 light sockets. Conceivably we could run this program twice per year for 10 years or more. If people are putting the bulbs in when they get them, we could singlehandedly transform the market in a relatively short amount of time.
 
The other thing is, LEDs are so long lasting that we foresee a time, not too far away, where brick and mortar retailers are going to stock less and less product. We expect it to migrate to more of a web- based or Amazon type commodity. If the product lasts 15-20 years before burnout, retailers are not going to assign it that important shelf space.
 
John: What unique considerations should there be when integrating EE into DER and the Grid?
David: Traditionally they haven’t been coordinated that well in our programs or utilities in California, in general. The solar industry was pretty adamant about killing off any energy efficiency retrofit requirement as a condition of solar incentives. The compromise reached was quite watered down in terms of only requiring an energy efficiency audit. But even for that, there’s really no enforcement mechanism for it so we know that a lot of the solar is going into inefficient homes and the solar systems are often being sized bigger than they need to be if a comprehensive energy efficiency retrofit was undertaken before doing the solar project. That was a state law and years ago we weren’t able to get a tighter tie to the loading order in that. So, where does that leave us? To some extent we do have the oversizing of some of the solar systems, although they are technically right sized if they haven’t done any energy efficiency. If they do the energy efficiency work, then they will simply be feeding more energy in to the grid.
 
We look at distributed energy resources as five things: distributed solar, distributed battery storage, demand response, electric vehicle chargers, and energy efficiency. The first four are controllable and dispatchable. Energy efficiency is not. Energy efficiency is fundamental, or foundational to being able to optimize the grid and to accept the other four. It is baseload reduction and it can be targeted geographically. We are working with our power system to see how we can do an extra push in those grid-congested areas. Energy efficiency can be done any time and it will result in additional capacity on the system.
 
John: What do you see are the key trends disrupting the industry today?
David: One big one for us is California’s push towards 100 percent renewables. There is a bill that has been proposed to mandate this by 2045, which is less than 30 years away. There certainly is going to be support for California to do something bold like that, especially in light of the new national administration. I would not be surprised to see that pass. That will completely up-end the utility model in California. The utilities will survive it. There will always be a need for utilities to tie everything together but it will look a lot different than it does today. The big question for both IOUs and POUs is, what does that do for their revenue models, costs, rates, reliability, valuations (for IOUs), and bond ratings on Wall Street? That’s a big question for all of us.
 
John: Give me a description for the utility 25 years from now.
David: Twenty five years from now, continuing the trend of decentralization, we will probably be getting to the point where the utility connects everything and maybe doesn’t generate anything at all and manages the two-way and three-way power flows like a broker. The utility will still be needed, especially under a 100 percent renewable scenario. I do not envision a model in which everyone is off the grid. Were that to be the case, there would be serious reliability issues and cost issues as well, because not everyone can afford that. The infrastructure will be required to perform in a manner it wasn’t originally designed to do – to incorporate distributed generation and storage, plus massive electrification of passenger vehicles allowing the creation of a virtual, mobile battery. That infrastructure has to be maintained.

Tags:  David Jacot  LADWP  muni  Prospectives  Public Power 

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SmartTech as MarTech

Posted By Adeline Lui, Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This article is republished from the July 2017 issue of Strategies, AESP's magazine for members. To receive Strategies, please consider joining AESP.

SmartTech as MarTech

By Laura Orfanedes

 LauraOrfanedesJULY17Strategies(1).jpgNo longer the stuff of far-off visions or science fiction, the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart homes are quickly becoming a present reality for consumers. Utilities are increasingly embracing the increased connectivity, convenience, and savings offered by a new generation of these smart devices. The promise of new "smart" technologies is significant, including energy and cost savings, demand savings, and improved customer engagement with an outlook toward the fully connected smart home.

Beyond energy savings that can be claimed when installing the device, smart thermostats offer utilities a versatile out-of-the box platform for customer engagement. In this article, we position the idea of using smart thermostats as an actual marketing technology, one that marketers can and should be incorporating into marketing campaigns, just as they do for other marketing and media channels.

The MarTech Industry

Over the past 20 years, while digital transformation has been radically re-shaping customer expectations and experience, an industry has quietly emerged known as Marketing Technology, or "MarTech." Ushered in with the Internet in the 1990s – and the explosion of technology and data that accompanied it – MarTech has grown to become a nearly $30 billion industry with 5,000 companies operating in the space.1,2

Simply defined, MarTech "enables the customer experience revolution by changing the way marketers identify, engage and support customers. It is at the heart of successful digital transformation, linking previously siloed disciplines: product, marketing, sales and customer service".3

MarTech cuts across a wide range of marketing function4, including:

  • Advertising and Promotion: i.e., mobile marketing, display, search, native content, etc.
  • Content and Experience: i.e., mobile apps, content management, marketing automation, etc.
  • Social and Relationships: i.e., call analytics, loyalty and rewards, chat, social listening, etc.
  • Commerce and Sales: i.e., proximity marketing, sales automation, ecommerce, etc.
  • Data: i.e., mobile and web analytics, dashboards, customer intelligence, etc.
  • Management: i.e., collaboration, projects and workflow, Agile management, etc.

MarTech solutions, like the examples listed above, may serve different functions, but they all have one thing in common: they have radically and irrevocably transformed the speed, relevance and reach of marketing campaigns.

Smart Thermostats as Marketing Technology

According to chiefmartec.com, there are nearly 6,000 different MarTech tools currently in the market5. Some of these solutions are deployed in a large enterprise setting, while others are smaller, software-as-a-service-based tools. These tools come in a range of different forms, including software, downloads, or as cloud-based subscription services.

While smart thermostats are hardware, they are also software-managed and connected to the Internet. In that regard, they share many of the same characteristics - and offer many of the same benefits – as those tools that might be defined as MarTech.

Also, smart thermostats share a similar dynamic with other disruptive MarTech platforms in that "innovation begets another innovation."6 For example, Instagram and Snapchat needed smartphone cameras in order "to become one of the fastest growing communication channels today — and thus give people — and companies — new mediums for outreach."7

Likewise, utilities sought a technological solution to help them and their customers manage energy usage. In incentivizing this technology, they inadvertently opened a new channel for reaching customers with instantaneous and highly personalized communications.

Pathway to Deeper Customer Engagement

While the annualized energy and peak demand savings associated with a relatively low cost measure like a smart thermostat is very exciting for most utilities, the real magic lies in granular data acquisition, control and optimization algorithms, and the connection to the cloud. In short, marketing technology-like features and functionality.

These components provide utilities with a platform for more accurate virtual home audits, home automation, and more personalized customer engagement. For example, ICF is working with SMECO in using advanced analytics with smart thermostat data to identify homes with large potential for savings and then targeting these customers for participation in other utility offerings (Exhibit 1).

EXHIBIT 1. DATA COLLECTED BY SMART THERMOSTATS IS A GOLD MINE OF INSIGHTS

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This is accomplished by combining customers' propensity to participate in energy efficiency programs with the more accurate assessment of their savings potential that can be determined from analyzing thermostat data. These insights can be delivered back to the customers in a number of ways including home energy reports, a utility dashboard or the thermostat itself (Exhibit 2).

EXHIBIT 2. DELIVERED INTERACTIVE CUSTOMER INSIGHTS INCREASE PARTICIPATION

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Putting Smart Thermostats into the Marketing Mix

In 2015, Travis Wright, Chief Marketing Technologist at CCP Global, named 13 primary types of marketing technology tools.8

We present these tools (in Table 1 and highlight) and how smart thermostats stack up in comparison in offering utilities similar or proxy MarTech functionality that help them understand, target, reach, engage, and convert utility customers into programs.

TABLE 1. SMART THERMOSTATS COMPARED TO MARKETING TECHNOLOGY TOOLS

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Therefore, when placed into the marketing mix, smart thermostats will behave much like a MarTech tool, and offer the same hallmark benefits of digital marketing technologies: speed, relevance, and reach.

Aligning DSM with MarTech

Smart thermostats offer a range of MarTech-like capabilities within a single platform. However, it will be important for utilities to evaluate their marketing strategies and determine how a device traditionally used for non-marketing purposes would support overall DSM program, marketing, and other business objectives.

For utilities to work effectively together in the digital world, marketing managers, DSM program staff, and IT must work in unison. This is often a tall order for many organizations and these multiple departments can often end up in conflict, resulting in delays, missed synergies, and poorer results.

In order to undergo a digital transformation and leverage smart thermostats and other MarTech tools, utilities will have to decide who should be in charge. Should it be DSM program implementation or marketing, or perhaps a different department, or function, altogether?

Some recommended best practices9 include:

  • Making sure all team members – including any outside marketing agencies and implementers – are adequately trained on how to best use the technology.
  • Ensure organizations have allocated the necessary budget for technology procurement, and any recurring data transfer or API fees.
  • Consider assigning a dedicated marketing technology resource to a tool like this to help bridge the gap between these different stakeholders.

By reframing how we, as an industry, see smart thermostats, and applying best practices, who knows...? The result may be that, at the next annual marketing meeting, smart thermostats show up in the marketing plan right alongside Facebook ads, direct mail, search, and email marketing.

Laura Orfanedes is Principal, Energy Marketing at ICF in its Commercial Energy Division, where she delivers energy marketing and strategic communications for utility clients and supports business development. Justin Mackovyak, a residential energy efficiency consultant with ICF, contributed to this article. This article is from the AESP Marketing Topic Committee.

Tags:  ICF  Laura Orfanedes  Martech  smart thermostats 

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The Future of Energy Efficiency in the United States

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 25, 2017
Strategies

This article is republished from the May 2017 issue of Strategies, AESP’s exclusive magazine for members. To receive Strategies, please consider joining AESP.

The Future of Energy Efficiency in the United States

By Frank Stern, Rob Neumann and Christopher Lau
 
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The role of energy efficiency in the U.S. energy market has grown rapidly -- driven by the need to reduce reliance on large generation assets, to modulate energy demand, and to mitigate climate change. President Donald Trump has not made specific public statements about energy efficiency, but has begun the process to reduce funding for the federal agencies and the national laboratories largely responsible for national renewable and efficiency programs and energy research. Thus, energy industry stakeholders have been left to speculate on the future of national energy efficiency.
 
However, the direction of energy efficiency is unlikely to waiver. Energy regulation and policy are developed at multiple levels, with federal policy as one of many levers of power. At the international, state, municipal and corporate levels, the momentum to adopt energy efficient technologies is strong. The pace of technology development and the positive economics of energy efficiency investments will continue to drive energy efficiency adoption, independent of federal policy.

Federal Energy Efficiency
 
The three main areas of federal policy have been Appliance and Equipment Standards, the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris Agreement.

Appliance and Equipment Standards:
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Appliance and Equipment Standards Program sets federal energy efficiency standards. In 2015, the program saved an estimated 4.5 quads of primary energy use, or 5 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. As older appliances and equipment are retired and more efficient equipment is installed, the total savings are expected to grow annually. The energy efficiency measures put in place are cost-effective and save consumers money over the lifetime of the product. DOE currently has energy efficiency standards for over 55 types of products and equipment.
 
President Trump has not made specific statements that would suggest a stance on the Appliance and Equipment Standards program, which has strong support from both industry and environmental advocacy groups. However, the President’s proposed budget released in March 2017 contains cuts in DOE funding that would likely reduce funding for the office Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the Appliance and Equipment standards program, and the national laboratories, which play large roles in researching and supporting residential and commercial energy efficiency technologies. The proposed budget also eliminates the ENERGY STAR® , the voluntary program aimed at encouraging market adoption of more efficient technologies. If federal support of energy efficiency is reduced, the non-federal actors influencing our nation’s efficient use of electricity and power will play an even larger role in our country’s energy future.
 
Clean Power Plan
Trump directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to start the process of withdrawing and rewriting the CPP on March 28. Notably, the March 28 order did not (1) withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement (described below) or (2) start a process to repeal the EPA’s endangerment finding on carbon emissions, which underlies the CPP.1 But as of April 28, the D.C. Circuit granted the EPA’s request to pause the litigation and the court ordered a briefing on whether the case should be remanded to the EPA or kept on hold. Sending the rule back to the EPA would allow the agency to modify or rescind the rule following its review. The EPA would have to go through its rulemaking process which could take another 12 months or more.
 
Regardless of these actions, the United States is on a positive trajectory to achieve CPP goals earlier than planned since the nation has largely moved away from coal and toward natural gas and implementing renewables and increased energy efficiency.2 This, coupled with increasing improvements in appliance standards, has led to significant decreases in electricity generation and consumption. Most agree that market forces have already moved toward compliance, and that trend will continue with the ongoing trend away from coal toward natural gas, the ongoing installation of renewables, and the continuing adoption of energy efficiency resources. If natural gas, renewables, and energy efficiency measures are less costly than coal, market forces are likely to dictate the use of the more cost-effective resource.
 
Paris Agreement
Trump has stated his intention of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, which commits the United States and 194 other countries to lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The CPP is a key means of complying with this agreement. Trump has backtracked since his earlier statements and said he has an open mind about the agreement.3 Several major coal companies, (Cloud Peak Energy Inc., Arch Coal Inc. and Peabody Energy Corp) have asked Trump to remain in the Paris deal, arguing that the accord could provide their best forum for protecting their global interests.4 Several major oil companies – Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell plc, BP plc, Statoil and ConocoPhillips Co. have all reportedly expressed support for the agreement, as well as current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.5
 
At this point, it is unclear which way the administration will go. If the United States withdraws, other nations may impose carbon tariffs on GHG-intensive goods; France and Mexico have stated they are considering this option. This would put pressure on manufacturers to reduce emissions, encouraging energy efficiency.
 
State Energy Efficiency Initiatives
 
States that have been aggressively pursuing energy efficiency, including California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Hawaii, are not likely to change the direction of their energy policy and regulation. Several states have recently made announcements about renewed efficiency efforts and increased commitments to energy savings targets. These state policies drive electric and gas utility programs.
 
In California, Governor Jerry Brown and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen California’s already aggressive policies to fight climate change. The state has had a strong commitment to energy efficiency and this is likely to continue. Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Ohio have also reaffirmed their commitment to efficiency initiatives:
  • This past March, the Vermont House passed a bill that would create state energy efficiency standards if the Federal Appliance and Equipment standards program is eliminated.6 The bill would adopt efficiency standards that mirror federal standards as of January 19, 2017. The existing standards save Vermont households an average of 20 percent off their annual energy bills.
  • The Michigan legislature passed two sweeping bills on December 15, the last day of its end-of-year lame duck session, and the governor has signed them. The legislation extends and improves the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). The EERS bill, SB 438, officially endorses and extends the state's 1 percent annual energy savings requirement for utilities through 2021. It also removes the existing cap on energy efficiency program spending, adds tiered incentives to encourage utilities to exceed 1.5 percent annual savings, and increases the previous RPS requirement for renewable electricity from 10 percent to 15 percent.7
  • Proposed Massachusetts air regulations announced in December target 80 percent decarbonization by 2050.8 Achieving these targets is likely to require increased energy efficiency.
  • In Ohio, Governor John Kasich vetoed a bill at the end of December that would have weakened the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. This ended a two-year long freeze on the standards and cleared the way for the standards to be reinstated as of January 1, 2017.9
  • In early December, the Illinois General Assembly passed and the governor signed into law a sweeping energy bill that enabled two nuclear power plants to remain operational. The bill significantly increases energy efficiency requirements for the large electric utilities and resets the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which is expected to generate more than $10 billion in Illinois over the next 10 years.
Municipal
Municipal governments—such as those of Los Angeles, California; Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colorado; Boston, Massachusetts; Madison, Wisconsin; New York, New York, and others—are rapidly embracing the transformation to clean energy, driven by their citizens:
  • Los Angeles initiated its Sustainable City Plan in 2015, which aims to reduce energy use per square foot below 2013 levels for all buildings by at least 14 percent by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030.
  • Boulder adopted a new Climate Commitment in December. The goal is to build on the success of Boulder's Climate Action Plan and foster economic vibrancy while reducing overall emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. Reaching this goal means ramping up climate efforts and, in particular, actions to promote energy efficiency and conserve natural resources.
  • The City of Madison, Wisconsin recently announced a plan to move toward 100 percent renewable energy use across city agencies, with interim goals of 25 percent clean energy use by 2025. It also aims to reduce overall energy consumption by 50 percent by 2030.
 
Corporate Initiatives
 
Fortune 500 companies are committed to their plans related to corporate sustainability initiatives. This will drive clean energy project development regardless of what happens on the federal front. Five hundred and thirty companies – including Hilton, General Mills and Unilever – and 100 investors – including the New York State Common Retirement Fund and Trillium Asset Management – have signed a statement of support of the nation’s climate change policies in advance of Trump’s inauguration.10
 
Google announced recently that it would meet 100 percent of its corporate energy demand from carbon-free sources by 2017. A recent article in Japan Times stated, “Google’s efforts are driven not just by a notion of corporate responsibility, but also by business imperatives: Going green is smart, efficient and potentially profitable. That is the way to ensure that such policies are adopted more widely.”11
 
Forbes magazine recently said, “no matter who the president is, business leaders are committed to a clean energy future.”12 General Electric, Exxon and BP, among other large companies, have corporate clean energy initiatives as well as lines of business that focus on driving increased revenue through renewable resources and advanced technologies.
 
Technology Improvements
 
Technological improvements continue to offer consumers opportunities to reduce energy costs and reduce contributions to harmful emissions. A key example is LED lighting. LED prices have declined to a point where this type of lighting is becoming the economical choice in almost every application. The current wave of adoption is focused on the value of ongoing energy savings compared to a modest increase in upfront cost. As the payback periods fall below 2-4 years in more and more applications (in part due to Federal Appliance and Equipment standards), those with decision-making power over what type of lighting to use are forced to consider this comparatively new technology.13
 
Conclusion
 
Energy policy and regulation are developed at multiple levels. While the new president and Congress are likely to alter federal policies and regulations, support for cleaner and more sustainable energy systems will continue and may increase at the state, municipal, and corporate levels. Businesses have found renewables and energy efficiency to be good for businesses and to be a driver of revenue growth. Further, energy technology improvements are driving an increase in efficiency. These forces will not be altered or slowed by federal energy policy changes.
 
Frank Stern is the Managing Director; Rob Neumann, Associate Director; and Christopher Lau also Associate Director at Navigant Consulting.
 

1 National Review. “What President Trump’s Energy and Climate Executive Order Does — and Doesn’t Do.” March 31, 2017.

2 Annalee Grant, “U.S. May Meet Clean Power Plan's National Goal 13 Years Earlier Than Planned.” SNL, November 28, 2016.

3 Oliver Milman, “Paris climate deal: Trump says he now has an ‘open mind’ about accord.’” The Guardian, November 22, 2016.

4 Reuters. “U.S. coal companies ask Trump to stick with Paris climate deal.” April 4, 2017.

5 SNL. “Coal firms call for Trump to support Paris agreement to shape climate debate.” April 6, 2017.

Mike Polhamis, “Vermont House Passes Backup Bill on Energy Efficient Appliances” VTDigger, March 24, 2017

7 Martin Kushler, “New Michigan law strengthens energy efficiency and renewable energy standards” ACEEE, December 21, 2016.

8 Robert Walton, Gavin Bade, “Proposed Massachusetts air regulations target 80% decarbonization by 2050” UtilityDIVE, December 19, 2016.

9 SNL. “Kasich follows through on veto threat for Ohio clean energy standards.” December 27, 2016.

10  http://www.lowcarbonusa.org/, downloaded February 2, 2017.

11 Japan Times. “Google’s commitment to go green.” December 13, 2016.

12 Mindy Lubber, “It’s All About Building A Clean Energy Economy” Forbes, November 10, 2016.

13 Navigant Research. 2015. LED Lighting: Global Outlook.

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How to Navigate an AESP Conference

Posted By Administration, Monday, November 28, 2016

Congratulations!  You’re going to be attending your first AESP conference.  There’s so much to do before you even get to the conference such as register for the event, book your hotel room and make your flight reservations.  But then what do you do once you arrive?  What if you’ve never been to a conference before?  Will everyone know someone there?  How do you meet folks? How can you maximize the value from attending this conference as a new professional?   If only there was a quick outline to follow. Well, guess what?  We have something just for you to read.  

 

What to do before the Conference:

Review the conference agenda before attending and look for conference sessions that would bring you the most value in attending. Create a schedule for each day of the conference so you will not miss anything. (AESP provides an app for the National Conference and sometimes for the Spring and Summer. When available this can help with creating a schedule.)

 

Review the exhibitor list and create a list of the exhibitors you want to visit (Learning about the industry not only can come from the conference sessions, but also from visiting and talking with the exhibitors.) NOTE: The exhibitors are there to talk about, and showcase their products for the attendees. So don’t be shy, they want you to stop by their booth.

 

Review the attendee list prior to conference (try the app – the attendees are listed there and you can even schedule a meeting through it). Look for clients and/or partners that you would like to meet with. If appropriate, send them an email scheduling a time to meet while at the conference.   And don’t forget you will receive a directory of attendees when you check in at the AESP Registration Desk. 

 

 

What to do during the Conference:

Attend all of the networking events - this is a great way to meet other people in the industry.

 

Attend the New Professional Event where you will meet people like yourself that are new to the industry and facing some of the same challenges as you.

 

Stick to your conference schedule that you created earlier because you don’t want to miss any of the valuable sessions.

 

What to do after the Conference:

Create a report of the value received while attending the conference (what you learned, who you met with, what business leads were generated, etc.). This will allow you to show your management the value received in hopes to be able to attend the next AESP Conference.

 

Keep in contact with those you met while at the conference. You never know who might be helpful to you in the future. 

 

And finally—get involved! There are Local Chapters and Topic Committees, and AESP offers E2E (Experience2Exchange), a mentor/mentee program.  Join the AESP and the New Professionals LinkedIn groups.  Check out our Resource Library.  Learn from our free member Brown Bag webinars.  You can tweet about your experience.  So many things to do, see and learn. 

 

 

 Now that you are a conference expert, hope to see you at our next event!

 

Mark Gentry, Utility Sales Director for Ecova, has over 32 years of experience working with utilities and other energy efficiency programs. This article was contributed as a conference ambassador on behalf of the AESP New Professionals Scholarship. 

Tags:  New Professionals 

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AESP’s 27th National Conference - New Professional Scholarship Application

Posted By Administration, Monday, October 17, 2016

AESP’s 27th National Conference
New Professional Scholarship Application

 

Are you the next AESP scholarship recipient? Four scholarships are available for AESP’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida, February 13-16, 2017 at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The scholarships INCLUDE registration for the conference, a pre-conference training course of your choice and if you’re not a member, we include a one year membership (total value $2015). PLUS a conference ambassador so you can learn, network, and fully experience AESP’s National Conference. This year’s National Conference is Destination Innovation, so be on the forefront of energy efficiency and submit your application.

 

Qualifications for the New Professional Scholarship are:

· 1-5 years of Energy Efficiency, Demand Response, and/or Smart Grid experience.

· Must be working full time in any of the following energy-related areas: electric or natural gas utilities, co-ops/munis, regulatory or non-profit entities, public benefit groups, vendors, manufacturers, or consulting firms.

· Have approval for travel to attend the conference. Note: travel and lodging costs are NOT included in this scholarship.

· Scholarship recipients will be required to submit feedback to AESP on what was learned at the conference and how they benefit from it. Recipients are required to attend the New Professionals event on Monday February 13, 2017. It is also encouraged to attend a Topic Committee meeting or Chapter event while at the conference. Recipients may be asked to write an article for AESP, and/or post on social media.

· Disclaimer: Please be aware that by submitting this application, you consent to your photo, video, name, and/or likeness being used, without compensation, in all media, whether now known or here after devised, for eternity, and you release AESP, It’s Successors, Assigns and Licensees from any liability whatsoever of any nature.


If you meet the above qualifications, apply for the scholarship by emailing the following information (please limit responses to 100 words per question), as well as a 50 word biography, to admin@aesp.org by November 7, 2016.

 

1. How did you first become interested in the energy industry?

2. In what other industries have you worked prior to the energy industry?

3. What other industry conferences (energy or non-energy) have you attended, and what was your level of participation (i.e. attendee, exhibitor, committee member, etc.)?

4. How do you plan to leverage the National conference to achieve your goals, both personal and professional?

5. Which pre-conference training courses interest you most and why? Please rank them in order of your preference. The courses are:

Build It and They Will Come – Program Planning, Design & Implementation
This hands-on course covers a variety of program implementation and program management topics such as program operational processes, developing Requests for Proposals and contractor selection, using program tracking data and understanding evaluators.  The course includes several modules that begin with a high level overview and transition to group exercises that dive into the details, data and issues that program implementers face every day.    Participants will review and use program operations manuals, program tracking data, and program documentation to solve practical and common problems, and to simulate common program management issues.  Class discussions will draw out useful insights and experiences from participants.  Instructors are experienced in the real world successes and failures of program management at utilities and consulting firms.  This course is designed for the DSM professional with at least 2-3 years of DSM program experience.

Critical Thinking – Enhance your skills for decision making, leadership and communications
This workshop is founded on an understanding that leading business today requires the ability to bridge differing opinions, ask crucial questions, and having the know-how to overcome territorial domains; without it poor decisions almost always result. Indeed, the ability to think logically and comprehensively to evaluate a situation (critical thinking) is vital for optimum decision-making. Key areas of focus include learning, bias, reasoning, questioning, fallacy, the process of critical thinking based on the work of The Foundation for Critical Thinking, and intellectual growth. The workshop is presented in an engaging and fun manner in order for participants to increase their thinking awareness as the first step to sharpening their thinking skills. It is akin to the baseball player asking Why do I have to keep my eye on the ball? I have already done that once. If we are not aware of our thinking, we have no chance of improving it. The overarching goal of this workshop is to provide the motivation for participants to become less self-centered and more fair-minded thinkers.

 

6. You will be provided a conference ambassador so you can “jump right in.” What type of person do you prefer to be your mentor, any constraints? How do you plan on taking advantage of your mentor’s expertise?

 

7. I certify that my supervisor will allow travel time to this conference.  His/her name is________________________ and can be reached at_________________________.

 

 8. Include the following information so we can contact you, if selected.

Phone Number

Email

Company Name

Job Title

Company Address

 

 9. Are you interested in participating in a live focus group during one of the conference sessions?

 10. BONUS: Have a soft spot for boy bands? Apparently so does Orlando. Both the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync got their start in Orlando. Give us your best energy-saving tips…in the form of boy band lyrics.

Tags:  National Conference  New Professionals  Scholarships 

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