As more states and utilities increasingly turn to energy efficiency programs to manage demand for electricity and natural gas, it is important to understand how much saving energy costs. By examining regulatory reports on efficiency programs in 31 states, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have determined the cost of saving energy through efficiency programs funded by utility customers in the period 2009-2011. A report published today presents those costs at the national and regional level for all sectors and the most prevalent program types.
The study was written by Megan A. Billingsley, Ian M. Hoffman, Elizabeth Stuart, Steven R. Schiller, Charles A. Goldman, and Kristina LaCommare of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of Berkeley Lab.
Berkeley Lab researchers gathered a total of more than 4,000 program-years' worth of costs and energy savings data, as reported by 107 program administrators on 1,700 individual efficiency programs. Administrators of those programs typically use different names for their programs, and practices vary among states for reporting program cost and savings information. The researchers developed a standard approach to handling the data and classifying the programs. The result is the most comprehensive and detailed program database reported to date, offering a rich portrait of national and regional efficiency program investments and covering more than 60 different types of efficiency programs. In the report, calculations of the cost of saved energy (CSE) are based upon gross energy savings and the costs borne by the program administrator. Cost contributions by program participants are infrequently reported by program administrators, and thus the reported results are not the "all-in" cost, known in the industry as the total resource cost.
The report provides a levelized CSE by targeted sector (residential, commercial, industrial and low income customers) and program type, as defined by technology, action or delivery approach. For each market sector and program type, the report identifies a range of costs as reported by energy efficiency program administrators including the median CSE value and a savings-weighted average CSE.
Among the key national and regional findings:
The report asserts that there is a direct connection between the maturation of energy efficiency as a resource and the need for consistent, high-quality data and periodic reporting of efficiency program costs and impacts. The report urges state regulators and program administrators to consider annually reporting certain essential data at a portfolio level and more comprehensive reporting of program-level data (e.g., lifetime energy savings, participant costs). Policymakers and system planners have shown increasing interest in integrating energy efficiency as a resource, and the value of transparent and complete reporting of program metrics is a foundation for increasing their confidence in this resource.
The report "The Program Administrator Cost of Saved Energy for Utility Customer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs" was written by Megan A. Billingsley, Ian M. Hoffman, Elizabeth Stuart, Steven R. Schiller, Charles A. Goldman, and Kristina LaCommare of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division.
A webinar on the findings will be presented 2 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Pacific, Wednesday, April 2. Register here.
This research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.