Implementing the Conservation Program
The Council is recommending 2,400 average megawatts of energy efficiency be acquired by 2041. Energy efficiency is a slow build resource. Achieving this goal requires ongoing research to ensure that it is available, reliable, and acquired at the lowest cost. It requires steady investment to identify opportunities, design programs to deliver efficiency to consumers, evaluate effectiveness, and then refine and repeat. Therefore, the Council recommends that the region continues to invest in research in the areas of evaluation, market research, regional stock assessments, and end-use load research. In addition to supporting the Conservation Program, we believe this research provides important insights for identifying demand response opportunities and ensuring effective delivery of those products. The Council recommends the region consider these wider benefits when determining appropriate investment levels for research.
[Bonneville, Regional Utility Programs]
Evaluation is a critical component of understanding the impacts of energy efficiency measures and demand response products. It conveys whether the planned savings were realized, and it can provide insights on how to improve program effectiveness. Many of the region’s efficiency programs—including Bonneville on behalf of its customer utilities—have robust evaluation efforts. The Council recommends continued investment in energy efficiency evaluation, at levels commensurate with today’s investment. This research should include collecting all measure information required to support cost-effective and equitable application of ratepayer funds. Additionally, we recommend that efficiency programs develop evaluations in accordance with the Regional Technical Forum’s guidelines, which support consistent and reliable determination of energy efficiency across all measure types.
[NEEA, Bonneville, Energy Trust of Oregon, Utility Program]
Market research provides thoughtful insights to characterize the prevalence of efficient products available in the market, the availability of contractors and other experts needed to install efficient products (including those with controls that could be used in demand response programs), and where the largest gaps in efficiency adoption exist. Over the past several years, the region has increased its investment in market research, providing the information needed to refine and focus efficiency programs on the most promising opportunities. NEEA plays a critical role in market research, as it can leverage its market expertise and take advantage of the economies of scale that come with being a regional entity. Bonneville, the Energy Trust of Oregon, and the region’s utility programs also have an important role, particularly as it comes to gathering insights to address specific local questions or needs. The Council recommends that NEEA, Bonneville, and the region’s efficiency programs continue to invest in market research.
Regional Stock Assessments
[NEEA, Bonneville, Utility Programs]
Through NEEA, the region has conducted regional stock assessments that provide snapshots on the existing building stock today. This includes information on number of buildings, size, use, types of equipment installed, availability of products with controls, and more. Stock assessments are an important complement to market research, as they provide another lens for identifying efficiency opportunities and tracking regional progress. The Council recommends that the region, through NEEA, continues to invest in regular stock assessments for the residential and commercial sectors. Ideally, these would be completed at least once every five years. As part of this effort, NEEA should explore new data techniques, including high frequency data, for providing more timely information about fast evolving changes in the stock.
Additionally, for commercial buildings, the Council recommends that NEEA, with support of Bonneville, Energy Trust and regional utilities, develop a reliable commercial building energy use intensity dataset. The starting point should be the commercial building stock assessment and other publicly available data sources. This dataset will enable efficiency programs to identify those buildings that provide the greatest opportunity for significant investment.
The Council also recommends the region invest in another stock assessment for the industrial sector (including water and wastewater), with particular focus on motors and motor-driven systems. To the extent practical, data gathered on motor and motor-driven systems should also include the agricultural sector, as the region has a long-standing gap of information on this sector. For this work, we recommend that the region build on existing utility data and leverage efficiency program experts knowledgeable with these facilities as a starting point for this assessment.
End Use Load Research
[NEEA, Bonneville, Regional Utilities]
Understanding the timing of energy use, as well as the timing of energy savings, is critical for identifying those measures that provide more value for the power system. Today, the region continues to rely heavily on the results from the End-Use Load and Consumer Assessment Program (ELCAP), which was conducted in the late 1980s to characterize the timing of energy use. Recently, through coordination at NEEA, the region has undertaken a new effort to meter and characterize energy use in residential and commercial buildings. The findings from this research shine light on how we use energy today and provide insights on how new technologies might shift and reduce the timing of energy use. With the recent Covid-19 pandemic changing how people live and work, this research will answer questions around how energy use has shifted and whether any of those shifts will continue as the “new normal”. The Council recommends the region continue to fully fund this research and ensure that the knowledge gained is shared broadly for effective investment in all demand-side opportunities. Additionally, the Council recommends that the Regional Technical Forum use this data to create load shapes for efficiency measures that can be leveraged by the region’s utilities to understand the timing of energy efficiency savings.