New energy efficiency rules will reduce carbon emissions and costs
With the sixth annual Energy Efficiency Day scheduled for Wednesday, now is a good time to remember that efficiency is one of the most effective ways to tackle dangerous climate pollution and to catalyze actions to address it. historic underinvestment in vulnerable communities. To accomplish this, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently passed several critical decisions that rethink energy efficiency and lay the groundwork to ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits of reducing energy waste.
The new rules address multiple barriers, such as those that prevented the effectiveness of customers who are not eligible for low-income efficiency programs but who cannot afford to participate in other offerings. Barriers like these have also hampered the extent to which efficiency could contribute to the state’s equity and climate goals. With the updated rules and the new approach to efficiency planning, Californians will have additional opportunities to reduce their energy waste, improve the health and comfort of their homes or businesses, and help improve the health and comfort of their homes or businesses. State to fight against the climate crisis.
Redefining the value of efficiency with the Total System Benefit metric
Traditionally, progress towards reducing energy consumption has been measured by the number of kilowatt hours or therms reduced. However, this does not take into account that the value of energy savings varies over time. In particular, reducing energy use in the late afternoon and evening is more useful than saving energy at midday, as this is when California’s vast solar panel system extinguishes and more expensive and polluting resources ignite. So we want programs that save electricity in the middle of the afternoon and in the evening when there is a high demand for electricity but no solar to meet it.
To address this problem, the CPUC has approved a new way to measure effectiveness, measured in dollars, called Total System Benefit. The new measure combines this time varying value of energy savings with the benefits of greenhouse gas reduction for better value efficiency for our climate goals and energy needs. It will also give program planners and implementers a better signal of the types of effective programs that need to be continued.
Reorganize energy efficiency programs through segmentation
Ensuring that investing in efficiency programs yields more benefits than costs is an important way to protect client funds and ensure the most effective programs. However, when efficiency portfolios attempt to achieve multiple goals (e.g. the desirability of these different goals is lost.
To solve this problem, the CPUC has approved a new way of organizing the programs so that they are valued appropriately for what they are trying to accomplish. While there is undoubtedly an overlap between these categories, the program portfolios will now be organized into the following segments based on their primary purpose:
- Resource acquisition programs: These programs are the closest equivalent of resources on the supply side, with the main objective of reducing gas and electricity consumption to replace the need for conventional and / or more expensive energy services.
- Market support programs: These programs focus on improving efficiency (e.g. education, training, partnerships and support for new technologies), distinct from the separate category created by the commission in 2019 to advance initiatives comprehensive market transformation.
- Equity programs: The main objective of these programs is to serve the hardest to reach clients, such as those who may have language barriers or who rent in a multi-family building. These programs also aim to provide better access to efficiency options for disadvantaged communities in accordance with the CPUC’s Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan.
Source: Markus Spiske, Unsplash
Resource acquisition programs will continue to be measured by traditional cost-benefit tests with a budget to be determined in the next program requests expected in February 2022. Market support and equity segment programs will have a cap budget of 30% of the overall budget. and rely on metrics to track progress. Additionally, with the new four-year portfolio structure also recently approved, the California Energy Efficiency Committee will be used to assess progress and find solutions as needed.
Capture available energy savings while reducing carbon emissions
The CPUC has set new electric and gas energy savings goals that are pushing California utilities and community choice aggregators to better use efficiency to meet long-term greenhouse gas reductions. ‘State, in addition to providing energy benefits. These targets are based on a new approach for calculating potential energy efficiency savings and include significant levels of building electrification measures. The targets also combine demand response and efficiency measures for the first time.
Program administrators have the freedom to determine how to achieve these goals through a combination of resource building, market support and equity programs. These targets send a strong political signal to program designers to start evolving their energy efficiency offers to meet the government’s carbon, energy savings and equity targets. The decision also requires programs to track energy savings demands through the new measure of total system benefits and definitely switch to this new measure in 2024.
Trying new ways to serve low-income customers
The commission also recently approved energy conservation targets and $ 2.2 billion to implement the next six years of the Income-Qualifying Energy Savings Assistance Program, which includes a number of changes. substantial. The following list is a sample of the changes. In particular, the decision:
- Reimagines program design to provide greater savings opportunities for clients by adding additional metrics and customizing program offerings based on client needs and profile.
- Establishes a new program of whole multi-family buildings to be designed through competitive solicitation, including national best practices and tenant protections.
- Lead workforce, education and training efforts to serve local and disadvantaged communities.
- Establishes a working group to deal with a number of outstanding items and to monitor the progress of the program.
These changes – and many more outlined in the decision – aim to deepen offers for communities most in need of improving the health and comfort of their homes and the affordability of their energy.
If these decisions pave the way for progress, they are innovative ideas to test. Therefore, over the next few years it will be important to ensure that the segmentation, re-assessment and low income pilots are well implemented. It is also imperative that programs are designed to take advantage of these opportunities, especially for the equity segment and to support electrification programs.
There are also additional changes that should be explored in the future. For example, the current cost-benefit test for resource acquisition programs is outdated and needs updating. Communities also need more accessible avenues to engage in the decision-making process of the very programs that intend to serve them (see Goal 5 of the CPUC Environmental and Social Justice Action Plan).
By continually improving the approach, strategies and opportunities to serve customers, the board can continue to be a leader and achieve significant energy savings, deliver meaningful and inclusive opportunities to all customers, and significantly reduce pollution. harmful to the climate.