ACEEE report: Energy efficiency a critical resource for meeting demand, environmental goals

The combined savings from appliance and equipment efficiency standards, utility-sector energy-efficiency programs and building codes since 1990 represent the third-largest electricity resource in the nation, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy You are leaving WAPA.gov. (ACEEE). Moreover, increased use of these policies could potentially make it the US’s largest electricity resource by 2030. logo

Growing economy, flat energy use
The Greatest Energy Story You Haven’t Heard: How Investing in Energy Efficiency Changed the US Power Sector and Gave Us a Tool to Tackle Climate Change, released in August, seeks to correct the oversight of the title. By quantifying the energy savings and other benefits from a set of energy-efficiency programs and policies, the paper details the quiet success story that started 40 years ago.

Following the 1973 oil crisis, a diverse group of scientists, analysts and policymakers began to develop strategies to reduce energy waste and use less energy to deliver the same or better services. As a result, our gross domestic product increased by 149 percent from 1980 to 2014 while energy use in the United States increased by just 26 percent. Without energy-efficiency, we would need the equivalent of 313 additional power plants to meet the country’s energy demands.

Utilities making the business case for customer programs will find data to show that energy efficiency creates US jobs, reduces energy burdens for struggling customers and strengthens community resilience. Commercial customers will be interested to learn that it also improves their bottom line and returns at least double its investment. Homeowners save an average of $840 annually through energy efficiency and have the potential to save more.

Fighting climate change
Just as important as the economic benefits is ACEEE’s finding that energy efficiency policies can play a major role in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Most states could meet at least 25 percent of their emissions reduction requirements through efficiency policies and the resulting investments, and many could achieve 100 percent.

Utilities understand that the cleanest kilowatt-hour is the one never used. Those 313 power plants that were never built would have emitted 490 tons of carbon dioxide by 2015. The report states that well-designed policies could save another 1,000 terawatts and avoid all the accompanying emissions.

The successful policies cited in the report include:

  • Appliance and equipment efficiency standards that enforce minimum performance requirements while still leaving consumers a wide array of more efficient products to choose among.
  • Building energy codes, which set minimum requirements for energy-efficient design and construction for new and renovated buildings.
  • Utility energy-efficiency targets and energy savings goals to meet through programs that help customers save energy.
  • Utility regulatory reforms that incentivize utilities to provide energy-efficiency services to customers instead of selling more electricity and investing in more electricity generation resources.

Barriers remain
The report acknowledges that in spite of the many benefits energy efficiency offers to society, there are still barriers to widespread adoption.

Consumer awareness of energy performance is still limited and data on their energy use is often not available to them. Split incentives, such as rental properties, are another common problem. Building owners have little reason to make property improvements if they are not paying the utility bills.

Beyond the consumer’s control are regulatory, legal and pricing issues. Business models that tie profits to selling more energy and making capital investment discourage investments in energy efficiency. The environmental, health and security costs to society of energy production and transmission are not factored into energy prices. Although energy efficiency helps reduce these costs, the savings are rarely recognized.

Measuring the effects of energy efficiency still poses a challenge, as utility program managers are well aware. However, recent advances in data availability and analytics are making this task easier.

You can download The Greatest Energy Story You Haven’t Heard for free and share it with your board of directors, resource planners and program managers. Take a moment to congratulate your colleagues on a successful strategy and then start planning how to keep on succeeding.

Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 9/14/16

LES, APPA create Clean Power Plan modeling tool

The Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that seeks to reduce the United States’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 32 percent in 2030, presents state regulators and the electricity sector with new challenges as well as opportunities. Utilities and states will need to work closely to find cost‐effective means of reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants and, in some cases, to demonstrate performance for EPA requirements. Many states may find it necessary to implement a CO2 emissions trading program.CleanPowerPlanModel

While utilities have a history of using complex modeling and forecasting tools, state regulators are less familiar with these processes. To help bridge that communication gap, Lincoln Electric System You are leaving WAPA.gov. and the American Public Power Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. have developed the Clean Power Plan Modeling Tool. This model is utility-focused, making it unique among various tools available for assessing a state’s potential compliance under the final rule. Users are able to assess the potential compliance position of a specific utility, providing for much deeper insight into the potential ramifications for your company and the customers it serves.

The tool is designed to:

  • Provide a useful, quantitative look at potential compliance options based upon planned and/or forecast generation capacity additions and retirements
  • Allow public power utilities to evaluate their potential compliance position
  • Provide deep insight into the potential ramifications for utilities and their customers

Utilities may also find the model useful for integrated resource planning.

The Clean Power Plan Modeling Tool is free to APPA members. Upon ordering, the user will receive an email with instructions on accessing the tool.

Source: Public Power Daily, 5/24/16

Conference focuses on resource planning for utilities

If integrated resource planning (IRP) seemed difficult in the past, a whole new set of factors; including the Clean Power Plan, advances in storage, renewable energy portfolios and smart devices galore; are piling on to make it more challenging—and more important—than ever. An upcoming conference, How Changes in the 2016 Grid Affect IRPs You are leaving Western's site., may help your utility address those challenges, while building general planning skills.

The professional development company EUCI is presenting its 16th Annual Integrated Resource Planning Conference, March 20-22, in Long Beach, California. The conference provides a showcase for IRP “best practices” that takes into account the new pressures utilities face in managing and forecasting their loads.

Far-reaching program
The agenda is designed not just for resource and strategic planners, but for financial analysts, efficiency and demand response program managers and professionals who are responsible for mandate compliance as well.

Speakers include leading utility and power resource planning professionals and related industry experts. Presentations will use case studies to illustrate methodologies that predict and plan for future operational and investment requirements. Key topics include:

  • Properly modeling energy storage and integrating it into an IRP
  • How Clean Power Plan requirements should be rendered in the IRP planning process and document
  • How to factor operational flexibility requirements into resource selection decision-making
  • Planning for uncertainty and risk related to fuel prices and transportation infrastructure
  • Determining a utility’s avoided cost for PURPA [Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act]and variable generation (VG) resources

In addition to two days of packed sessions, EUCI has also scheduled pre- and post-conference workshops. IRP Planning Challenges and Critical Analysis for Emerging Business Models, March 21, provides analytic, modeling and planning insights as they relate to the new business forces that are transforming the utility industry. On March 23, following the conference wrap-up, Energy Storage Valuation examines the questions utilities and system planners have relating to modeling and implementing storage.

What you get
Participants will learn about developing comprehensive resource plans that provide solutions to operational issues and accurately account for variables. Sessions will offer insights on the impact of renewables on carbon emissions, and on communicating IRP results to stakeholders and regulators. Attendees can gain practical resource planning skills that will help position their utilities to negotiate the industry’s rapidly evolving business model environment.

Besides new skills, EUCI is offering .9 continuing education units (CEU) for the conference and .3 CEUs for each workshop. The International Association for Continuing Education and Training You are leaving Western's site. has accredited EUCI as an authorized training provider.

Good for you, for Western
Energy Services is not only suggesting that our customers investigate this training opportunity—we are planning to send representatives to the IRP Conference, as well. It is critical that Western understands the demands of the new planning environment thoroughly to give our customers the support they need as the industry changes.

Register before March 4 to receive the early-bird discount. EUCI is offering a discount for organizations wishing to send multiple attendees. Send three delegates and the fourth attends for free, as long as all registrations are made at the same time. Contact Ron Horstman for more information about the package discount.

Rooms at Hyatt the Pike, the conference location, must be reserved before Feb. 20 to receive the special group rate.

ACEEE: Combined heat and power should be part of EPA clean power plan

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its plan in June for cutting carbon pollution from power plants by 2030, using four building blocks to achieve targeted reductions.

Each building block represents a category of measures that states can use to meet the first-ever federal regulation for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) from existing power plants. The agency included energy efficiency, creating a path for states to reduce both greenhouse gases and consumer energy bills, but overlooked combined heat and power (CHP). The American Council for an Energy-Efficient EconomyRedirecting to a non-government site noted that the readily available energy resource could provide states with substantial energy savings.

Block-worthy strategy
For the EPA to include a policy measure as a building block in its proposal, the energy savings it provides should be cost-effective, adequately demonstrated and there should be lots of it. CHP meets these criteria by providing both energy and environmental advantages over separate heat and power systems. An ACEEE study found CHP represents around 18 Gigawatts of avoided capacity, and that installing the technology could save more than 68 million Megawatt-hours of energy by 2030. Those energy savings could cut CO2 emissions and offset the need for about 36 power plants.

In addition to offering energy and environmental benefits, CHP is a well-established resource, widely in use in industrial facilities, hospitals and universities to reduce operating costs and ensure reliability. According to the Department of Energy, it currently represents 8 percent of installed U.S. electric generating capacity and more than 12 percent of total electricity generation, and has the potential to achieve much more. A study from Oak Ridge National Laboratory found CHP could reach up to 20 percent of U.S. generating capacity by 2030. Including CHP as a strategy for meeting CO2 reduction goals will encourage greater investment in the efficient technologies that deliver environmental and economic benefits.

States make their move
Another advantage of treating CHP as an energy efficiency measure is that it can provide emissions reductions at a lower cost than other sources. A handful of states, including New York, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and others, are developing innovative approaches to increase deployment of CHP to gain its energy savings and emissions benefits. ACEEE is urging EPA to encourage states to use CHP and provide guidance to help states include energy savings from CHP in their compliance plans. Source: American Council for and Energy Efficient Economy, 9/4/2014