Energy efficiency stands out with its potential to address a number of challenges that today’s electric utilities face, including increasing and changing electricity demand, shrinking operating capacity, and decreasing system reliability and flexibility. Being the least cost and least risky alternative, the share of energy efficiency programs in utilities’ energy portfolios has been on the rise since the 1980s, and their increasing importance is expected to continue in the future. Despite holding great promise, the ability to determine and invest in only the most promising program alternatives plays a key role in the successful use of energy efficiency as a utility-wide resource. This issue becomes even more significant considering the availability of a vast number of potential energy efficiency programs, the rapidly changing business environment, and the existence of multiple stakeholders.
This paper introduces a hierarchical decision modeling framework for energy efficiency program planning in electric utilities. The framework focuses on the assessment of emerging energy efficiency programs and proposes to bridge the gap between technology screening and cost/benefit evaluation practices. This approach is expected to identify emerging technology alternatives which have the highest potential to pass cost/benefit ratio testing procedures and contribute to the effectiveness of decision practices in energy efficiency program planning. The framework also incorporates rank order analysis and sensitivity analysis for testing the robustness of results from different stakeholder perspectives and future uncertainties in an attempt to enable more informed decision-making practices. An assessment framework was applied to the case of 13 high priority emerging energy efficiency program alternatives identified in the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A.
The results of this study reveal that energy savings potential (35.6%) is the most important program management consideration in selecting emerging energy efficiency programs. Market dissemination potential (25.7%) and program development and implementation potential (24.6%) are the second and third most important, whereas ancillary benefits potential (14.1%) is the least important program management consideration. The results imply that program value considerations (49.7%), comprised of energy savings potential and ancillary benefits potential; and program feasibility considerations (51.3%), comprised of program development and implementation potential and market dissemination potential, have almost equal impacts on assessment of emerging energy efficiency programs. Considering the overwhelming number of value-focused studies and the few feasibility-focused studies in the literature, this finding clearly shows that feasibility-focused studies are greatly understudied.
The hierarchical decision model developed in this paper is generalizable. Thus, other utilities or power systems can adopt the research steps employed in this study as guidelines and conduct similar assessment studies on emerging energy efficiency programs of their interest.
Ibrahim Iskin, Tugrul U. Daim. An assessment model for energy efficiency program planning in electric utilities: Case of Northwest U.S. Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments, Volume 15, 2016, Pages 42–59.
Portland State University, Department of Engineering and Technology Management, Portland, OR 97207, United States.
Go To Sustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments