Utility Energy Efficiency (EE) programs have come under increasing pressure from market and regulatory forces in recent years. With programs operating for decades in many regions, the “easy” savings from what was once low hanging fruit are drying up. Even programs that are just starting out are also finding how quickly they capture the savings from the low hanging fruit. Meanwhile, a multitude of new codes and standards continue to lower the per-unit savings attributed to voluntary programs, and we are seeing increased Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification scrutiny across the country. Taken together, these factors indicate that savings attributed to EE programs are becoming increasingly hard to come by.
At the same time, the value of these savings is increasing. Savings goals are rising; many states now have Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, and meeting the stated goal impacts regulatory goodwill now more than ever. Meanwhile, electric rates continue to go up, and customers look to their utility for advice on how to reduce energy use, not just lower their bills. Twenty-one utilities also now have an incentive to pursue energy efficiency, tying shareholder value directly to EE programs and making these savings even more valuable.