Active Efficiency in Action
The best way to understand the value of Active Efficiency is to see it in action. There are many examples that demonstrate the potential of Active Efficiency. Between the economic, social, and environmental benefits, the hard work that goes into making these examples successful is something to be celebrated.
Explore the stories of Active Efficiency
The stories below exemplify how Active Efficiency is transforming our energy system – spanning sectors including transportation, industry, buildings, and power generation, and emerging from public, private, and collaborative initiatives. Get an in-depth look by clicking on each module, and be sure to check back as we add more success stories to this collection.
Snohomish County Public Utility District (Snohomish PUD), one of the largest public utilities in the Pacific Northwest, designed its upcoming microgrid in Arlington, WA, to meet two objectives: increase grid resilience and improve disaster recovery response.
Uplight reports that 60-80% of marketplace customers who buy a smart thermostat also successfully activate it within the demand response program, compared to fewer than 8% of U.S. homes equipped with smart thermostats that were enrolled in a utility thermostat DR program in 2018.
The need to mitigate climate change and adapt to more frequent and intense natural disasters requires a cleaner, more reliable, and more resilient energy system. In recent years, microgrids, with their potential to reduce emissions, save energy, and bolster grid resilience, have emerged as a possible solution.
The growing demand for deep retrofits to help decarbonize the nation’s building stock has faced many economic barriers. Prime among these is the “split incentive,” where the financial benefits of energy efficiency flow to tenants through reduced energy bills, rather than to the party responsible for the financing of the efficiency measures.
Bonduelle Fresh Americas, one of the nation’s largest produce distributors, set an energy reduction target of 5% energy savings across its portfolio as part of its corporate responsibility plan.
Kent State University in Northeast Ohio is a living example of how an Active Efficiency approach to energy management can boost savings by integrating digital technologies with traditional energy efficiency measures.
Fort Carson integrates traditional energy efficiency with battery storage and peak-shaving controls. This combination of technologies saves Fort Carson more than $500,000 a year on its electric bill by optimizing energy use in a time-dependent manner – that’s Active Efficiency in action.
Vermont’s cold winters, old building stock, and high cost of fuel oil and propane contribute significantly to its high energy burden, ranging from 6-20% of household income, according to a 2019 study. Efficiency Vermont’s energy efficiency programs help ease this high burden.
Colorado has prioritized a top to bottom strategy, utilizing the executive branch, the legislature, utilities and their regulators, as well as regional partners, to create a multi-pronged approach to reduce emissions through transportation electrification.
Portland has an aggressive goal of achieving 100% renewable electricity by 2035. Achieving this will require much higher levels of demand response (DR) participation, which is why the Oregon Public Utility Commission directed the city’s utility, Portland General Electric (PGE), to acquire new DR resources.
National Association of State Energy Officials Joint Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) convened a joint task force on comprehensive electricity planning.
In Maine, winters are long and cold, and 62% of heating uses costly and polluting #2 fuel oil. In 2013, the Efficiency Maine Trust (EMT) kickstarted a program to incentivize high-performance, mini-split ductless heat pumps and, a few years later, heat pump water heaters.
To effectively promote flexible beneficial electrification, it is necessary for the benefits of this technology to be valued in the marketplace.
Customer-focused utility programs need to be streamlined and designed to provide equitable access to services. Programs also should be designed to meet the specific needs of different customer segments — e.g. enabling aggregation for smaller energy users and driving deeper savings and demand flexibility for larger energy users. The initiatives and programs highlighted in this section demonstrate how a stronger focus on customer needs can lead to improved energy performance and demand flexibility outcomes.
Demand management is key to greater decarbonization. Both will require an all-of-the-above approach to energy management, including traditional energy efficiency improvements as well as beneficial electrification and integration of distributed renewable energy sources and storage. Adopting program frameworks that focus on decarbonization can help decision-makers integrate these objectives and reduce complexity for customers. The market frameworks and emissions targets highlighted in this section show how to set the stage for performance-based outcomes.
Determining the value of energy efficiency and demand flexibility is critical for assessing cost-effectiveness, ensuring policy support, and designing appropriate program incentives and compensation. Standardized methodologies will help meet these needs for valuation. The frameworks highlighted in this section are forging a path toward improved valuation of energy efficiency and demand flexibility, which can inform the metrics used to design and implement performance-based utility programs.
Collaboration among regulators, legislators, and other decision-makers can create favorable market conditions for performance-based utility programs. With access to energy data and actionable insights, both customers and aggregators can harness these market conditions to achieve deep retrofits and improve demand flexibility. The programs and tools highlighted in this section provide examples of features that performance-based programs can adopt to stimulate market demand.