We need to make energy program evaluations more relevant for decision-making. Most existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs have been concerned with confirming the reasonableness of past investments and impacts on utility ratepayers. But there is also growing interest in evaluations of community programs and state public benefit programs, and they need to focus on learning lessons that we can use to make future choices about spending energy dollars. Looking forward, the questions that we can learn from public program evaluations are: (1) How can we most effectively spend public funds? (2) How can we best design public programs to achieve desired economic and environmental outcomes? and (3) How can we best prioritize choices among project and programs to maximize our return on investment? Program evaluations today often fall short of fully addressing these questions.
EDR Group and its parent EBP are involved in Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) in California, Massachusetts, cities in Switzerland and other European cities. We monitor and participate in a range of CCA efforts.
In 2018, communities in six states are leveraging their buying power for electric supply through Community Choice Aggregations (CCAs). What’s new in this 20 year phenomenon is electric supply bids increasingly include renewable components at the same or lower rates than utility basic service rates.
Energy program evaluation has sure changed! Programs to support efficiency in energy use and renewable power sources go back 40 years, following oil crises in the 1970s. Utility companies were mandated to provide incentives to users via “demand side management” conservation programs. These were followed by public rebates for investment in renewable and efficient technologies. The programs were evaluated for effectiveness, and initially there was great concern about net benefits -- not counting “free riders” (who would have made the energy efficient choices even without the program). EDR Group was a part of these evaluations from its beginning in the late 1990s, and our work featured measurement of both economic impacts and net benefits.