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Flawed testing stymies utility energy-efficiency efforts

July 24, 2012

Credit: Synapse

Widely-used tests to evaluate energy-efficiency programs are not being conducted correctly and, as a result, energy-efficiency programs that offer significant benefits to homeowners, the environment, and society are not being created, according to research from the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC).

The study, conducted by Synapse Energy Economics and commissioned by the National Home Performance Council (NHPC), found that test results were inaccurate and incomplete.

Universally, Unified Communications increasingly is being looked at by businesses as a way to contain costs, expand reach and simplify communications-both internally and externally. But there are stumbling blocks. Interoperability, proof of ROI and a lack of understanding all are contributing to what has been fitful progress for the technology.

"Utility cost-effectiveness testing is an important way for regulators, utilities and program administrators to determine if the benefits of a program outweigh its costs," said NHPC's Robin LeBaron. "However, most states are NOT using a complete range of best practices that fully accounts for the value of energy efficiency, leading to incomplete and inaccurate test results. As a result, valuable energy-efficiency programs that would lower utility bills and provide many other benefits are being rejected."

To ensure that each test is being applied to achieve its underlying objectives, is internally consistent, accounts for the full value of energy efficiency resources, and uses appropriate planning methodologies and assumptions, NHPC recommends best practices such as including the full range of program impacts, including energy savings; incorporating all avoided costs, including energy, capacity, and transmission and distribution costs; using an appropriate discount rate that reflects the risk of energy efficiency; and properly accounting for free ridership, spillover, and market transformation.

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