Optimal’s expertise in all aspects of energy efficiency and demand-side management positions us to provide clients with a range of strategic guidance and advice on energy and efficiency-related policy issues.
Optimal Energy has a long history of providing high-level strategic guidance and policy support to a variety of public and private organizations. Optimal was part of the team that developed the concept of a state-wide efficiency utility for Vermont and advocated for it before the state legislature and utility commission. Since then, we have also served a vital role providing guidance to the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council and the Rhode Island Energy Efficiency Resource Management Council. These entities monitor and guide the implementation of some of the most advanced efficiency portfolios in the country. Our work for these Councils provides an indication of the range of support we can provide to our clients.
- Providing guidance on setting efficiency and renewable energy targets for both electric and gas utilities
- Reviewing proposed efficiency portfolios for reasonableness, comprehensiveness, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness
- Advising on utility cost-recovery mechanisms
- Developing utility performance metrics and tracking progress towards these metrics
- Training and educating program staff, regulators, and stakeholders on relevant topics
- Providing guidance on best-practice program strategies
- Developing and reviewing evaluation plans and interpreting evaluation study results
- Conducting market-specific analyses to inform strategic and policy decisions
Read about the role of state energy efficiency stakeholder councils here.
Ever increasing energy efficiency program goals demand new ways of thinking and new delivery models. Optimal works with clients to look beyond traditional delivery models and design their programs to meet the goals of the future.
Optimal works with clients to look beyond traditional delivery models and design their programs to meet the goals of the future. We provide clients with expert knowledge in several areas of program design, listed below. We can address an entire portfolio, as we recently did for the state of Delaware, or specific market segments such as multifamily housing.
New efforts to replace traditional downstream incentive strategies with midstream and upstream strategies are proving to provide greater savings with lowering both administrative and incentive costs. A paper co-authored by Optimal staff describes the success of this strategy in Massachusetts. Another innovative program design that we have promoted is in municipal streetlighting.
Program design expertise:
- Midstream and upstream strategies to replace traditional downstream incentive strategies
- Segmentation strategies and segment-specific strategies
- Market-based delivery strategies
- Account management and sales strategies
- Custom and prescriptive program design
- Direct install program design
Potential Analysis and Initial Program Planning
Optimal supports clients’ resource and program planning efforts by providing technical and economic assessments of the potential for energy savings and distributed renewable energy generation.
Potential analysis helps to quantify the potential for cost-effective energy efficiency resources and opportunities for savings. Such studies represent an important first step in launching clean energy initiatives and provide information needed to evaluate efficiency as an alternative to supply side resources, set goals and funding levels, and design programs and policies. Optimal’s potential assessments typically involve the following components
- Estimate technical, economic and achievable potential efficiency opportunities
- Characterize costs and performance of efficiency and renewable technologies
- Forecast market penetration and savings levels
- Integrate efficiency and renewable generation resources into long term resource plans
- Provide independent assessments of existing potential studies to determine their utility and applicability to the current situation and context
Our economic modeling tools have been developed and refined over more than 15 years and include a comprehensive database of measure characterizations based on industry and economic standard practices. In 2014 we completed potential studies for New York and Delaware. In 2007 Optimal Energy authored a “Guide for Conducting Energy Efficiency Potential Studies” a resource of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency.
Technical Support and EM&V Services
Optimal has developed savings algorithms and calculation methodologies for thousands of measures for dozens of clients. Our methodologies continually result in high levels of accuracy and excellent realization rates for our clients. These skills and experience also translate into expertise in evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V).
From the simplest prescriptive measures to the most complex custom project types, our team can develop defensible, documented savings calculations. These can be used as part of a Technical Reference Manual (TRM) or in support of a potential study, or incorporated into cost-effectiveness screening tools. We also leverage these ability to provide clients with direct support for project savings claims and as part of independent evaluation efforts.
Specific capabilities in this area include:
- Cost-effectiveness tools and screening
- Lighting and HVAC measure savings analysis
- Custom measure savings analysis
- Technical Reference Manual or “deemed” savings methodologies
- Development of savings calculation tools
- Energy modeling
- Emerging efficiency technology research and analysis
- Project savings claim evaluation and review
Optimal’s consultants are often called upon to serve as subject matter experts before regulatory commissions and governmental agencies. This includes providing both informal guidance and written or oral testimony to commissioners, hearing officers, and their staff.
Optimal’s consultants are skilled at providing objective and persuasive testimony to support our analyses and research findings. In recent years Optimal staff have appeared before public utility commissions in Virginia, West Virginia and Illinois. Our testimony and guidance have addressed several issues and topic areas:
- The potential for efficiency investments to meet forecasted utility loads
- The benefits of demand-side resources as compared to supply-side resources
- How efficiency is treated in Integrated Resource Plans
- Assessing proposed efficiency investments for comprehensiveness, adherence to best-practices, and likelihood of success
- Balancing the impacts of proposed utility cost-recovery mechanisms and performance incentives