Panel: The Transition Toward Energy Efficiency And Distributed Energy Resources
(Natural Resource Security, Energy and Environmental Policy)

Friday, November 3, 2017: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Soldier Field (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Yueming (Lucy) Qiu, University of Maryland, College Park
Panel Chairs:  Douglas Noonan, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
Discussants:  Daniel Matisoff, Georgia Institute of Technology and Robert Kelter, The Environmental Law & Policy Center

Green-Certified Commercial Buildings and Impact on Electric Load Profile: Implications for Cost-Benefit Analysis of Energy Efficiency Policies
Yueming (Lucy) Qiu, University of Maryland, College Park and Matthew Kahn, University of Southern California

Deploying Distributed Energy Resources: Classifying Barriers and Opportunities Among Municipal Utilities and Rural Electric Cooperatives
Kimberley A. Mullins1, Stephanie Lenhart2 and Elizabeth Wilson1, (1)University of Minnesota, (2)Boise State University

The electricity sector is a key contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and plays a critical role in energy security and independence. Two key technological advancements have emerged as a focal point for states wishing to transition to cleaner sources of electricity: energy efficiency, which reduces  the energy input for a given unit of energy service output; and distributed energy resources and load management technologies, which allow electricity users to self-generate or shift the timing of consumption. Both are widely recognized as key options to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions while maintaining the stability, reliability, and sustainability of the electricity supply. However, in practice these technologies pose challenges for the utilities that implement them and for policy makers who seek to promote them, and there has been debate about whether such technologies actually work as intended in the field. To address these policy-related issues, this panel brings together four papers that examines the roles of state policies, electric utilities, and technologies in managing, deploying, and delivering energy efficiency and distributed energy resources in the United States. Also contributing to the broader theme of this year’s conference on Better Data for Better Decisions, each paper uses unique and innovative datasets, data collection and analysis methods, and highlights the important role that data and analysis must play if utilities and states are to transition to a cleaner energy future.

The first paper examines how investments in commercial building energy efficiency technologies through obtaining green-certificates can impact electric load profile, via a unique “Big Data” approach using account-level high frequency electricity data for precise impact evaluation. The results suggest that energy efficiency in commercial buildings helps reduce peak hour electricity demand and increase off-peak hour demand. Such impact has important implications for the cost-and-benefit analysis of utilities energy efficiency policies as well as for environmental benefit assessment.  The second paper evaluates the role of collaborative governance as a causal factor that shapes utility and state energy efficiency savings, highlighting the role that expert stakeholders play in providing policy-relevant data and analysis. This mixed methods paper uses interview and archival data to generate hypotheses that are quantitatively tested with panel data analysis. The third paper investigates how difficult it is to deliver energy efficiency to consumers by utilities, analyzing the award-winning energy efficiency programs run by utilities. The study builds a unique database of 63 exemplary energy efficiency programs. By examining the implementation and effectiveness of these programs, the paper aims to find out the key design features of utility program to successfully deliver energy-efficiency. The last paper focuses on a critical but understudied population in this space – municipal and rural electric cooperative utilities, serving one in five electricity customers in the United States. Through qualitative data analysis on interviews with municipal and electric cooperative utilities in Minnesota, the paper provides insight to industry stakeholders and recommendations to policy makers on how to support distributed energy resources in this understudied segment of the electricity industry.