Energy Efficiency Programs Help Save Oregon Utility Customers $326 Million in 2014

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Energy Efficiency Programs

Energy Efficiency Programs Help Save Customers on Energy Bills in Oregon

The Energy Trust of Oregon’s energy efficiency programs and renewable energy programs–funded by a public purpose charge–helped save Oregon customers $326 million in 2014. By year-end, program participation grew 22 percent over 2013, climbing to more than 84,000 locations served.

Two-thirds of the savings came from measures installed by commercial and industrial customers, said Susan Jowaiszas, senior marketing manager for the Energy Trust of Oregon’s Commercial and Industrial program in this podcast.

The largest savings came from lighting upgrades, she said. “Typically 35 percent is used by lighting; it’s a rich source of savings.” Seventy percent of the projects involved the installation of LEDs, she said. That’s an increase of about 400 percent over 2011.

The declining cost of LEDs contributed to the increase, she noted. “Since 2008, they’ve declined by 30 percent in cost and manufacturers have increased their light output.”

“A large share of the savings were at restaurants and food service and production,” she noted.

Custom projects produced the largest share of savings from the industrial customers, she said.

“Customers’ energy-saving and renewable power projects put money back into their pockets and also grew Oregon’s clean energy economy by $247 million.” said a press release from Energy Trust.

Energy Trust achieved all of the Oregon Public Utility Commission’s annual minimum performance measures, including keeping program and administrative costs low, at 4.6 percent of annual revenues, said the press release. Since 2002, Energy Trust has helped save customers $1.9 billion.

In 2014, the Energy Trust invested $154 million to serve residential, commercial and industrial customers at more than 84,000 sites, according to the organization’s annual report. The measures saved more than 508 million kWh of electricity and nearly 5.7 annual therms of natural gas.

Last year was one of the Energy Trust’s highest-savings years on record, “despite dynamic market conditions, continued low natural gas prices and shifting state and federal tax credits. While continuing to keep administrative costs low, we provided tailored program offerings to achieve savings and generate energy from a mix of renewable resources. We increased targeted outreach efforts to reach and serve a broader set of customers, and focused on bringing new strategies and technologies to market to achieve long-lasting savings,” said the annual report.

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  1. “Saving more every year!!!”

    But were the savings real or made up? Were they measured savings, or “modelled”?

    When programs count on modeled savings to hit targets, they seem to have a suspicious ability to continually succeed beyond expectations. Then 4 – 5 years later the realization studies come back showing savings exaggerations by factors of 2 TO 3 TIMES original estimates.

    Oh well, to long ago to hold anyone accountable. Tough the consumer got hosed, sweep it under the rug.

  2. Ted, thanks for the question. Energy Trust of Oregon relies on impact evaluations, conducted after installation of energy-efficiency equipment and improvements, to tell us if savings met our initial estimates. These evaluations are based on a comparison of energy use or in some cases equipment use before and after the installation, adjusted for factors such as weather, and where practical also comparison to other customers who did not participate in our programs. Our evaluations are written or reviewed by third-party contractors, and subsequently reviewed by our board of directors evaluation committee and independent volunteer evaluation experts.

    Those results, and learnings from a regional technical advisory committee and other sources, are rolled into an annual report called “true up” which shows the adjusted savings. Sometimes there’s a significant correction for one program or for a certain type of measure, but overall the adjustments are pretty modest. The same evaluation results are also used to help forecast savings from efficiency measures in future years. So even where models are used to estimate savings, the results are adjusted based on prior experience with those models. Through evaluation, we’ve validated the savings estimates and used the learnings to report our results — ensuring we are running valuable programs and effectively investing customer dollars. Thanks again for the question.