"If states are committed to reducing the strain on the electric grid, diversifying utility resource portfolios, reducing dependence on foreign markets, and reducing carbon emissions through the adoption of renewable resources, they should be just as willing to do so through the adoption of energy efficiency as they are through the purchase of renewable resources."
Streamlining cost-effectiveness tests will be difficult, Scott said, because a simple, accurate way to measure energy efficiency does not exist. "The difficulty is that you're trying to measure energy you didn't use. So really, you're measuring something that doesn't exist."
Many of the tests that do exist are so complicated that they may discourage utilities from adopting energy efficiency. Issues with cost-effectiveness testing will be difficult to fully remedy, Scott said, but these steps conducting assessments at a programmatic level, streamlining the precision of tests, and considering the development of national standards will move the bar forward.
Market barriers, Scott said, can be addressed through incentives. Some states, including Colorado and Michigan, have increased the size of incentives for consumers to take on energy efficiency programs (including, in some cases, reimbursing consumers 100 percent of their investment) and finding ways to make incentives more attractive to customers through advertising and education.
"There needs to be better marketing around efficiency," Scott said. "We need to make increasing energy efficiency as attractive as opting for 'green' or 'salmon-friendly' renewables."
|Contact: Inara Scott|
Oregon State University