On September 30, the Oregon Public Utility Commission announced a decision on a portion of natural gas energy-efficiency measures and programs currently supported by Energy Trust through an OPUC exception to the cost-effectiveness requirement. This decision followed a public process conducted by the OPUC to gather data and information on the costs and benefits of these measures. Energy Trust was a participant in this process and provided information to the OPUC and other groups seeking to understand the energy savings, benefits and costs of these measures.
“We appreciate the public process through which the OPUC commissioners conducted their review, carefully considering our technical report and the feedback from the public and industry,” said Margie Harris, executive director, Energy Trust.
The OPUC decision requires that Energy Trust implement changes to some measures and programs offered in Oregon, particularly residential, multifamily and solar program offerings. Most existing offers for residential, commercial and industrial customers are unaffected by this decision.
“Energy Trust helps customers assess their opportunities for energy savings, and guides them to contractors, information and services,” said Peter West, energy programs director, Energy Trust. “The measures identified by the OPUC to be discontinued do save energy, but customers may not see enough energy and bill savings to justify the costs of installation. And, we know that customers will continue to be interested in these improvements. Energy Trust will be ready to assist customers seeking information during this time of change to our incentives and programs.”
As stewards of utility customer dollars, Energy Trust is required by law to use cost-effectiveness analyses and tests to ensure incentive dollars are provided for energy-efficiency improvements that pay back a customer’s investment within a reasonable timeframe and benefit all utility customers. Given the low cost of natural gas and other factors, Energy Trust requested and the OPUC granted a cost-effectiveness exception to see if steps could be taken and costs lowered to improve the cost-effectiveness of measures not passing the tests. The OPUC came to its decision after a two-year process that included reviewing a technical report provided by Energy Trust and conducting a public comments process during summer and fall of 2014.
Summary of the OPUC decision
The OPUC order on Docket 1622 contains the full details of the OPUC decision, including exceptions requested by Energy Trust that were approved, and recommendations made by Energy Trust that were adopted by the OPUC relating to program performance reporting and the process for reviewing certain exceptions. Energy Trust will provide updates to customers and contractors in the coming months as details are refined and plans are developed through the annual 2015 budgeting process.
The following gas-saving measures were addressed in the order:
- Residential and commercial solar water heating and solar pool heating (discontinue new incentive commitments after November 7, 2014)
- Single-family wall, floor and duct insulation (discontinue after April 30, 2015)
- Single-family air sealing (discontinue as a stand-alone measure after April 30, 2015; continue only through a pilot initiative combining air sealing and ceiling insulation)
- Multifamily wall, floor and duct insulation (discontinue after April 30, 2015)
- Multifamily windows (discontinue after April 30, 2015)
- Commercial vent hoods with variable speed drives, 2 and 2.5 horsepower (discontinue after January 1, 2015)
- New commercial buildings condensing tank water heater (modify; except for school buildings, discontinue when not cost-effective after January 1, 2015)
- New commercial non-multifamily buildings with condensing unit heater (modify; discontinue when not cost-effective after January 1, 2015)