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Advancing energy efficiency in the Northeast

The 2012 Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) Summit in Stamford, Connecticut, June 13–14, focused on residential lighting the first day and the business case for energy efficiency on the second day. Here are a few highlights from the event.

The Governor of Connecticut aims higher. 
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced a new website, Energizect.com, with a slogan “empowering people to make smart energy choices.” He made it clear that his policy would continue to emphasize efficiency as a resource and that he intends to increase the ratepayer benefits charge and push for higher levels of efficiency in the state—a goal of 2.5 percent of sales each year saved. Governor Malloy’s goal is to make Connecticut the number one state in pursuing and achieving efficiency in the country. Connecticut is currently eighth in the United States, despite having the highest price of electricity in the contiguous states.

Regional organizations expressed the business case for energy efficiency. 
Two round tables featured business customers, industry groups, and government representatives who spoke about why they have pursued efficiency, why it made sense to their organization, and how program sponsors could learn from their experiences and evolve the attractiveness of efficiency offerings. Awards were presented to organizations identified as efficiency champions, which included Big Y, Novartis, Macy’s, Sikorsky Aircraft, and Wesleyan University. 

Energy efficiency is making a bigger splash. 
It was clear from the keynote speaker that the increasing budgets and savings goals for efficiency programs in the Northeast are getting greater attention in regional electric resource planning. While efficiency has always been recognized as a valuable resource, the practice of incorporating it into regional planning is gaining more traction and importance. As the market continues to move in this direction, the performance of rigorous evaluation, measurement and verification becomes more important. Common evaluation and planning issues such as how to handle naturally occurring efficiency and standards and codes also become more consequential in this paradigm.

Light bulbsThe LED market is taking shape. 
From the Residential Lighting workshop, we were reminded that the age of LEDs is dawning. New York State appears to be the first in the region to no longer support standard CFLs as it looks to the future of LEDs. All others in the Northeast are continuing to support CFLs, but rebate levels are dropping. Multiple manufacturers, including Philips, Osram Sylvania, and General Electric, provided in-depth presentations and booth exhibits of their new omni-directional LED technologies. LED prices have been decreasing rapidly from approximately $50 in 2011 to $25 at present, and they will likely settle in the teens by year end. Despite the widespread recognition that LEDs will be the lighting of the future, concern lingers over how the programs might bridge this time of transition in the market from CFLs. 

“Goodbye, watts. Hello, lumens.”
To assist in this transition, there is a movement afoot among manufacturers and the U.S. Department of Energy to move away from referring to bulbs by their watt category and to begin referring to them by their lumen category. The purpose of this movement is for consumers to become more interested in replacing the lumens of an existing light bulb rather than the watts used. 

Programs are seen in a different light with net vs. gross savings. 
Lighting program administrators discussed recent challenges in meeting net benefit standards prescribed by state commissions. In some cases, lighting programs had significant discrepancies between estimated net and gross savings, meaning a smaller proportion of measurable savings was able to be attributed to the administered program. With more LED programs on the horizon, additional evaluation challenges loom, such as how LED savings will be measured when replacing an incandescent vs. a CFL lamp.

The NEEP Summit served as both an acknowledgement of the success the energy efficiency industry has had in the Northeast, as well as a platform for considering the challenges that lie ahead.    

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