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Using geographic information systems (GIS) to identify energy efficiency opportunities

Geographic information systems (GIS) have experienced growing utilization in the energy sector for asset management and identification, grid analytics, and site analysis for distributed energy resources. Deploying GIS for energy efficiency is comparatively less common, and existing work has largely been focused on applying spatial analytics for identifying residential energy efficiency opportunities. This is due in part to low or no-cost robust national residential datasets with demographic and building profile characteristics.

Publicly available robust commercial and industrial (C&I) energy efficiency data is comparatively harder to access, and variability within the C&I landscape is much greater than in the residential built environment. Utilities and energy efficiency program administrators are now in a prime position to leverage their internal data and GIS to understand how geographically discreet regions and locations consume energy and participate in energy efficiency programs.

Geographic visualization and analysis of data currently collected by utilities and energy efficiency program administrators is a powerful and underutilized tool for identifying energy efficiency opportunities. Energy efficiency program tracking and energy consumption billing data capture geographic information ranging from utility service territory all the way down to individual meter locations. However, when these datasets are analyzed, more often than not the spatial information is either dropped from the analysis or treated as a categorical bin for organizing and displaying tabular data. The spatial element of the utility data is either ignored, or presented in a way that obscures valuable insight into the trends and geographic differences among utility customers. Program administrators may be missing out on geographically discreet opportunities to better serve hard-to-reach efficiency markets.

DNV GL is using GIS to assist the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Program Administrators in developing an enhanced understanding of their energy efficiency data by spatially evaluating program penetration, participation trends, energy savings, and customer evolution across years. The resulting data provide the utilities with a new look at the geographic evolution and dynamics within their efficiency offerings, and can also enhance existing analyses by presenting a more comprehensive picture of the efficiency landscape than a single table or chart can offer. Through the application of geospatial analysis software, utilities can potentially improve their targeted offers to customers, increase the adoption of energy-efficient technologies, and more effectively evaluate what is happening, where it is happening, and why it is happening.

To learn more about how DNV GL is accomplishing this for the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Program Administrators and see what these analyses look like in practice, read the final report when it is posted on the Massachusetts Energy Efficiency Advisory Council website (ma-eeac.org) and come to our presentation on this engagement at the 2014 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings (aceee.org).

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