The August/September issue of the American Gas cover story titled, The Next Big Market, examines the energy efficiency programs at PSE&G, Con Edison, and Avista, and how targeted outreach to small and midsize businesses can lead to significant energy savings for customers.
With most large commercial buildings already benefiting from in energy efficiency, the market for retrofits in small and medium commercial building is the next step in energy efficiency, with the goal of finding the right approach and most cost-effective ways to help save energy. In New Jersey, PSE&G’s Direct Install program targets small-use customers, defined as those with 200 kilowatt hours or less in annual electricity demand. PSE&G further narrows its eligibility criteria to certified nonprofits, municipal customers such as city halls and firehouses, and small businesses in New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zones that are in PSE&G’s territory. Cost-effectiveness is a key criterion in evaluating the feasibility of proposed projects. PSE&G pays 100 percent of project costs upfront, and customers repay 30 percent. Its budget for this program has been $15 million, recovered through rates, and it expects to serve 400 to 450 customers.
Con Edison’s Multifamily Energy Efficiency Gas Program targets one of its highest-consuming gas sectors—multifamily housing units—which typically shelters 30 to 40 units each. Its annual budget is $75 million, now recovered through rates. The program covers about 500 buildings a year and is nearing 3,200 total. Con Edison customer incentives support a technology upgrade in indoor temperature feedback systems, which have generated an estimated 20 percent in energy savings from heating usage by regulating boiler cycles based on indoor temperatures rather than outdoor.
Avista’s Small Business Program offers free installation of simple energy savers such as aerators, spray nozzles and showerheads for small businesses in its Washington and Idaho service territories. In addition, prescriptive rebates encourage investments in energy-efficient system upgrades. The program budget is $2 million, which encompasses the cost of the direct-labor and materials, funded from electric and natural gas Demand Side Management tariffs. As of April 2017, the program has delivered natural gas savings of more than 70,000 therms. The utility is targeting 10,000 small businesses, and about 6,000 so far have benefited from its Small Business Program. Of those, about 10 percent have pursued custom projects revealed through Avista audits, taking advantage of incentives for gas-saving upgrades to heating and water-heating systems, insulation or food service equipment.
Utilities are partnering with small and midsize businesses to enhance energy saving opportunities for their customers. By tailoring small and midsize business energy efficiency programs to local needs, experience and expectations, utilities can start to build new and highly successful partnerships.
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