Energy Efficiency:
Regional Energy Networks

 

Background

In December 2012, the CPUC issued a Decision, which invited local governments to submit regional pilot programs for the 2013-2014 Energy Efficiency program cycle. The purpose of the pilots was to draw on capacity and innovative ideas from local governments, particularly from experience gleaned during their administration of federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. 

 This CPUC Decision approved portfolios of energy efficiency programs for two Regional Energy Networks (REN), BayREN and SoCalREN, based on certain criteria:  

  • The utilities cannot or do not intend to undertake. 
  • There is no current utility offering ,with potential for scalability if successful. 
  • They serve hard-to-reach markets, regardless of current utility program activity.   

The CPUC ordered that the pilots be evaluated to determine whether they were successful and should be scaled up in future program years, or be discontinued.   

The CPUC issued a Ruling in January 2016 requesting comments from parties on the Regional Energy Networks, including what programs to continue/discontinue and whether the networks should remain independent administrators of their own portfolios. 

 

ORA Position

ORA reviewed the available evaluation results and found that the CPUC should terminate some of the least cost-effective pilot programs due to the extraordinarily low rate of return, on the order of $0.04-$0.06 for every $1 spent. The pilot programs included the Single Family Home Upgrade Programs (SoCalREN and BayREN) and the Multi-Family Home Upgrade Program (SoCalREN).
ORA recommended that the CPUC should not authorize the funding of additional Regional Energy Network pilots at this time. However, the CPUC should continue funding:
 

  • The BayREN multifamily pilot program - while further studies are pending, given that the evaluation showed that while it’s not cost-effective that it was close enough to utility performance to warrant continuation while a more rigorous evaluation is performed.
     
  •  The Non-Resource Pilot Programs - (such as Outreach, training, and administrative support programs that do not directly result in energy savings) in order to gather more data to determine whether the Regional Energy Networks have a distinct advantage over the utilities in this area. 

The Regional Energy Networks should remain Program Administrators for their continuing programs. ORA recommends that the CPUC should revise the scope of its upcoming evaluations in order to have a clear and complete record upon which to base its decision by Summer 2017. 

See ORA’s February 26, 2016 Comments on Regional Energy Networks.
 

Proceeding Docket

See the Proceeding docket. 

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