Where Did the Money Go? The Cost and Performance of the Largest Commercial Sector DSM Programs"
Source: Lawrence Berkeley Lab
Date: 5/1/96    Record No.: 10319
Contact: For a copy, call Pat Juergens, 510-486-4266, pajuergens@lbl.gov

Where Did the Money Go? The Cost and Performance of the Largest Commer...
A new report published by staff scientists with Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory looks calculated the performance of 40 of the nation's largest utility-sponsored demand-side management programs and found that they saved energy at an average cost of $0.032 per KWh. This is almost 20 percent lower than had been reported in previous research, and as the study's authors put it, means funds allocated for energy efficiency by utilities have been "money well spent." The results are especially noteworthy given recent concerns that DSM programs cost more than anticipated while utility avoided costs have dropped.

Most surprisingly, given a recent tendency among utilities to increase customer contributions for DSM programs, is a finding that several of the least-expensive programs rely on significant customer cost contributions. Increasing the customer cost contribution in utility rebate programs has been embraced by many utilities lately as a way to reduce rate impacts.

The report concludes, however, that there is no reason to believe future programs that rely on these contributions will be more costly or less cost- effective. "We find that the decision to increase required customer contributions to the cost of energy saving measures has had little or no effect on the total cost of energy saved by the programs," the report said.

The study also found high costs associated with direct installation programs and that comparatively lower costs were associated with larger programs as measured by energy savings. The study also established that direct installation programs cost about $0.02/KWh more than rebate programs, and that program costs go down about $0.01/KWh for every 100 GWh in annual energy savings. The bigger the program, the more cost-effective it is. Utilities spent about $380 million on the 40 programs in the sample, which represented about one-third of the $1.2 billion spent by US utilities on DSM in 1992. Acceding to concerns about confidentiality, no programs or utilities were identified by name. Researchers added that data collection for the study was made especially difficult because many utilities adopted a "defensive position" about sharing information, citing impending "competition" .

Topics: END USE
Keywords: DSM