The State of Strategic Energy Management in the Northeast - Part 2

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In my last blog, The State of Strategic Energy Management in the Northeast, I gave an overview of NEEP’s efforts to assist with the adoption of Strategic Energy Management (SEM) in the commercial, industrial and municipal sectors in the Northeast. In this blog, I thought I would provide more detail on the SEM programs that are being offered by different states in the Northeast region.

Driven by a common mission to improve energy performance, SEM programs in Northeast states target different sectors, offer different program elements, and have initiated their program offerings at varying times since 2014. As you read on, you will learn that Vermont and New York were early promoters of SEM programs; and today, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut are also on board with respective program offerings. You will also learn that most states start off their SEM program offerings with pilot-stage programs to provide different cohorts (groups) with SEM training and guidance over a stipulated period of time. Typically, these cohorts leverage peer interaction to drive greater organizational change and volume of projects.

Early Programs

In late 2014, Vermont started its first rate-payer funded SEM pilot cohort program. Run by Efficiency Vermont, the cohort included participants from the state’s largest users of energy like hospitals and industries. The program was evaluated by The Cadmus Group - using pre/post linear regression models they were able to show energy savings quite early. By 2016, it started the second SEM cohort, but instead of including all sectors like the first cohort, the program focused on just ammonia refrigeration. In 2018, a third SEM cohort began that targeted chilled water systems. EVT is currently recruiting a fourth cohort that will focus on wastewater treatment facilities. One interesting thing that stands out regarding Efficiency Vermont’s SEM program management style is that, even today, it still works with its first-round cohort companies to help them realize continuous energy savings – it assists them with re-baselining for updated characterization and prediction of their energy use.

In New York, NYSERDA begin exploring SEM program offerings in 2015. The state started along this path with the goal to move away from incentive-based programs and more towards market transformation programs. With specific direction from upper management to avoid doing hundreds of programs and to focus on simply showing that programs can actually work, NYSERDA got approval to launch its first SEM pilot in late 2016. It solicited help from an energy consultant, VEIC, and in 2018, began its SEM pilot offerings that targeted both the industrial and water/wastewater sectors. NYSERDA noted that by the end of 2018, through its SEM pilot programs, participating companies were able to recognize employee engagement and energy savings. Currently, NYSERDA is seeking participants for a third industrial SEM cohort and a second water/wastewater cohort. It anticipates stronger attendance this year, and even greater potential for energy savings.

The SEM Trend Continues

In 2018, Cascade was selected by National Grid and Eversource to demonstrate SEM over a three-year period in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. With the involvement of two cohorts of participating companies – one in each state – the program was set up to gauge customer interest in SEM, as well as drive cost-effective energy savings from operations and maintenance (O&M) projects. The demonstration was projected to include customer recruiting, workshop delivery, on-site activities such as “treasure hunts” for O&M projects and energy performance tracking. Workshops were held for both Massachusetts and Rhode Island SEM cohorts in May of this year. So far, both cohorts have completed their baseline development and have treasure hunts scheduled for later in the year. It should be noted that the Massachusetts cohorts comprise both industrial and wastewater sites while the Rhode Island cohort includes only industrial sites.

Connecticut revamped its SEM program offerings in 2019 after being put on hold for a while due to funding constraints. With consultation and facilitation provided by Eversource, the Energize Connecticut initiative is targeting manufacturing, commercial, and governmental customers to participate in cohorts. It plans to assist customers to integrate energy management processes into their business operations, and to help them understand how business operations affect their energy consumption, thereby allowing them to make informed decisions on strategies to manage energy consumption. The actual timing for initiation of these programs would be identified soon.

It should be noted that most of the aforementioned states are currently considering 50001 Ready as part of their program offerings. Presently, NEEP is working with Cascade Energy and National Grid to train interested participants (who are currently participating their Massachusetts and Rhode Island SEM programs) to use US DOE’s 50001 Ready Navigator tool, which will prepare them for 50001 Ready recognition. SEM stakeholders who are aware of this effort are anxiously awaiting feedback – specifically to learn whether the use of the Navigator Tool is able to assist with easier adoption of SEM at participating companies.

I believe that Northeast states are well on their way to achieving continuous energy savings through their SEM programs. As part of our broader strategic electrification and market transformation goals, NEEP will continue to prioritize the accelerated adoption of SEM programs in the Northeast.

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