NEEP has identified two innovative and advanced policy mechanisms to advance energy efficiency to meet climate goals: 1) deploying widespread energy efficiency measures, and 2) fuel switching gas and heating oil with renewable fuels, such as renewable electric and thermal technology
Energy efficiency, long considered a least cost gas and electric resource, is now a least cost decarbonization resource. Energy efficiency programs can help in achieving state climate and equity goals because they lower emissions from the building sector and lower emissions from the energy sector. By lowering and changing energy usage, there is less need for infrastructure buildout.
Energy efficiency programs must reach beyond the traditional goals of just saving energy and consider ways to propel state building decarbonization goals. Innovative program delivery and design is necessary to create comprehensive, whole-building strategies that achieve deep energy retrofits and implement new beneficial electrification technologies. This includes retrofitting homes and buildings, implementing incentives in the marketplace, and creating programs that have community and utility buy-in.
States and regulatory bodies can start shifting goals and policy objectives to include state climate goals within energy efficiency regulation by implementing the following policies:
- Evolve Energy Efficiency Programs: Energy efficiency programs can help achieve carbon goals in two ways: 1) provide a framework to create carbon reduction programs by changing metrics to require tracking carbon reduction, equity, and other state policies, not simply energy reduction, and 2) serve as a vehicle for bringing together distributed energy resources and other clean grid technology. By slightly shifting energy efficiency program goals, regulators could open these programs to new flexible grid technology such as batteries and grid-interactive efficient buildings.
- Implement Advanced EM&V Policy Metrics: Evaluation, measurement, and verification (EM&V) includes the design, reporting, and evaluation of energy efficiency programs. Energy efficiency program EM&V practices should align with state climate and equity policy to ensure that investments in energy efficiency program accomplish state goals. For more information about how metrics can be used to align policies, see NEEP’s Advanced M&V (M&V 2.0) webpage.
- Incorporate Equity in Access: As states implement ambitious climate and equity goals, it is important to be cognizant of past injustices and mitigate potential consequences. States can start to tackle these issues by working alongside historically marginalized communities, incorporating more data to inform program design, and creating programs that focus on the whole home and the whole community.
- Create a State Workforce Training and Transition Plan: The clean energy economy will require a new workforce. Even now, some states are starting to experience a shortage of trained workers and there is no doubt that the need will only increase as efforts ramp up. Therefore, it is important that states develop a workforce that is knowledgeable and skillful to ensure successful execution and access to these programs.