“Achievable Potential is not limited to utilities’ willingness to pay”

…this was my favorite quote from the NEEA/BPA conference last week, not just because of what it says but because of who delivered it too.  Tom Eckman, the Chairman of the RTF and regionally dubbed “godfather of energy efficiency”, delivered these words during his closing remarks to an audience of about 400.  The importance of this quote is that most utility staff – in my experience only – mis-understand how achievable potential is derived from technical and economic potential. In response to a follow up question that I posed to the forum Tom further elaborated (paraphrased):

The Council’s supply curves and resource forecasts both… are interested in all the resources required – whether the load resource reduction is created by utility programs, codes, standards or independent action – they are they’re still the load, and they’re still the reduction in the load.   [emphasis added]

No matter where [conservation] comes from we need to cognizant of it, otherwise we’ll end up over-forecasting forever, and we’ll build too many resources.  Oversupply costs a lot….

I love these quotes because they drive home the fact that from a resource planning perspective if we are treating energy efficiency as a resource we shouldn’t care about what motivates energy efficiency activity, we should only care about how much energy efficiency is completed – with or without utility incentive dollars. How a utility or a regulatory body treats expenses to account for these “total market effects” of energy efficiency might be a different story…


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