Helping Minnesota realize efficiency & cost savings potential
Research Insights share findings from CEE's energy efficiency research, drawing real-world links to help Minnesotans save energy and money, while lowering carbon emissions.
Minnesota’s energy codes and standards are generally a good thing for customers — they lead to homes, and commercial and residential buildings that consume energy more efficiently, which means reduced power use and demand, and improved energy savings.
But the more energy we save through codes and standards, the harder it gets to dig even deeper for more savings. In response to this challenge, CEE is conducting the Statewide Natural Gas and Electric Efficiency Carbon-saving Potential Study. The goal of this ongoing study is to support the future success of Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program by addressing the need to quantify electric, gas, and carbon savings potential for Minnesota utilities and consumers. Co-led by program and policy teams at CEE, the study is exploring the potential for energy savings across the state, and aims to provide step-by-step information about how to implement recommendations. It also examines existing technologies and best practices for program delivery, key market segments, and policy strategies that enhance cost-savings.
“To measure energy efficiency’s potential, our study clearly demands a technical approach — but technology alone is no silver bullet,” explains Carl Nelson, director of program development. “As I’ve spoken with practitioners statewide, I've been struck by how much our energy progress will depend on human commitments from all people involved, and less on the technical stuff.”
Here are a few other unique features about the potential study and its value, for utilities and for consumers:
- Practical, actionable results: The study encourages stakeholder participation to ensure that the results are both relevant and actionable. This is important because the knowledge gained from this research can easily be used by utilities to bring more savings to consumers (i.e., lower monthly electric bills, less energy consumed).
- Recommendations that are grounded in experience: The study’s strategies and analyses are based on real interactions with Minnesota electric and gas utilities, resulting in better informed recommendations.
- Quantification to enhance energy savings: The study quantifies the savings potential of CIP program efforts, providing utilities in specific market sectors and geographic areas with energy saving measures that are the most cost-effective.
Nelson goes on to emphasize the importance of its technical aspects, but notes that the people aspect of the study is just as strong. After all, it’s people that make energy efficiency potential a reality: “Progress is driven by individual energy champions who work hard to educate people about opportunities, fight to finance promising projects, and collaborate with homeowners and businesses to implement the technical stuff."
CEE’s research team has also created memos, highlighting parts of the potential study model; these include avoided costs, sales forecasts, and measurement characteristics. In addition, the efficiency and carbon-saving potential study is being conducted in conjunction with another study — a supply-side energy saving potential study that supports policy recommendations that further energy efficiency. Both studies enable Minnesota businesses and consumers to lower their electricity costs and energy use while reducing harmful emissions.
To learn more about the study on natural gas and electric efficiency carbon-saving potential, and other CEE research projects, check out our project pages and upcoming Field Notes newsletter.