CEE and the Conservation Improvement Program: 2015 Wrap-up
In 2007, Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act established energy-saving goals for electric and gas utilities through the Conservation Improvement Program (CIP). Overseen by the Department of Commerce and driven by utility company rebates and incentives that pay for themselves, CIP encourages utilities to promote energy-efficient technologies, help homes and businesses cut energy costs, and reduce harmful emissions while conserving resources.
Each CIP strategy aims to strengthen our state’s economy and energy security. And though our state’s utility companies are required to provide rebates and access to energy efficiency opportunities, they don’t do it alone — partners like CEE also play a role.
For many years, CEE has managed a variety of CIP programs for Minnesota’s utility companies, assisting in the design and implementation of innovative, cost-effective efficiency programs for residential, multifamily, and commercial customers. We do this because we believe CIP opens doors to new strategies and technologies that help businesses and homeowners save energy and money, and serves as a powerful mechanism to improve our public health and environment, while strengthening our state’s economy. (Energy efficiency employs 10,000 Minnesotans at over 400 energy businesses statewide.)
CEE has had a long history of successes creating and delivering CIP-related programs, and 2015 has been no exception. 2015 highlights include:
One-Stop Efficiency Shop® is a full-service lighting rebate program available to small businesses in Xcel Energy's Minnesota service territory. One-Stop closed out an extremely successful 2015, meeting kilowatt savings goals and exceeding kilowatt-hour savings goals by 61%. One-Stop helped customers to benefit from 1,970 utility-issued rebates last year for a total of $6.1M. Participating businesses will realize $5.2M in annual savings or approximately $78M over the life of the equipment.
Home Energy Squad is a home energy efficiency program provided by Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, and delivered by CEE. In 2015 CEE exceeded all its Home Energy Squad program goals, with 2,668 home visits saving more than 1.77 million kilowatt-hours and over 218,000 therms. The program partners with several Minnesota cities that help reduce out-of-pocket costs for home visits. And thanks to the Clean Energy Partnership of the City of Minneapolis, CenterPoint Energy, and Xcel Energy, Minneapolis residents in late 2015 received 0% financing toward certain energy efficiency upgrades and income-qualified homes received free visits. (Neighborhood Energy Connection delivers the program for customers who are served exclusively by Xcel Energy for both gas and electric.)
Multifamily Energy Savings Program is a gas savings program for Minnesota's third-largest gas utility, Minnesota Energy Resources. The program has served more than 3,000 multifamily apartment units throughout the state, saving an average of $35 per apartment unit annually. The program is free for qualifying multifamily buildings, and includes professional installation of high-efficiency showerheads and faucet aerators along with a comprehensive building assessment and rebate assistance to participants undergoing building energy retrofits.
Small Business Energy Savings Program offers businesses that are customers of Minnesota Energy Resources and use approximately 20,000 therms or less per year energy efficiency analysis, direct installs, and follow-up consultation to implement additional efficiencies. The program served 223 customers in 2015, saving a total of 6,024 Dt of natural gas. CEE installed 412 programmable thermostats and correctly programmed 44 others to achieve heating savings that averaged 8% of total heating gas for each participant. The program met or exceeded 2014's performance, with customer visits amounting to about 89% of the year’s goal and savings at about 74% of goal.
Authorized Insultation Contractor Program provides high-quality insulation and air sealing services to residents in Minnesota Energy Resources’ service territory. The program requires contractors to sign a formal participation agreement and attend trainings, in exchange for access to significant utility-paid rebates for their customers; only work done by authorized contractors are eligible for these rebates, ensuring that customers receive quality work. Authorized contractors’ high program standards are verified through quality assurance reviews and on-site inspections. As of 2015, there are over 40 authorized contractors located around the state of Minnesota.
Regional Residential Energy Programs offer qualifying residents access to information and services to improve energy efficiency in their homes. In 2015, CEE conducted nine Neighborhood Energy Challenge workshops in Rochester with 314 households attending and 251 signing up for energy audits. Neighborhood Energy Challenge is cosponsored by Rochester Public Utilities and Minnesota Energy Resources. The program has won two awards — one by the American Center for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in 2013 and another in 2015 from the Rochester Energy and Environment Commission. The first-ever Community Energy Services workshop was held in Albert Lea last fall, generating a good deal of buzz, as it was a unique offering jointly sponsored by Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services and Minnesota Energy Resources.
- Energy Intelligence (EI) is a pilot program designed to help small industrial customers in Xcel Energy’s Minnesota service territory save energy by identifying energy waste. EI provides real-time feedback to help businesses identify and eliminate energy waste. EI has worked with 63 individual sites, including 26 that completed participation in 2015. On average, the program helps businesses identify potential annual energy savings of about 8%, although it is up to each customer to implement the changes needed to reduce their energy bills.
Each utility-supported program cited above has benefited from the technical know-how, creativity, administrative rigor, and data tracking of CEE’s program managers. At the same time, we at CEE recognize that Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program provides us with crucial opportunities to partner with the state’s utilities and put our program strategies in action.
The best partnerships are those in which all partners contribute, and from which all partners benefit. In the case of these notable programs, that includes CEE, our utility companies, local energy contractors, and the thousands of Minnesotans we annually serve together. Looking forward to continued successes for our shared efforts in 2016.