From border to border, CEE reaches statewide with Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program
CEE partners with utility companies to deliver energy conservation programs throughout Minnesota that save energy and improve the competitiveness of businesses and the comfort of our homes. Much of this work is powered by Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), which uses a variety of strategies to strengthen our state’s economy along with our energy security. Through CIP, Minnesota’s utility companies are required to provide energy efficiency opportunities and rebates for their customers, often in close collaboration with partners like CEE.
CIP was established after Minnesota’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act specified energy-saving goals for electric and gas utilities. Overseen by the Department of Commerce and driven by utility company rebates and incentives that pay for themselves, CIP helps homes and businesses cut energy use — and energy costs — while also reducing harmful emissions. Our teams channel their research, experience, and innovation into program delivery that serves hard-to-reach customer groups. Of the various CIP-supported programs that CEE delivers on behalf of our utility clients, our 2016 highlights include:
One-Stop Efficiency Shop® is a full-service lighting rebate program available to small businesses in Xcel Energy's Minnesota service territory. In 2016, one of its most successful years to date, One-Stop provided rebates to more than 2,600 participating businesses and generated approximately $31 million in labor and materials for local electricians and lighting distributors, resulting in a total savings of 14.3 megawatts and 83 gigawatt-hours (or about 1,245 GWh over the lifetime of the installed equipment). Continuation of the program was also approved for another three years, and One-Stop will add HVAC services and rebates to its portfolio starting in 2017.
Home Energy Squad is a home energy efficiency program provided by Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, and delivered by CEE. In 2016, we completed 2,489 visits and exceeded our gas and electric savings goals, saving Minnesotans 227,750 therms and 1.8 million kilowatt-hours. In addition to this, we partnered with the City of Minneapolis to provide visits for income-qualified residents at no cost, amounting to 220 visits in 2016. The program will offer income-qualified visits for at least the next three years.
Multifamily Energy Savings Program is provided by Minnesota's third-largest gas utility, Minnesota Energy Resources. From Worthington to International Falls, this free program helps multifamily buildings cut energy costs through energy-saving installations and building energy assessments. Ranging from five units to over 100 units in size, more than 50 multifamily buildings participated in the program in 2016, surpassing their energy savings goal for the year. All told, the program has now served over 4,000 multifamily apartment units in Minnesota, saving an average of $35 per unit annually.
Regional Residential Energy Programs offer information and services to improve energy efficiency for qualifying residents served by Austin Public Utilities, Freeborn Mower Cooperative Services, Minnesota Energy Resources, Owatonna Public Utilities, and Rochester Public Utilities in communities throughout Greater Minnesota. In 2016, we held five Neighborhood Energy Challenge workshops in Rochester, one Community Energy Services workshop in Albert Lea, and one in Owatonna. Of the 150 participating households who learned how to make their homes more efficient, 141 also undertook energy audits in 2016. We've consistently seen high rates of workshop attendees going on to sign up for energy audits and make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes.
Energy Intelligence is a pilot program designed to help small industrial customers in Xcel Energy’s Minnesota service territory save energy by identifying energy waste. Energy Intelligence provides real-time feedback to help businesses identify and eliminate energy waste. In 2016 Energy Intelligence met its goal of recruiting 36 new customers in the small industrial sector. By working directly with customers to analyze interval meter data, we identified average savings of almost 9% per site — well above our 5% program goal.
Authorized Insulation Contractor Program provides insulation and air-sealing services to residents in Minnesota Energy Resources’ service territory. Participating contractors are given access to special utility-paid rebates that are available exclusively through the program. This year, we refined our efforts to spread the word about available resources and insulation rebate offerings. We also helped to develop an instructional video that emphasizes the benefits of insulation, air-sealing, and the rebate program.
And before concluding its service offering in 2016, the Small Business Energy Savings Program worked with small business customers of Minnesota Energy Resources, offering energy efficiency analysis, direct installs, and follow-up consultation to implement efficiencies. The program contacted over 13,000 customers in the past three and a half years. In its final year, we helped 80 small businesses save 3,235 dekatherms total, primarily by installing 152 programmable thermostats and reprogramming an additional 26.
CEE’s nonprofit mission is to strengthen the economy while improving the environment. The Conservation Improvement Program provides us with crucial opportunities to pursue our work in close partnership with the state’s utilities. In turn, each utility program reaps the benefits of our staff’s technical know-how, creativity, administrative rigor, and data tracking.
And the impact is real. CIP opens doors to new strategies and technologies that help businesses and homeowners save energy and money, and it serves as a powerful mechanism to improve our public health and environment while strengthening our state’s economy. In Minnesota alone:
About 13% of electricity demand is met through utility efficiency programs.
Energy efficiency supports over 55,000 jobs statewide.
Conservation has helped save Minnesotans over $6 billion in the last couple decades.
For every dollar spent, CIP generates about $4 in benefits, many of which are illustrated by our roundup above. We’re pleased to play such a meaningful and cost-effective role in the state’s long-term energy management, and we look forward to exciting innovations and ongoing savings for all in the coming year.