Aug 15, 2020

Implementation of Electric Utility Infrastructure Efficiency Projects

Jon Blaufuss

This paper was written for the ACEEE 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, with authors Travis Hinck, Adam Zoet, and Greg Dierkers.


Minnesota recently conducted agroundbreaking effort to apply proven, successful demand-side energy conservation policies to drive efficiency improvements in Electric Utility Infrastructure (EUI). EUI is defined as equipment operated by a utility used to deliver electricity to end users. It includes: substation and distributiontransformers,transmission and distribution lines, and generation facilities. Infrastructure hasbeen largely overlooked as a direct potential source of energyefficiency opportunity in the United States. A project supported by a U.S. Department of Energy(DOE) State Energy Programgrant convened national, state, and local stakeholdersfrom the public and private sectors to discusshow infrastructurecanbecome a core component of state energy efficiency savings goals. Outcomes of the project include:

  1. Guidance to reduce policy andregulatoryuncertainty concerning the role of infrastructure in conservation programs

  2. Technical tools to help utilities identify, evaluate and implement EUI projects

  3. A Potential Study that estimated EUI savings inMinnesota can conserveover 2 million MWh over 20 years

  4. Standardized savings calculation methodologies for common EUI projects

  5. An Action Plan with discrete recommendations for stakeholders in Minnesota to unlock EUI conservation potential. The Plan includes preliminary strategies to apply the findings nationwideand incorporate them into related initiatives such as Grid Modernization

Over time, the tools developed by these projects will increase utilities’ use of infrastructure efficiency projects to meet their energyconservation, emissions and environmental goals. As the backbone of the grid, infrastructure efficiency can be a core component of aclean energy future.