Minnesota Energy Efficiency Potential Study: 2020–2029
Program findings and recommendations
The project team conducted a review of utility energy efficiency programs in Minnesota and nationally to make recommendations about program implementation that will be useful for utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders in designing and implementing programs for 2020 and beyond.
In reviewing current programs in Minnesota, the study team found that:
- Minnesota currently has some of the lowest-cost and best-performing conservation programs in the country;
- Utilities in Minnesota — both investor-owned utilities and consumer-owned utilities — have been proactive in designing and implementing comprehensive, effective and innovative program models;
- Smaller utilities (the majority of Minnesota utilities, by number) face additional challenges in implementing programs;
- Deep relationships with trade allies have helped utilities deliver programs;
- The most successful consumer-owned utility programs involve cooperation among utilities; and
- Some utilities have achieved enhanced performance through joint natural gas-electric programs.
Based on the technical work done for this study, the study team found that:
- Residential electric programs will need to transition from lighting to cold climate air source heat pumps in order to capture the largest potential of savings;
- Lighting declines in importance for the commercial and industrial sector, but still represents a large portion of total potential savings;
- Refrigeration is another large source of electric potential savings; and
- Space heating measures continue to dominate natural gas potential, with smart thermostats being the largest new source of potential savings.
In order to continue to achieve high savings in the future, the study team provides the following recommendations for utilities implementing CIP programs:
- Continue to test promising new approaches;
- Offer comprehensive program designs for larger and harder-to-reach customers;
- Develop upstream incentives and associated program support in selected markets;
- Incorporate operational savings into commercial and industrial programs;
- Employ segment-specific strategies to reach customers;
- Deepen trade ally engagement and training efforts;
- Incorporate advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)-enabled capabilities into programmatic strategies;
- Leverage interest by local governments in energy efficiency; and
- Improve coordination amount utilities through coordinating more closely on trade ally outreach and training, and working toward further coordinated implementation of programs.
The following policy conclusions represent the project team’s effort to identify solutions that will help ensure Minnesota continues to maximize cost-effective energy efficiency resources into the next decade. Extensive stakeholder outreach was done for this study; the project team attempted to synthesize this outreach in crafting the conclusions, seeking common ground where possible. The project team also used relevant data from this study to inform the recommendations.
The recommendations are organized around three issue areas:
- Achievement of CIP goals;
- Regulatory oversight of CIP; and
- Incorporating demand-response and efficient fuel-switching into CIP.
The conclusions are summarized in Table ES-3, along with key stakeholder input and findings from this study.