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Starting an Energy Outreach (T&E) Program in California
Energy efficiency offers entrepreneurial opportunities for outreach, training and education to support utility companies and statewide energy programs.
FIRST: Know the System (and Players)
"The California Standard Offer Program For Energy Efficiency"
The WEM/SESCO Coalition developed an education, outreach program to businesses and consumers through which multiple non-IOU entities administer energy efficiency programs by overseeing a continuous "standard offer program".
The system is modeled after the structure of an outreach program in Texas.
Under the WEM/SESCO Coalition proposal,
- Program implementers would only get paid after the measures are installed and verified through field inspections conducted by EM&V contractors.
- Savings per measure are based on "deemed" estimates, i.e., on engineering data or load impact studies, without on-site testing or metering.
Here's how the standard offer program would work:
Implementation of an Energy Incentives Program
The program implementer approaches residential customers in a specific geographic area to install measures. The type of measures to be installed is the decision between the energy service provider and the customer. The incentive typically does not cover the full cost of the measures that are installed, and the customer usually must make a contribution. The level of the contribution is also between the customer and the program implementer.
Typically, projects for residential customers involve insulating homes or upgrading heating or cooling systems.
The standard offer (incentives) program includes a list of measures with associated "deemed" savings, and the program implementer is credited those savings once that particular installation (or a sample of the installations of that implementer) has been inspected. After that occurs, assuming that the inspector finds the measures to be installed properly, the program implementer receives a payment for the credited savings based on a percentage of avoided costs.
Who are the players of this incentives outreach program in California? An additional 15 organizations and businesses indicated their support of this incentives proposal, including PacifiCorp, Alliance to Save Energy, Association of California Energy Efficiency Contractors, Institute of Heating and Air Conditioning Industries, The New Buildings Institute and League of California Homeowners, along with several private energy service providers.
Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs)
Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) "may perform some of the same administrative functions as the program administrator and also implement programs pursuant to AB 117.
WEM (Womens Energy Matters) lists a total of 40 "Coalition member groups" and "environmental and energy activists" in support of this proposal, including the authors. WEM/SESCO (WEM/SESCO Coalition (also referred to as the California Coalition for Energy Efficiency) proposal.
AB 117 Community Choice Aggregation
AB 117: Local Government Commission: Energy Information Clearinghouse.
AB 117, permits any city, county or city and county to aggregate the electric loads of residents, businesses and municipal facilities to facilitate the purchase and sale of electrical energy.
In addition to coalition members, American Lighting, American Synergy Corporation, Cal-Ucons, ICF Associates, Inc. and the National Association of Energy Service Companies, Association of Bay Area Governments and UCAN support of this approach.
two third-party implementers in Texas (Quality Conservation Services, Inc. and TEDCO Energy Services) support the program.
Other players include:
California Coalition for EE (WEM/SESCO)
Efficiency California (TURN/ORA Coalition)
Reaching New Heights (NRDC/LIF Coalition Amended)
Integrated Portfolio Mgmt (IOUs Coalition)
Renewables, Energy Efficiency and the Environment
California Public Utilities Commission plays a key role in making California a national and international leader on a number of energy related initiatives and policies designed to benefit consumers, the environment, and the economy.
California's Renewable Energy
- California's Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) has the most ambitious renewables goals in the country.
- The California Solar Initiative is a comprehensive $2.8 billion program that provides incentives towards solar development over 11 years.
- Energy Efficiency Homepage
- Energy Efficiency Program Savings - EEGA
Climate Change and the Environment
PUC's aggressive Climate Change initiatives, such a greenhouse gas emissions performance standard.
- Interested in the PUC's environmental review of utility projects?
- Looking for information on Electric and Magnet Fields (EMF)
SECOND: Build on Best Practices Research
Best Practices in Energy Efficiency
Best Practices Benchmarking for Energy Efficiency Programs
The most successful energy efficiency programs intentionally incorporate best practices from adult learning theory into outreach activities so all energy outreach messages are relevant and accessible to the adults that attend the classes provided.
Best practices in adult learning include:
- Offering information and experiences that show how to
solve real problems that occur in daily work life
- Providing opportunities during the training
for attendees to practice new skills and receive feedback
- Including small group activities and
concrete experiences rather than relying solely on expert lecture
- Providing limited or
focused content that does not overwhelm attendees.
These practices increase the likelihood that training and education (T&E) will result in behavior change.
Market transformation is a frequent driver for nonresidential T&E programs. These programs
are often key components of a market transformation strategy. They may take several forms.
For example, some have a broad focus, seeking to inform key energy efficiency constituencies
(for example contractors, engineers, and design professionals); others are more narrowly
defined as a component of a larger program.
Most T&E programs seek to overcome market
barriers related to lack of information, asymmetric information, and performance uncertainty.
In addition to educating key market actors on desired energy efficiency practices, training and education programs serve as
a vehicle for disseminating program information to the market and making market actors aware of program opportunities.
Training and Education
Training and education further the overall goal of achieving energy savings. Many of these
programs also support resource acquisition efforts by enhancing the skills, knowledge,
capabilities and understanding of market actors so that they can more effectively develop
energy savings projects with end users.
Effective Training and Education Programs
Effective T&E programs provide value to the target market specifically, not just the utility.
Training approaches and content can be enhanced by
- Market research
- Baseline studies
- Partnerships with professional organizations
- Early evaluation efforts to create training
programs that provide significant value to market actors.
Coordination with professional
organizations can qualify T&E courses for continuing education (CEU) credits, increasing the
appeal and value of the program.
Successful T&E programs
Successful T&E programs require a long-term commitment from implementing organizations.
The programs reviewed here all represent multi-year commitments to training for a sector, a
group of market actors or to a certification effort. The multi-year commitment is important in
building expertise among trainers, refining curriculum and leveraging word-of-mouth
communication. It can take years to build the program, the organizational capacity and the
program reputation to the point where the training effort is poised to influence a discernable
portion of the targeted market.
The Statewide training and education program, operating
primarily through the energy centers, is designed to collect, transfer, research, evaluate,
demonstrate, and showcase energy-efficiency concepts, technologies, and products.
Energy Design Resources (EDR)
Southern California Edison began EDR in 1998 as a stand alone
market transformation program to provide information and tools to encourage energy
efficiency design in non-residential new construction projects. It evolved to support the Savings by Design commercial new construction program by providing education about approaches to
participants and potential participants in the statewide program. EDR is an integrated package
of design tools and information resources, including publications, software tools, and training
offered statewide by 2000.
In 2002, EDR was fully incorporated into the Savings by Design
program. Over the years, the budget for EDR has decreased and the focus of the program has
been redefined. The current focus of the program is to encourage increased use of the existing
web-based tools and enhancement of those tools to meet the needs of the new construction
market. EDR's website averaged approximately 3,500 visits per month (a total of 41,498), and 34 trainees
completed EDR through on-line training courses. In 2005, average monthly website visits were
Internet Training and Education
Since the mid-1990s use of the Internet has exploded among all market segments, making it a
primary information source for homes and businesses and a major source of equipment and
efficiency information. With the expanded use of the Internet, information components of Training and Education
programs have shifted away from traditional printed sources to web-based sources.
and web portals provide new opportunities for combining information, on-line education, and
training, and marketing of other related energy efficiency programs.
Curriculum design, Training delivery, and Evaluation
Curriculum design, training delivery, and evaluation appear to be the program elements most
critical to training program success. Curriculum must be informed by adult learning theories
and activities structured to change behavior rather than simply transmit knowledge.
California’s Energy Design Resources (EDR)
EDR was originally a stand alone program embedded
in the Statewide Savings by Design program in 2004-2005 and became part of the broader statewide
education and training offerings at California IOUs in 2006-2008.
Savings by Design
Savings by Design offers a
variety of incentives to encourage “integrated energy design” in new commercial buildings by
bringing design teams together early in the process, obtaining owner commitment, and
providing the resources to assist these teams in designing high performance buildings. The
process of program participation “aligns the all-too-often conflicting objectives of developers,
financiers, architects, engineers, specialty consultants, building managers, leasing agents,
building operators, owners, and tenants to yield a positive outcome,”
While the goal of the larger Savings by Design
program is to produce superior, energy efficient buildings, the goal of the EDR component is to
support the program through accessible, relevant and technically accurate tools and
information, thus EDR tools are a critical piece of achieving the savings goals of Savings by
California’s Energy Center
California’s Statewide Education and Training Program is different from the other programs
considered here in that it encompasses training activities at multiple locations for a broad range
of service providers, designers, contractors and others.3 A glance at the lists of seminars offered
in 2006 demonstrates the diverse mix of T&E opportunities – ranging from HVAC and compressed air to skylighting and drip irrigation.
In California, the Energy Center training
efforts are described as a vehicle to “collect, transfer, research, evaluate, demonstrate, and
showcase energy efficiency concepts, technologies, and products for manufacturers, businesses,
researchers, educational institutions, and the general public,” making the Energy Center efforts
less focused than the other programs reviewed.
The Energy Center trainings are an important
part of the California utilities’ energy efficiency program efforts, addressing information-related
barriers by disseminating information about specific technologies and practices to the endusers,
trade allies and allied professionals. The program is not specifically designed to promote
incentives available through other programs. However, an evaluation of the 2002 Statewide
training program notes its effectiveness at reducing the barriers related to information costs,
performance uncertainty, and information asymmetry—resulting in improved ease of
participation in other nonresidential sector programs.
Training and Education BARRIERS
T&E programs (or T&E components of larger programs) commonly focus on overcoming or
reducing market barriers to energy efficiency adoption among targeted market actors.
Information costs and performance uncertainty are the barriers most frequently addressed.
Information costs are the costs (in time and resources) of learning about energy efficient
opportunities, products and services which are cost-effective to the end-user. Performance
uncertainty is most often associated with new technologies, and emerges from concerns over
whether the technology can deliver the claimed energy and cost savings. Performance
uncertainty is the reason contractors and their customers shy away from a new technology or
practice they haven’t seen before, due to doubts about performance claims and a desire to avoid
being the first to adopt the measure. T&E programs address these barriers by providing
accurate technical data and up-to-date information, as well as hands-on experience with the
new technology or practice.
Other barriers that can be addressed by T&E programs include information asymmetry,
organizational practices, bounded rationality, and service unavailability.
BARRIERS and RELATED ACTIVITIES
The habits upon which organizations and individuals rely when choosing what to install and
how to design space are deeply ingrained, often driven by knowledge or experience that may be
outdated. The barriers of a specific market can be complex.
The cost of acquiring new information is the barrier most directly addressed
by these programs. The programs address this barrier by providing
comprehensive and accurate, information to the targeted market actors in a
convenient, low-cost forum.
Offering technically accurate information about a given product or service
can help overcome some uncertainty, as can hands-on training or direct
experience with the product or application. Training can provide this
experience directly, also, training efforts tied to incentive programs often offer
an incentive for the first projects a trade ally completes – reflecting the logic
that increased experience will reduce uncertainty.
Product or Service
The impact of this barrier can be addressed through increasing the supply of
energy efficient products and services in the market. T&E activities can do
this by increasing the capability and willingness of existing market actors to
offer the desired services.
Bounded rationality refers to reliance on “rules of thumb” and other simplistic
decision making habits that can result in less than optimal decisions. T&E can
help to eliminate these habits by providing more sophisticated tools and
information to support better decision making when it comes to energy-using
This barrier is related to high information costs and performance
uncertainties. It refers specifically to the fact that the sellers of energyefficient
products or services tend to have better information than their
customers. Information asymmetry is best overcome by providing information
in accessible, reliable formats to as many market actors as possible.
Increasing the understanding of life-cycle costs and non-energy benefits can
potentially overcome barriers related to procurement practices, payback
requirements, and other organizational practices that inhibit the selection of
energy efficient products and services. Training programs that target O&M
staff, production floor staff, and purchasing staff are seeking to change
organizational practices related to facility maintenance, in order to
California Evaluation Framework notes that program theory
documents ideally include:
Integral to the development of an effective T&E program theory is a detailed understanding of
the underlying baseline market conditions.
- The educational or informational subjects on which the program will focus and the
efforts and activities to be undertaken;
- The specific education or information transfer methods and mechanisms that will be
employed in the implementation process (audits, workshops, training classes,
announcements, demonstrations, ads, etc.);
- The target market sectors, including, as appropriate, market segments or sub-segments
and the geographical market areas the program is designed to reach;
- Awareness, understanding, or knowledge of goals for target markets;
- The expected effects in terms of what the recipient is expected to do or accomplish as a
result of the information or education efforts;
- The timeframes in which the expected results are to be accomplished;
- The barriers that the information or education must overcome to be successful; and
- The educational goals they are planning to meet within their program’s market in terms
of end effects.
A detailed baseline study provides insight into the
current market capabilities and knowledge base, and help to flag where education is needed to
further advance the market.
For example, in Itron’s (as Quantum Consulting) 2003 Market
Baseline Study of the Wisconsin C&I HVAC Supply Market (Quantum Consulting, 2003),
further education of HVAC contractors was identified as an effective strategy to increase
efficiency adoption based on their role as key decision influencers.
Building Operator Certification
Broadly managed by a regional energy efficiency nonprofit responsible for
licensing the curriculum, tracking certifications, and approving trainers. Local
implementation staff may be housed at participating utilities or regional
nonprofits that provide the training opportunity across 20 states.
BOC is implemented by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC) in Washington State and in California.
The level of staff required varies by region or by state, but typically at least
two people are required to manage and plan the BOC training program: an administrator and
an on-site coordinator. NEEC continues to be involved in curriculum licensing, certification
tracking, and instructor selection for all licensees. BOC is implemented by regional nonprofits in
several areas of the country, including the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP)
and the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA).
The Industrial Efficiency Alliance is run by NEEA through prime subcontractor ECOS
Consulting. The training director is housed at ECOS. The program has a somewhat complicated
management structure since there are directors for each market segment and for each of the
critical systems (motors, pumps, compressed air, and refrigeration). Contacts report NEEA
deliberately set up this complex structure because it knew that transforming the market for the
targeted sectors would require trainers with credibility and existing relationships, who can
leverage these relationships to make direct contact with an organization tied to their industry.
Building Operator Certification
Number of students, courses taught, professional and
educational organizations endorsing or collaborating with
program, number of certifications, status of continuing
To develop the curriculum for BOC, NEEC convened a committee of building operations
professionals, training professionals, utility or energy program experts, and representatives
from energy efficiency nonprofits or government organizations. The process took about two
years to complete. Subject matter specialists created specific modules and reviewed the content,
while a specialist in adult education worked to refine the curriculum.
The curriculum was
tested and refined and after about four years of use, was finalized and licensed.
impart the relevance of the BOC curriculum to attendees, the program also includes an infacility
project assignment which participants complete following the classroom training. The
assignment engages participants in the direct application of information and concepts presented
in the training to their facility. Project assignments are a required aspect of the BOC credential
and include energy benchmarking activities, an HVAC systems review, and a lighting survey.
At NEEA, IEA trainers are selected based on education and training credentials. All of the
trainers used by NEEA have earned either PhDs or are DOE-certified trainers. The program’s
technical director conducts the shop floor level trainings. Trainers are required to be open to
feedback and engaging to attendees.
Curriculum Development and Content Delivery
Defining and targeting desired behavioral outcomes results in more powerful program
- Provide relevant, credible information to attendees.
- When possible, link training content to required professional continuing education
- Employ technical experts for development of technical training content.
- Employ curriculum experts to work with content experts to assure that the information
is presented in an effective format for learning.
- Train the trainers to improve the quality and consistency of trainings
California Best Practices Project Advisory Committee
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
P.O. Box 770000, N6G
San Francisco, CA 94177
Prime Contractor, Itron, Oakland, CA 94607
Best Practices Study Contract Manager
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
P.O. Box 770000, N6G
San Francisco, CA 94177
Jennifer Fagan and Mike Rufo
Best Practices Study Prime Contractor Leads
1111 Broadway, Suite 1800
Oakland, CA 94607
Jane S. Peters, Ph. D. and Dulane Moran
NRET Nonresidential Education and Training Chapter Leads
Research Into Action Inc.
P.O. Box 12312
Portland, OR 97212
ACEEE, ESource, CEE, EPA’s Energy Star program, NRDC, CEC Commissioner Art Rosenfeld, and California’s PIER and Climate Change Action Registry programs.
IOUs as well as non-IOUs will continue to play a role in delivering energy efficiency services to customers as program implementers. They differ significantly, however, with respect to the future role of IOUs in performing two key administrative functions:
- Program Choice
- Portfolio Management
Program Choice involves the selection of activities and implementers for the portfolio of energy efficiency programs, and the allocation of ratepayer dollars to those activities for each funding cycle. Portfolio Management involves the day-to-day tasks associated with general administration and coordination of those ratepayer-funded programs between funding cycles. For example, at the beginning of each funding cycle, the entity responsible for program choice will select among:
The decision is made how best to allocate authorized funding levels across those activities. Program choice also involves decisions over what combination of IOU and non-IOU implementers will receive program funds to offer and deliver the energy efficiency services to customers.
- commercial lighting programs,
- programs to weatherize and upgrade appliances in single- and multi-family residences,
- programs to educate builders and designers of new construction projects,
- and many others
And that is where the opportunity is for outside training companies.
Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions