Financial Analysis of Incentive Mechanisms to Promote Energy Efficiency: Case Study of a Prototypical Southwest Utility

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Many state regulatory commissions and policymakers want utilities to aggressively pursue energy efficiency as a strategy to mitigate demand and energy growth, diversify the resource mix, and provide an alternative to building new, costly generation. However, as the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (NAPEE 2007) points out, many utilities continue to shy away from aggressively expanding their energy efficiency efforts when their shareholder's fundamental financial interests are placed at risk by doing so. Thus, there is increased interest in developing effective ratemaking and policy approaches that address utility disincentives to pursue energy efficiency or lack of incentives for more ... continued below

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Cappers, Peter; Goldman, Charles; Chait, Michele; Edgar, George; Schlegel, Jeff & Shirley, Wayne March 4, 2009.

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Many state regulatory commissions and policymakers want utilities to aggressively pursue energy efficiency as a strategy to mitigate demand and energy growth, diversify the resource mix, and provide an alternative to building new, costly generation. However, as the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (NAPEE 2007) points out, many utilities continue to shy away from aggressively expanding their energy efficiency efforts when their shareholder's fundamental financial interests are placed at risk by doing so. Thus, there is increased interest in developing effective ratemaking and policy approaches that address utility disincentives to pursue energy efficiency or lack of incentives for more aggressive energy efficiency efforts. New regulatory initiatives to promote increased utility energy efficiency efforts also affect the interests of consumers. Ratepayers and their advocates are concerned with issues of fairness, impacts on rates, and total consumer costs. From the perspective of energy efficiency advocates, the quid pro quo for utility shareholder incentives is the obligation to acquire all, or nearly all, achievable cost-effective energy efficiency. A key issue for state regulators and policymakers is how to maximize the cost-effective energy efficiency savings attained while achieving an equitable sharing of benefits, costs and risks among the various stakeholders. In this study, we modeled a prototypical vertically-integrated electric investor-owned utility in the southwestern US that is considering implementing several energy efficiency portfolios. We analyze the impact of these energy efficiency portfolios on utility shareholders and ratepayers as well as the incremental effect on each party when lost fixed cost recovery and/or utility shareholder incentive mechanisms are implemented. A primary goal of our quantitative modeling is to provide regulators and policymakers with an analytic framework and tools that assess the financial impacts of alternative incentive approaches on utility shareholders and customers if energy efficiency is implemented under various utility operating, cost, and supply conditions.We used and adapted a spreadsheet-based financial model (the Benefits Calculator) which was developed originally as a tool to support the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (NAPEE). The major steps in our analysis are displayed graphically in Figure ES- 1. Two main inputs are required: (1) characterization of the utility which includes its initial financial and physical market position, a forecast of the utility?s future sales, peak demand, and resource strategy to meet projected growth; and (2) characterization of the Demand-Side Resource (DSR) portfolio ? projected electricity and demand savings, costs and economic lifetime of a portfolio of energy efficiency (and/or demand response) programs that the utility is planning or considering implementing during the analysis period. The Benefits Calculator also estimates total resource costs and benefits of the DSR portfolio using a forecast of avoided capacity and energy costs. The Benefits Calculator then uses inputs provided in the Utility Characterization to produce a ?business-as usual? base case as well as alternative scenarios that include energy efficiency resources, including the corresponding utility financial budgets required in each case. If a decoupling and/or a shareholder incentive mechanism are instituted, the Benefits Calculator model readjusts the utility?s revenue requirement and retail rates accordingly. Finally, for each scenario, the Benefits Calculator produces several metrics that provides insights on how energy efficiency resources, decoupling and/or a shareholder incentive mechanism impacts utility shareholders (e.g. overall earnings, return on equity), ratepayers (e.g., average customer bills and rates) and society (e.g. net resource benefits).

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  • Report No.: LBNL-1598E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • DOI: 10.2172/949969 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 949969
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc927066

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  • March 4, 2009

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Jan. 4, 2017, 5:50 p.m.

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Cappers, Peter; Goldman, Charles; Chait, Michele; Edgar, George; Schlegel, Jeff & Shirley, Wayne. Financial Analysis of Incentive Mechanisms to Promote Energy Efficiency: Case Study of a Prototypical Southwest Utility, report, March 4, 2009; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc927066/: accessed July 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.