Much of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions involves fairly complicated and advanced technologies. Whether it’s solar panels, batteries, flywheels, or fuel cells, these technologies have typically required public support to bring them to scale at a reasonable price, along with significant regulatory or legal reforms to accommodate these new ways of doing old things, […]
To recommend policies to boost this capital market financing for energy retrofits, UC Berkeley and UCLA Law are today releasing a new report “Powering the Savings:How California Can Tap the Energy Efficiency Potential in Existing Commercial Buildings.” The report is the 17th in the two law schools’ Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, generously supported by Bank of America since 2009.
The report describes ways that California could unlock more private investment in energy efficiency retrofits, particularly in commercial buildings. This financing will flow if there’s a predictable, long-term, measured and verified amount of savings that can be directly traced to energy efficiency measures. New software and methodologies can now more accurately perform this task. They establish a building’s energy performance baseline, calibrating for a variety of factors, such as weather, building use, and occupancy changes. That calibrated or “dynamic” baseline can then form the basis for calculating the energy savings that occur due specifically to efficiency improvements.
But the state currently lacks a uniform, state-sanctioned methodology and technology standard, so utilities are reluctant to base efficiency incentives or programs without regulatory approval to use these new methods. The report therefore recommends that energy regulators encourage utilities to develop aggressive projects based on these emerging metering technologies that can ultimately inform a standard measurement process and catalyze “pay-for-performance” energy efficiency financing, with utilities able to procure energy efficiency savings just like they were a traditional generation resource. […]