How Can Energy Service Companies And Utilities Partner More Closely To Boost Systems-Level Efficiency?

Utilities face increasingly ambitious energy efficiency and pollution reduction targets or goals. In many cases, meeting these targets will require moving beyond traditional efficiency programs – such as providing rebates for upgrading specific equipment – and instead carrying out programs that focus on broader building systems. While energy service companies (ESCOs) have broad experience in delivering these types of systems-level energy efficiency solutions, utilities rarely partner with them on projects. What prevents utilities and ESCOs from closer collaboration? The Alliance will tackle this question by convening utility and ESCO stakeholders in a series of roundtables in 2019, to help find ways to align policies, programs and incentives that will facilitate a symbiotic partnership between these two large and influential efficiency stakeholders.

There is a strong case for increased ESCO-utility collaboration. While component-based efficiency measures are still important for energy savings, systems-level measures are necessary to achieve greater levels of efficiency. ESCOs have decades of experience applying a “systems approach” to building retrofits, which considers the interactions of components within and among various building systems (e.g., HVAC, lighting), as well as interactions among multiple buildings, and between the building and the electric grid. From building system retrofits to integration of renewable energy and energy storage, ESCO projects run the gamut of energy-saving solutions. There is opportunity for ESCOs to lend their systems-level knowledge and expertise in closer partnership with utilities and, in return, to benefit from the utilities’ access to building and grid energy data and their unique relationships with customers, including those in energy assistance programs and underserved markets.

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