Making Combined Natural Gas and Electric Energy Efficiency Successful

Aug 28, 2014

ACEEE recognizes ComEd, Nicor Gas, North Shore and Peoples Gas’ exemplary performance

 

Congratulations to ComEd, Nicor Gas, North Shore and Peoples Gas! Over the past three years these utilities have collaborated and partnered to deliver a cost-effective and successful joint-utility energy efficiency program, as well as an exceptional experience for their shared customers — and their success is being recognized.

A recent report published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) – “Successful Practices in Combined Gas and Electric Utility Energy Efficiency Programs” – presented ComEd’s Smart Ideas for Your Business Retro-Commissioning program as exemplary. Exemplary because it demonstrates a combined natural gas and electric energy efficiency program that successfully coordinates a partnership between single-fuel utilities.

In 2012, (the fourth year of the program) ComEd and Nexant (the joint program implementation contractor) worked with the three natural gas utilities in the area to expand the program to include natural gas savings. ComEd paid the upfront costs for investigating gas savings and the gas utilities reimbursed ComEd based on verified savings at the end of the program year. To date, this program implementation has saved more than 112 GWh and 2.8 million therms in gross savings. The ACEEE report identified the Retro-Commissioning program as a model that can be emulated to overcome the challenges surrounding combined programs. 

Those who have attempted this type of partnership know that potential challenges are significant and that such collaborations have difficulty achieving success. The challenges faced by single-fuel utilities looking to partner vary from cross-fuel competition, coordination and collaboration, as well as policy and regulatory concerns over accounting and attribution. The design and implementation for this retro-commissioning program helped the partnering utilities facilitate open and frequent communication, established a fair cost-share across utilities, provided a network of highly qualified local service providers, enabled transparent tracking and reporting, and provided assistance in helping the partnership balance goals, budgets, and objectives.

With this kind of exemplary performance, these utilities demonstrated how it’s possible to achieve energy savings while increasing customer satisfaction! The full ACEEE report can be found at http://aceee.org/research-report/u1406