The Promise of Advanced M&V: Game-changing Benefits for Energy Efficiency

The Promise of Advanced M&V: Game-changing Benefits for Energy Efficiency
March 20, 2017 Tim Guiterman
RMI M&V 2.0

This week the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) released a much-anticipated white paper titled The Status and Promise of Advanced M&V: An Overview of “M&V 2.0” Methods, Tools, and Applications. With advanced M&V gaining traction, the paper describes the specific benefits the technology provides to evaluators, program administrators, regulators, grid operators and others, including providing more timely feedback on program performance, speeding up the evaluation process, more accurately predicting demands on the grid, and improving the accuracy of evaluation results.

This paper stems from the authors’ participation in the M&V 2.0 project team at Rocky Mountain Institute’s 2016 e-Lab Accelerator, and as one of the participants, I’m especially proud of this paper for a few key reasons. First, the team members each represent unique perspectives including efficiency program administration, evaluation consulting, software development, and academia, making the resulting white paper relevant, comprehensive, and immediately applicable.

Second, the paper appropriately narrows the focus to two key features of M&V 2.0: (1) automated analytics that can provide ongoing, near-real time savings estimates, and (2) increased data granularity in terms of frequency, volume, or end-use detail. Finally, the paper clearly illustrates the potential benefits to various stakeholders while acknowledging critical challenges and opportunities for industry collaboration to address these issues.

One of the key takeaways from this paper is the recognition of multiple value streams from applying continuous measurement to energy savings. The paper states that the application of M&V 2.0 technologies “…offers the dual promise of accelerating evaluation processes and providing more detailed evaluation and implementation feedback” (emphasis added). This reflects the official direction that regulators in states like New York, California, and Maryland have already embraced. For example, the New York Department of Public Service issued revised EM&V Guidance in late 2016, and dedicated an entire section to “Advanced M&V” (their term for M&V 2.0). The guidance (1) encourages program administrators and evaluators to use advanced M&V techniques, (2) allows for the costs of these systems to be shared between implementation and evaluation budgets, and (3) acknowledges that administrators “…may be able to extend program EM&V cycles and rely on the advanced M&V tools to provide interim impact results.”

EnergySavvy has long championed this fact, and have developed our solutions to meet these binary purposes. We apply the same underlying analytic engine to software that enhances, supports, and accelerates evaluation processes (we call this M&V 2.0), as well as to software that continuously improves energy efficiency programs and offerings through contractor management, QA/QC targeting, and ongoing performance monitoring (we call this Program Optimization).

Benefits to the Evaluation Community

The paper cites specific benefits of M&V 2.0 to both evaluators and utility EM&V staff, including the ability to provide early indicators of savings as well as “… a more comprehensive understanding of measure impacts or reasons for savings shortfalls.” The paper states that “continuous understanding of program performance can inform evaluation planning, process research, and allocations of scope and budget. Both earlier and deeper feedback (e.g., slicing results by building type, climate zone, substation, installation contractor, measures installed, etc.) would increase the value of evaluation to PAs and their regulators. By automating and, in some cases, accelerating the execution of evaluation, evaluators can also benefit from cost savings.”

Benefits to Program Administrators/Managers
The RMI paper also points out that program administrators (PAs), including utilities, can use early feedback from advanced M&V tools, like EnergySavvy’s Program Optimization software, “… to adjust program designs and budgets more quickly.” The paper goes on to report that, “among the most important potential benefits of early feedback to PAs are enhanced program targeting (for example, by identifying which types of customers appear to be achieving better measure performance), making adjustments to measure mix (for example, by identifying specific measures that are under- or overperforming), and understanding the effectiveness of specific program implementers and pilot initiatives. Moreover, ongoing program feedback can be communicated internally to management and externally to implementers in the form of “performance dashboards” that can be updated in near-real time.”

Benefits to Regulators
Regulators are often consumers of evaluation reports and rely heavily on EM&V to determine if savings targets are achieved. The RMI paper recognizes that M&V 2.0 adds value for those who oversee utility programs and ensure ratepayer dollars are spent prudently. According to the paper, M&V 2.0 holds the potential to “increase the detail by customer group, reduce evaluation costs, or improve the credibility of the results.” Furthermore, the benefits of “early feedback on program implementation to correct problems at the project or program level”, are of the utmost importance for regulators because it ensures that customers are getting the full value of energy efficiency projects.

Benefits to Grid Planners
For grid operators, energy efficiency has often been a challenging resource to count and rely upon. According to the paper, as utilities call upon DER’s to support the distribution grid, accurate “locational and temporal confirmation of energy efficiency” is a critical tool to deploy energy efficiency as a reliable and replicable DER. RMI goes on to say that M&V 2.0 can not only help grid planners “target and deliver,” energy savings, but also provide valuable information to predict short-term demand and collect specific savings data. Additionally, as utilities embark on non-wires alternative projects to address “congestion zones and resiliency issues, interval-level targeting and evaluation represent an important value stream for automated analytics.”

Read the Paper

Applications of advanced M&V will help further energy efficiency’s role as a reliable grid resource, and as stated in the paper, “these efforts hold great promise for facilitating deeper energy efficiency savings through better customer engagement, program optimization, and potentially increased accuracy and certainty in savings determination.” Here at EnergySavvy, we are excited to see RMI acknowledge and document the powerful capabilities and promising potential of M&V 2.0.

Download the white paper by the Rocky Mountain Institute to glean the takeaways that are most relevant to your world.