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Case Study

How can you use advanced evaluation planning to create new programs that tackle carbon reduction?


  • Evaluation Planning
  • Pilot Programs


1. Developed an innovative evaluation approach for a new program design focused on carbon reduction

2. Advanced evaluation planning, helping to gain approval for a new pilot program model

3. Fostered close collaboration with client to craft a plan that meets evaluation needs while imposing the smallest possible burden on participants

About the Client

As one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, our client delivers power to 15 million people in the western US. Long a leader in energy efficiency, the company is looking ahead to create a 21st century power network that can handle their state’s changing energy needs.

The Situation

The company is working with large university campuses to test a four-year pay-for-performance greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions reduction pilot. This type of pilot program is entirely new in the industry. Most programs in the industry are targeted toward energy efficiency, distributed generation, or demand response, reducing energy consumption or increasing renewable production through some specific form or method. The proposed pilot would develop an up-front customer agreement to provide incentives to participating customers that demonstrate annual GHG reduction at the campus-level meter (i.e., the master meter).

Most importantly, in this pilot, customers would define the mix of GHG reduction approaches that best meet their needs and constraints. This key program innovation—the ability to choose any effective approach rather than selecting from approaches defined by programs—would serve to reduce the barriers and allow participants to experiment with new approaches. And by focusing on metered reduction without a need to fill out applications at a measure level, the design reduces complications in participation in what had become a paperwork-heavy endeavor.

What our client needed was a partner to help them do something else new—determine how they would evaluate this kind of pilot, before they even filed it; the utility would provide both the pilot program and the proposed evaluation plan in their filing to their public utility commission.

Our Approach

Our guiding principle in designing this evaluation was to match the spirit of the pilot design itself. The pilot design is about creating simplicity, by removing additional burdens on the program participant. We took a holistic approach, looking for evaluation criteria that were based on reductions of metered energy consumption.

Given that our client expects to adjust pilot implementation iteratively to meet customer needs as well as their own needs, the evaluation would use a developmental process evaluation approach in addition to identifying and measuring performance and GHG emission reductions. Evaluation objectives for the pilot include:

  • Quantification of GHG Emissions Reductions: To estimate the GHG emissions reductions and other associated benefits/impacts directly achieved through the pilot using campus-level meter data analysis.
  • Developmental Process Evaluation: To understand how the pilot and its incentives both affect participant decision-making and accelerate on-site GHG emissions reductions through stakeholder meetings, interviews, and working sessions; and to consider implications for a future full-scale customer-centric, meter-based program design for commercial, industrial, and residential customers.
  • Verification of Incentive Calculations: To ensure data matching and algorithms are carried out correctly through campus-level meter analysis.

The pilot evaluation plan would run for the duration of the pilot and result in a set of interim deliverables and findings, along with a set of reports at various intervals and depth over the course of the pilot, culminating in a final evaluation report final year of the pilot is complete.

The Result

Our client has found the evaluation plan portion to be a key feature in their plan—something that has allowed them to set the stage for a successful rollout by demonstrated to regulators how they have thought through each and every need to make the pilot work properly.

Interested in learning more?

Contact us to talk with a team member.

(206) 621-1160

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