RTF Quarterly Newsletter: Quarter No. 47 January-March 2022

2022 marks the start of a fresh term for a new class of RTF members. We were excited to welcome the new group with a member orientation in January, which laid the groundwork for being a successful RTF member and hopefully got them excited for their role. Since then, the new cohort has stepped into their membership seamlessly and have already gotten so much accomplished in this first quarter. They approved a new type of work product for the RTF, a guidance document, updated their first UES’s and Standard Protocols, and adopted a new measure. They also saw the adoption of a new power plan, and have started the process of seeing through the changes and recommendations a new Plan brings. We’re feeling very lucky to have this new group with us as we look forward to the rest of the year which will bring more measure work, more Plan prompted updates, and maybe even an in person meeting or two. You can stay up to date on all RTF decision and news as it happens through the RTF website which is updated throughout the quarter.

Residential Connected Thermostats

At their March meeting the RTF updated the Residential Connected Thermostat UES measure with new evaluation data, making minor specification updates including differentiating some measure identifiers for delivery channel and building type, adding a gas heating measure application, updating cost data, and updating lifetimes.

There is still significant uncertainty around the electric savings. This measure would be greatly improved by more understanding around how savings change by climate zone, how savings in electric furnace homes compare to gas furnace homes and how much savings can be achieved in ASHP homes, specifically how that might change based on delivery and other program activity. The research strategy adopted with this measure update focuses on collecting more evaluations, with careful considerations around the comparison groups used. The research strategy also recognizes that improving estimates for cooling and multifamily housing are likely challenging and therefore doesn’t focus on those pieces at this time.

New Home Standard Protocol

The New Home Standard Protocol was brought to the RTF in February for review. The Group primarily updated baseline assumptions to align with new codes and current practice assumptions. The measures encompassed by this protocol are current practice and so their baseline represents the code/standard or the market average, whichever is more efficient. All four states in the region have new energy codes since this measure's last update. Analysts used these updates as a starting point for analysis and worked with the new homes subcommittee to fold these policy changes into the baseline. The RTF also updated UES assumptions to align with the most recent RTF decisions on those component parts. These include refrigerators, clothes washers, clothes dryers, heat pump water heaters and gas water heating.

The RTF is waiting on an Energy Trust of Oregon evaluation to inform updates to the REMRate adjustment factor used to align modeling results with real world savings. That adjustment factor was not addressed with this update, but is a significant source of uncertainty.

The 2021 Power Plan: Findings and CE methodology

At their February 2022 meeting the Council voted to approve the 2021 Northwest Power Plan. This culmination of years of work by staff, Council members, and many participants from around the region reveals very different results than we have seen in Plans past. Since the plan was approved, the RTF has been having discussions about what the new Plan tells us about energy efficiency and how these findings will affect the RTF’s work going forward. Starting with a larger discussion of energy efficiency cost effectiveness criteria from the 2021 Power Plan

It is the RTF’s role to maintain a portfolio of energy efficiency measures consistent with the Council’s Plan. This means making updates to remain consistent when a new Plan is adopted. Since the 2021 Plan’s adoption, contract analysts have updated the RTF’s cost-effectiveness tool, ProCost, with the new 2021 Plan methodology and assumptions. The RTF also converted all UES workbooks to a new measure template and ran ProCost to update cost-effectiveness assumptions consistent with 2021 Plan findings. This quarter, analysts gave the RTF an overview and demonstration of the new ProCost engine and measure assessment template. Those interested can find that presentation here.

Commercial Unitary Heat Pump Water Heaters

At their March meeting, the RTF approved a new UES for Commercial Unitary Heat Pump Water Heaters. The measure requires installing an ENERGY STAR certified HPWH with an integrated tank to serve a commercial space. It applies to both existing and new construction, provided a HPWH is not mandated by local code. At this time there is only one such unit available on the market today, though there are likely more to come.  

This is the second measure the RTF has developed concerning commercial use of heat pump water heaters, the first was a separate measure for residentially sized HPWHs in commercial spaces. There are future plans to develop a measure for larger commercial split/built-up system. In all cases, there is savings uncertainty due to variations in water heating technology, water usage patterns, and distribution losses.

Residential Behavior Guidance Document

At the RTFs February meeting the group approved a new guidance document on evaluated energy savings for residential behavior home energy reports, with a review date of February 2025. This document is a new kind of RTF work product intended to supplement the RTF Guidelines by providing guidance specifically relevant to the evaluated program-level savings, costs, benefits, and lifetime of measures implemented by Residential Behavior Home Energy Report (HER) programs. This guidance is not intended to prescribe methods for developing savings estimates used in program tracking, messaging, or contracting. These programs are defined as programs centered around the delivery of feedback regarding a household's energy consumption, frequently compared to a 'similar' or 'neighboring' household. They are designed to provide regular information to participating customers in order to affect their relationship to energy used by their household.

Upcoming at the RTF: 

  • April 
    • Line Voltage Themostats
    • Residential HPWHs
  • May
    • Manufactured Home Replacement
    • Compressed Air Standard Protocol
    • Irrigation Pressure Reduction
  • Beyond
    • Floating Pressure Controls for Mulitplex Systems
    • Updated Climate Zone Mapping
    • SF Duct Sealing

Subcommittee Roundup:

  • R&E Subcommittee: The Research & Evaluation Subcommittee met discus a revised research strategy for residential connected thermostats
  • New Homes Standard Protocol Subcommittee: The New Homes Standard Protocol Subcommittee met twice this quarter to discuss pending updates to the new homes protocol. The first was focused on code updates and the second meeting later in the month was about the measure adjustment factor.
  • Residential Behavior Subcommittee: The Residential Behavior Subcommittee met to review and discuss a draft of the “Guidance on Evaluated Energy Savings for Residential Home Energy Reports” before it was shared with the RTF.
  • Agricultural Irrigation Subcommittee: The Irrigation Subcommittee met to discuss the viability of adding pressure reduction savings to the irrigation system upgrades measure.
  • Small and Rural Utilities Subcommittee: The Small/Rural Subcommittee meets once a quarter to discuss how to support the specific needs of small and rural utilities. At this quarter’s meeting the group reviewed staff’s UES scoping efforts and set priorities for the year.
  • Operations Subcommittee: The Operations subcommittee meets before each RTF meeting to review and discuss the RTF meeting agendas, decisions, and contracts.

Approved Measure Updates: