RTF Quarterly Newsletter: Quarter No. 36 April-June 2019

  • August 02, 2019

The RTF never rests, as with every quarter, the second quarter of 2019 was busy and productive. The new class of members, who started their terms at the beginning of this year, have really hit their stride over the three meetings held this quarter, all of which were constructive and well attended.  Since April, much of the RTF’s time has been devoted to calibrating the residential building model, SEEM, which is work that will continue into the third quarter.  In addition to SEEM calibration, the RTF has wrapped up its demand response work for the year, adopted a new UES measure, and finished some commercial whole building work to name some highlights.  You can stay up to date all on RTF decisions and news as it happens on the RTF website which is updated throughout the quarter.  

Wrapped up DR Technology Exploration

The RTF continued its exploration of a potential role in supporting the region's demand response (DR) work.  As a first step, they focused on developing per unit savings estimates for six specific DR technologies.  In the second quarter of 2019, the RTF wrapped up the three remaining technologies, irrigation pump controls, residential water heaters, and refrigeration warehouse controls. The goal was to finish this technical DR work in the first half of the year so that there would be time when developing the next year's work plan to determine how DR will fit in to the RTF’s future work load.

In May, the RTF examined DR for Irrigation Pump Controls.  As with previous technologies, this analysis focused on the per unit technical potential of a one-hour event. Specifically for irrigation pump controls, an event would involve shutting down irrigation pumps for that hour and would typically be implemented through an automatic signal by a power line carrier or cellular network. This analysis was approved by the RTF and passed on to Council staff to aid development of supply curves for the 2021 Power Plan.

In June, the RTF addressed the final two DR technologies, Residential Water Heaters and Refrigeration Warehouse Controls. Refrigerated warehouses are an especially great candidate for DR because of their large loads and the flexibility enabled by thermal capacitance and product temperature tolerances. Because of this ease, where DR incentives are available, refrigerated warehouses typically participate in programs. However, the DR potential is very site-specific so the contract analysts had to rely on existing case studies and modeling efforts to estimate typical potential per site as a function of refrigerated space or tons of refrigeration. For residential water heaters the DR impacts represent the amount of input water heating electricity that is eliminated or deferred until after an event is complete. Contract analysts calculated the maximum obtainable per-household impacts from residential water heaters during a DR event, without considering program design and characteristics. Since water heaters do not run 24/7 under any realistic scenario, the impact estimates approved by the RTF include the influence of run times and water draw profiles.

These last two presentations conclude this year’s work on DR. With these six technologies, the RTF was exploring its potential role in supporting the region in DR and the potential for DR to be included in the RTF’s scope of work in future years.

Next 5-year funding cycle (2020-2024)

In this quarter the RTF started the process of developing the next 5-year funding cycle for 2020-2024.  RTF staff is currently working with the RTF Policy Advisory Committee on a draft 2020-2024 work plan and business plan. This draft budget will preserve the main components of prior budgets for things like maintenance of existing measures, development of new measure, enhancement of analytical tools, the annual Regional Conservation Progress survey and report, as well as RTF staffing and management. Staff is proposing to also expand the scope to include the addition of natural gas analysis for existing dual fuel and new gas only measures, as well as technical analysis of DR technologies.    

SEEM Calibration

Last quarter the RTF started the process of calibrating the SEEM housing model. This quarter, the work continued, starting at the April RTF meeting with a proposal to account for the multiple unknowns in RBSA II.  The contract analysts proposed that for houses with unknown factors, such as wall insulation levels, they will develop a set of likely scenarios and a probability for each scenario, which will then be run through a Monte Carlo analysis to inform the calibration.  

SEEM calibration was raised at the May RTF meeting as well, this presentation focused on integrating RBSA I Data into the calibration. Significant segments of RBSA I data contain unknown unknowns. To avoid potential bias from unknowns the CAT recommended testing to see if keeping the data provides bias, and if not deleting this group of data from the analysis. This discussion also touched on determining scenarios and probabilities for the Monte Carlo approach decided on at the last meeting.

Finally, in June, contract analysts presented the draft Monte Carlo scenarios that were complete as well as the draft SEEM runs for most RBSA II homes while they still had to finalize SEEM runs, run automated regressions and generate calibration factors. 

This SEEM calibration has been a lot of work for the RTF, and the contract analysts have relied on numerous subcommittee meetings between RTF meetings to guide their work.  The calibration continues into the third quarter and should be completed by August so that the RTF can get started applying the newly calibrated model to relevant measures such as weatherization and ductless heat pumps.  

Whole Building White Paper

Starting last year, the RTF has turned their focus to whole building energy efficiency. As energy efficiency programs seek deeper savings, they are exploring approaches that focus on the energy use of the building as a whole, rather than taking an end use by end use approach.  This has been an on-going project that was progressed this quarter when RTF Contract Analyst Josh Rushton presented a white paper he co-authored with Bill Koran, SBW, titled: “Reliability of Energy Savings Estimates Based on Commercial Whole Building Data.” The focus of the paper was on publicly available temperature and schedule models applied to commercial whole building data.  Findings centered around reliability of modeling tools uncertainty, non-routine events, and automated methods. The RTF voted to approve these findings and recommendations. Going forward, staff will continue to engage with efforts to develop non-routine event guidance, research coordination, and will revisit findings and recommendations in a few years.

New UES: EV Chargers

The RTF approved an Electric Vehicle Batter Chargers UES as a small saver after approving an EV demand response potential last quarter.  The measure specification is an ENERGY STAR Level 2 charger and assumes a consumer is already in the market for a charger. The baseline is a current practice mix of level 2 chargers and the savings are 5-40 kWh, depending on networking.  This is a new market and many things could change in the coming years, which is why the sunset date is relatively short for a small saver. But, with the information available now, there is significant uncertainty in charging practices, steady state charger efficiencies, and market shares. 

Subcommittee Roundup

Research and Evaluation: The Research and Evaluation Subcommittee convenes on a need basis to discuss the development of RTF Research Strategies and the framing and utility of ongoing research in the region. In Q2 of 2019, the subcommittee met to discuss a research strategy for the Residential Electronic Thermostat UES that was adopted at a prior RTF meeting.

SEEM Calibration and Measure Interaction Subcommittee: The SEEM Calibration subcommittee met four times in the second quarter. The first meeting focused on how to handle uncertainty in the input mapping and overall calibration process and the following meeting finalized decisions on mapping RBSA II data to SEEM inputs. In the third meeting the subcommittee reviewed the proposed approach for developing case values and probabilities for each unknown parameter needed for SEEM and in the final meeting of the quarter the group reviewed some initial calibration findings.  

Demand Response Subcommittee: The Demand Response Subcommittee met three times in the second quarter, to discuss the three remaining demand response technologies coming before the RTF in 2019: Warehouse Refrigeration Controls, Hot Water Heaters, and Irrigation Pump Controls.

Implementers Group: The Implementers Group meets after each RTF meeting to discuss the outcome of the RTF meeting, upcoming RTF meeting topics, and other topics that affect program implementers in the region.

Operations Subcommittee: The Operations subcommittee meets before each RTF meeting to review and discuss the RTF meeting agendas, decisions, and contracts.

EV Chargers Subcommittee: The Electric Vehicle Chargers subcommittee met before the May RTF meeting to discuss enhancements and potential additions to the Residential Level 2 AC Electric Chargers UES measure before it was brought before the whole RTF for adoption.

Whole Building Subcommittee: The Whole Building Subcommittee was convened in May to discuss findings and receive feedback on staff generated whole building white paper.

Small and Rural Utilities Subcommittee: The Small/Rural Subcommittee maintains a dedicated function within the RTF to support the specific needs of small and rural utilities. This quarter’s meeting was held in person at the Efficiency Exchange conference.  The group discussed measures they were interested in prioritizing at the RTF and how they wanted to focus their budget for the year.

Market Analysis Subcommittee: The Market Analysis Subcommittee was created to discuss ongoing market analysis being conducted in the region, as well as to provide review of said research. The subcommittee met three times in Q2, once to discuss NEEA’s residential lighting market model, once to review BPA’s residential HVAC market model and again to review BPA’s residential hot water market model.

Agricultural Irrigation Subcommittee: The Agricultural Irrigation subcommittee was created in light of updates to the Irrigation Hardware Maintenance and Upgrades UES measure that was adopted at the March 2018 RTF meeting in order to build a better understanding of these updates and hear from stakeholders and utilities how they run their programs.

Approved Measure Changes

In addition to the items highlighted above, the second quarter of 2019 the RTF voted to approve the following changes to UES measures and Standard Protocols: