RTF Quarterly Newsletter: Quarter No. 37 July-September 2019

  • November 20, 2019

The RTF crossed the mid-way point of the year with a bang. The third quarter of 2019 saw the conclusion of a number of important projects carrying through from earlier quarters and set the RTF up to finish out the year strong. Starting with the conclusion of SEEM calibration, a project that staff kicked off early this year, preparing the group to spend the remainder of 2019 updating related measures that rely on SEEM for estimating savings. This quarter also saw the completion of the annual Regional Conservation Progress Report and the approval of the 2020 Work Plan and Charter which laid out some changes for RTF work in the coming funding cycle. The RTF also made some updates to some regionally important UES measures, chief among them Residential Lighting and Single-Family Weatherization. The new class of RTF members has remained engaged and excited through their first year and meetings are always lively and well attended. Decisions, news and updates are posted on the RTF website as they happen, so you can stay up to date on all things RTF throughout the quarter.

Residential Lighting Update

Anytime the RTF updates one of their lighting measures it generates a lot of regional interest as they have historically been a large source of savings. This September’s update to the Residential Lighting UES measure was no exception.  In light of the upcoming 2020 standard, there was even more to discuss that normal. There have been several changes at the Federal level resulting in uncertainty around the future of the standard. Despite this uncertainty, the RTF policy  is always to use whatever is final on the books, and to not make any assumptions around what will happen. Therefore, the measure adopted by the RTF incorporates the 2020 standard for general service lamps of 45 lm/W, as well as a separate measure identifier for Washington to reflect their specific standard that also covers specialty bulbs. As a part of this update the RTF also adopted new savings, costs, and lifetimes based on new data sources and to reflect the aforementioned standard, there were no changes to the methodology. Savings generally dropped for all applications, and costs also generally went down. Some measure applications even became not cost-effective, particularly in Washington. Finally, while the RTF updates measures based on standards on the books effective the date of the standard, it was recognized that not all programs will immediately implement the change. To support those utilities, the workbook for this measure does include analysis assuming no standard. However, these savings that assume no standard were not approved by the RTF.

SEEM Calibration Wrap Up

In a continuation from the last two quarters, the RTF finally wrapped up calibration of the SEEM housing model this quarter.  Starting in July, staff brought proposed calibration results for phase I of single-family homes and phase II results followed in August. Phase I is a calibration for homes with regular energy patterns and no off-grid fuels that is working to understand how SEEM energy estimates (SEEM.kWh) relate to real world space heating energy.  This calibration analysis is focused on understanding the relationship between modeled energy use (SEEM.kWh) and billing data representing actual energy use (VBDD.kWh). Phase II, brought before the group in August, is an adjustment for off-grid fuels and irregular energy patterns.  Phase II analysis estimates the differences in electric heating energy associated with the presence of gas and/or off-grid fuels. It also estimates how annualized electric kWh differs between homes that have ‘good’ VBDD fits and those that have ‘poor’ VBDD fits, meaning the billing data does a good job of showing seasonality differences in usage related to heating. Lastly it estimates incidence of gas, off-grid fuels and poor VBDD fits for program-eligible homes to calculate average net adjustments. In September, the RTF wrapped up its calibration for manufactured homes, unlike the single-family calibration, these results were not proving answers that lined up as well with evaluation data, so when the RTF gets to updating manufactured homes measures, they intend to take into account not only the calibration, but any evaluation data that can support savings estimation.  The approval of manufactured home calibration signaled the end of the SEEM calibration saga, freeing the RTF to transition towards updating measures that rely on SEEM for estimating savings.     

Measure Interaction

First, the RTF considered their approach for measure interaction. The idea behind measure interaction is that the savings of some measures can depend on the presence or absence of other measures. In August the RTF focused on interaction between HVAC savings and weatherization. In the case of measure interaction, the order in which measures are installed relative to other measures is important. For example, a new heating system will save more energy in a poorly insulated home than it will in a well insulated home. In the past the RTF has utilized a number of means for getting at this likely order and calculating the savings while appropriately accounting for this interaction. This presentation's aim was to reexamine those solutions and ensure that the most effective method was being used and consistently applied.

Residential Single-Family Weatherization 

Then the RTF was free to update the Residential Single-Family Weatherization UES measure based on all this work.  This measure update was first brought to the RTF in September, but when the RTF was unable to agree on a motion, staff was directed to come back in October to address some of the group’s concerns. When the update was finally approved, savings for the most part went down while measure costs went up.  

Regional Conservation Progress Report

Since its inception, the RTF has been charged with annually surveying the region’s utilities, Bonneville Power Administration, NEEA, and system benefit charge administrators like Energy Trust of Oregon on their efficiency achievements. The RTF supports the compiling of the data into a Regional Conservation Progress (RCP) report, and staff present it to the Council to offer a full picture of the region’s progress against the power plan’s efficiency goals. This presentation of 2018’s RCP has been uploaded to the RTF’s website along with the accompanying workbook. Some high-level takeaways from the findings emerged. As a region, over the last three years, the Northwest has saved 637 aMW of energy as a result of improved energy efficiency.  These savings encompass utility program savings, NEEA alliance savings, momentum savings, and savings from codes and standards.  This puts the region ahead of its three-year conservation target of 600 aMW, set out by the Seventh Power Plan. While the region is currently on track with this target, milestones ramp up significantly over the remaining action period, leaving more than half of the six-year goal yet to be achieved.  The region has been seeing declining savings, in alignment with declining expenditures, from programs. This trend is forecasted to continue into 2019 and 2020 and raises some concerns about how the region will continue to meet these rapidly ramping goals. In 2018, as with previous years, a majority of savings came from lighting end uses, particularly in the commercial sector. However, there remains significant untapped HVAC and water heating potential. Regional utilities are exploring how to better reach customers and achieve greater savings HVAC. At the RTF moving forward, a big focus will be on measures that save HVAC energy.

2020 Workplan and Charter

During this quarter the RTF adopted the proposed 2020 Work Plan as well as accompanying changes to the RTF Charter.  Both proposals had been reviewed and approved by the RTF Policy Advisory Committee prior to coming before the RTF and will now go to the Council for approval. At a high-level, the budget for 2020 was set at $1.8 million plus 2.5% for inflation. This covers six full time contract analysts, one RTF manager, and allocates about $400k for contract RTF funds while supporting a reasonable work flow. This work plan 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. The RTF also approved expanding 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.  This expansion required an update to the RTF charter to add language for both DR and natural gas work.     

Subcommittee Roundup

SEEM Calibration and Measure Interaction Subcommittee: The SEEM Calibration subcommittee met 4 times in the third quarter.  The group was presented with a variety of results and helped staff wrap up the calibration adopted at the end of the quarter.

Residential Lighting Subcommittee: The Residential Lighting subcommittee meet to discuss a preview of planned updates to the RTF Residential Lighting UES measure which was presented and adopted at the following RTF meeting.

C&I Fans Subcommittee: The Commercial and Industrial Fans subcommittee reviewed the proposed measure analysis framework and data sources for the new UES Commercial and Industrial fans measure.

Small Rural Utilities Subcommittee: The Small/Rural Subcommittee maintains a dedicated function within the RTF to support the specific needs of small and rural utilities.

Market Analysis Subcommittee: The Market Analysis subcommittee met twice times this quarter. Once, in August, to discuss BPA’s non-res lighting market model, specifically their extrapolation methodology and initial results. Then, in September, the group met again for an update on NEEA’s development of a regional sales model to get at market-size estimates.

Irrigation Hardware Working Group: The Irrigation Hardware Working Group meet as a follow up to previous meeting to discuss what a survey of irrigation program participants and non-participants would look like and involve.

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.

Approved Measure Changes

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

  • Approve the Strip Curtain UES as presented and change the sunset date to July 30, 2024
  • Approve the Floating Head Pressure Controls UES as presented: Update load shape to floating head pressure control, add cost for variable speed fan, keep category at small saver, status at active and set the sunset date to July 30, 2024.
  • Approve the updates to the Residential Lighting UES measure as proposed with the application of the 45 lumen/watt standard for general purpose lamps in all states and for the expanded definition of GSLs (DOE Jan. 2017) for WA state, effective January 1, 2020.
    • For Screw-base lamps: keep Category at Proven, Status at Active, and set the sunset date to 9/30/20
    • For Pin-base lamps: keep Category at Small Saver, Status at Active, and set the sunset date to 9/30/20
    • For Fixtures: keep the Category at Planning, Status at Active, and set the sunset date to 9/30/20
  • Extend the sunset date for the Potato/Onion Shed Fan Variable Frequency Drive UES to August 2021
  • Extend the sunset date for the Multifamily New Construction (ID and MT) UES to June 2020
  • Extend the sunset date for Commercial Grocery Anti-Sweat Heater Controls UES and Residential Refrigerator/Freezer Decommissioning UES measures to December 2019