RTF Quarterly Newsletter: Quarter No. 45 July-September 2021

  • October 22, 2021

The third quarter of the year has wrapped up and the RTF has been hard at work throughout. Members in the third and final year of their service term spent the summer developing some new HVAC measures, exploring new avenues for the RTF to provide value outside of measure level guidance, scoped new measures to add to the measure portfolio, and helped plan for 2022.  Reflecting on the quarter behind us, staff is grateful to all of the members hard work and commitment to the RTF. We’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times, but the members’ dedication and genuine care they give to every measure, work product, and discussion is above and beyond, and the region is truly lucky to have a group on their side. 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.

New HVAC Measures & Updates

A lot of this quarter’s work fell under the HVAC application with the RTF developing a new gas measure, a new measure for zonal heating small commercial spaces, and spending some time updating an existing ductless heat pump measure.  

Residential Gas Furnaces

At the July meeting, after having brought a gas furnace measure to the group at the previous month’s meeting, contract analysts followed up on that prior meeting direction and the RTF voted to adopt the measure.  This is a new proven measure that is part of RTF efforts to build up the gas side of the measure portfolio. Energy efficiency for gas furnaces can be gained through condensing to capture waste heat, heat exchanger improvements, two-stage and modulating combustion, low nitrogen oxide premix burners, insulation improvements, direct and/or concentric venting, off-cycle dampers, and more efficient blower motors. This measure applies to ENERGY STAR or CEE Tier 2 furnaces with an AFUE of 0.95+ or CEE Tier 3 furnaces with an AFUE of 0.97+. Applicable furnaces are in existing single family or manufactured homes with a heating output of less than 225,000 BTU per hour.

Small Commercial DHPs

At the August meeting the RTF adopted a new planning measure focused on smaller commercial spaces and an existing space where there’s electric resistance heating. The group was able to make some updates during the meeting that were incorporated into the measure, directing analysts to add a few space types and modify the modeling slightly. Qualifying DHPs are inverter-driven, with a variable speed compressor, and have a single outdoor compressor and one or more indoor blower units connected with a single refrigeration circuit. They are less than or equal to 36,000 Btu/h in total rated heating capacity at 47 degrees F, are fully ductless or use short duct runs, and are not installed in a commercial kitchen, computer server room, or other space where heating is not required. Applicable space types are offices, schools, grocery and non-grocery retail, restaurant dining, lodging common areas, and lodging guest rooms. The measure is approved as planning due to uncertainty in the savings estimates. The RTF has developed and adopted a research strategy for post-installation metering and targeted billing analysis to try and reduce that uncertainty. 

DHPs for Electric FAF Homes

Finally, at the September meeting, the RTF updated savings and costs for the ductless heat pumps for single family and manufactured homes heated by electric forced air furnaces measure. This measure is the addition of a DHP to an existing home with a central electric forced air furnace. Typically, the DHP is used to offset some or most of the heating load otherwise met by the EFAF.  However, this measure specification does not include a control strategy, nor does it preclude homes with significant supplemental fuel use. 

New BPA evaluation data allowed for updated savings for MH in HZ1 and prompted a reevaluation of heating zone three that resulted in a HZ3 application being added back into the measure. A lot of uncertainty in HZ3 remains, and the savings are still considered unreliable, and require more research. The measure saw some changes in cost-effectiveness because of these updated savings.

New RTF Evaluation Guidance

Industrial Strategic Energy Management

The RTF is exploring potential paths for providing additional guidance around non-UES type programs, starting with industrial SEM. The goal of this work is to explore a potential approach for the RTF to provide direction in support of consistent and reliable energy savings estimates for custom projects and address specific challenges to consistent and reliable savings estimation by focusing on specific measure types. Staff opted to start with Industrial SEM because they received a new measure proposal from a utility stakeholder. 

At the July RTF meeting the group adopted a guidance document that is intended to supplement the RTF Guidelines by providing guidance specifically relevant to the evaluated program-level savings, costs, benefits and lifetimes of measures implemented by industrial Strategic Energy Management (SEM) programs. SEM is a collection of organizational practices, policies and processes intended to result in implementation of efficiency measures. Some programs target O&M while others pursue both capital and O&M measures. The guidance document lays out what is needed for evaluated savings claims to be consistent with other measures included in the Power Plan. It also provides some guidance on the level of effort and which important questions may be impractical to resolve empirically. The document is not intended to be a duplication of evaluation guidance like those from IPMVP or BPA or to offer requirements for site-level savings values used in program engagement contexts. The ultimate goal of this work is to expand this type of product for other custom projects, so stay tuned for more efforts coming.

New Measure Proposals

As they do about twice a year, the RTF Contract Analyst Team presented their preliminary scoping of proposed measures for the RTF to review and decide which measure to allocate further resources into developing. These proposed measures are submitted via an RTF webpage and are ideally a reflection of the region’s interests. In their scoping, CATs are looking for if there is a clearly defined UES or Standard Protocol measure and what that measure’s specification would be. They are also considering the value of RTF development, the anticipated lift of development and how the measure fits into the RTF’s existing workplan. The RTF body is then asked to weigh value, lift and fit to determine which of the proposed measures is a good use of RTF resource. Staff then takes the RTFs decision to allocate resources and fits the measures’ development into the work plan considering regional priorities and time available.

In September the RTF considered six measure proposals and voted to allocate resources to the following:

Air Source Heat Pumps for Commercial Buildings, Retrofit and Upgrade
This measure was proposed by BPA, and is likely to consider both an upgrade and a conversion measure to either replace an existing electric-resistance heating system with an efficient electric ASHP or upgrade an existing ASHP to a more efficient one. It has been added to measure added to the RTF measure queue to hopefully be developed next year.

Packaged Terminal Heat Pumps for Multifamily and Commercial Buildings
This measure would be to install a PTHP into a multi-family or commercial building to replace existing electric resistance heat. In it's development the RTF will need to think through defining appropriate efficient cases. DHPS aren’t always the most cost-effective option, sometimes a PTHP might be the more logical choice.

Efficient Electric Vehicles
This measure would be for an EV that is able to travel a greater than average distance be kWh of input energy (MPGe). The RTF will need to think through both the efficient case and competition groups. There is a lot to learn through this measure's development but it’s definitely something regional utilities are thinking about as EVs will be a growing part of utilities’ loads.

Commercial Whole Building Performance Standards
RTF approved the development of a white paper to look at paths towards deep savings and costs in commercial buildings from a pure technical analysis perspective. There is more scoping to be done for this product, but similar to the ASHP white paper the RTF produced this year, this hopefully will help inform programs and program design. This will be a slightly different product than a UES, but guidance documents like this are something the RTF is interested in exploring when they can provide value to the region.

2022 RTF Work Plan

At the August meeting, the RTF was presented with staff’s proposed 2022 RTF work plan for their consideration and eventual recommendation to the Council for adoption. The work plan and budget reflects a scope of work and level of effort that was agreed to by all funders and supported through the five-year funding agreement for 2020 to 2024. Most of the work plan focuses on the core strength of the RTF over the past 20 years: developing electric energy efficiency savings estimates and methodologies for use in efficiency program planning and evaluation. In addition, this work continues the efforts to analyze natural gas energy efficiency savings from dual fuel and natural gas technologies and the assessment of demand response potential from technologies that provide both energy efficiency and demand response. The 2022 Work Plan also identifies several important projects that will enhance our understanding of the energy savings, costs, and benefits of both energy efficiency and demand response. This includes following up on recommendations identified in the Council’s draft 2021 Power Plan. The RTF approved the proposed work plan which then went on to the RTF Policy Advisory Committee for their recommendation and was approved by the Council at their October meeting.

Upcoming at the RTF

The RTF has a full slate to round out 2021. Over the final quarter of the year, the RTF will be taking up the following measures:

Doors on Display Cases 
Water Cooler Timers
ENERGY STAR Air Purifiers

Secondary Glazing Systems
Residential and Commercial Advanced Power Strips

Residential Connected Thermostats
MH and SF Duct Sealing
Residential Door Sweeps

If you have any interest, questions, concerns etc. with any of the above measures please reach out to RTF admin (rtfadmin@nwcouncil.org) who can get you in touch with the contract analyst doing the work.

Subcommittee Roundup

Small & Rural Utilities Subcommittee
The Small/Rural Subcommittee meets once a quarter to discuss how to support the specific needs of small and rural utilities.  

Ductless Heat Pumps Subcommittee
The DHP subcommittee met to preview and provide feedback on the contract analyst team’s proposed planning UES measure for commercial DHPs. This measure will be presented at the August 2021 RTF meeting for approval.

Implementers Group
The Implementers Group meets once a quarter to discuss the outcome of the RTF meetings, 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 Updates

  • Approved updates to the Commercial Food Service Measures Research Strategy as presented.
  • Updated the Variable Speed Drive UES to change the Status to Active and set the Sunset Date to July 2023.
  • Deactivated the Ground Source Heat Pump Upgrades UES measure. 
  • Opted to not allocate further resources to developing a Residential Cellular Shade UES measure. 
  • Extended the Sunset Date of the Single Family Duct Sealing UES to December 2021.
  • Extended the Sunset Date of the DHP for MF homes measure to September 30 2024. 
  • Deactivated the commercial Pre-Rinse Spray Valves measure. 
  • Adopted the Air Curtain for Walk-In UES as presented. Changed spec to a pre-conditions baseline of no effective barrier and allocated resources to developing a measure application for cold storage warehouses. Set the Category to Planning, the Status to Active, and the Sunset Date to July 2024.