Washington's diverse mix of private and public utilities have long records of offering customer energy efficiency and conservation programs. Washington's energy customers are served by a wide variety of utilities and programs, supported by regional organizations (the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and the Bonneville Power Authority).
Collectively, program spending in Washington on electric efficiency programs was $146.5 million in 2009. Washington electric utilities together budgeted $184.9 million for 2010 programs. Utilities reported savings of 665,204 MWh in 2009. Budgets on natural gas efficiency programs reached $9.1 million in 2010.
Reported budgets for energy efficiency programs for 2011, and electricity savings for 2010, are in the State Spending and Savings Tables.
Washington voters approved an initiative in November 2006 that established an EERS by setting new requirements for electricity resources, including greater use of renewable energy and conservation. Utilities now are required "[T]o pursue all available conservation that is cost-effective, reliable and feasible."
The state's investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities have historically offered customer energy efficiency programs even though Washington has not had the type of state legislative requirements seen in many states. Washington’s publicly owned utilities, which include municipal utilities and public utility districts, have long records of significant support for energy efficiency programs. The BPA and a regional energy planning organization, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPPC), have been very influential in advancing energy efficiency as both customer and system resources for public and private utilities for over thirty years. Under a new conservation initiative, utilities must now use methodologies for analyzing and selecting demand-side resources that are consistent with the methodologies used by NPPC. These new efforts are just underway and should further advance energy efficiency in Washington.
Customers in Washington are served by a wide variety of utilities—public utility districts, municipal utilities (including one of the nation's largest municipal utilities, Seattle City Light), investor-owned utilities, and rural cooperatives. Energy efficiency programs are provided by all of these types of utilities. The investor-owned utilities carry out DSM programs with regulatory oversight by the state's regulatory body, the Utilities and Transportation Commission. Publicly-owned utilities provide programs to their members with oversight by their respective governance bodies. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, a regional organization seeking to transform markets for energy efficiency, provides a strong unifying force for the many individual utility programs offered across the state—particularly for products and services most amenable to market transformation approaches, such as consumer products and building design, construction and operation. BPA also has played and continues to play a strong leadership role in supporting individual utilities' efforts.
Collectively, Washington utility electric efficiency programs saved 665,204 MWh in 2009. Reported budgets for energy efficiency programs for 2011, and electricity savings for 2010, are in the State Spending and Savings Tables.
Puget Sound Energy's self-direct program combines a dedicated incentive funding structure based on customer contributions with a competitive bidding process for unclaimed funds. Self-direct customers continue to pay their cost-recovery mechanism (CRM) fees but have access to 82.5% of it to fund up to 100% of efficiency measure costs. Customers have 24 months to complete their projects, after which all unused funds are pooled together and a competitive request for proposals is issued to all program-eligible customers for their use. More information on large customer self-direct programs can be found in the ACEEE report, Follow the Leaders: Improving Large Customer Self-Direct Programs.
Washington is a non-restructured state and has no public benefits funding to support programs. Investor-owned utilities recover the costs of energy efficiency programs through tariff riders. Program costs are reported and adjusted annually in proceedings before the Utilities and Transportation Commission. Most publicly-owned utilities in Washington also provide funding for energy efficiency programs and services.
Washington electric utilities budgeted $184.9 million for 2010 programs. Budgets totaled $9.1 million for natural gas programs in 2010.
Reported budgets for energy efficiency programs for 2011 are in the State Spending and Savings Tables.
Summary: Biennial and Ten-Year Goals vary by utility. Law requires savings targets to be based on the Northwest Power Plan, which estimates potential savings of about 1.5% savings annually through 2030 for Washington utilities.
Washington voters approved ballot initiative 937 in November 2006 which set new renewable energy resource and conservationrequirements for large electric utilities to meet. The ballot, codified in Chapter 19.285 RCW, had rules adopted for its implementation in 2007 and 2008 (WAC 480-109, WAC 194-37). The energy conservation section requires each qualifying utility (those with more than 25,000 customers in Washington) to “pursue all available conservation that is cost-effective, reliable and feasible.” Seventeen utilities, both publicly owned and investor owned, currently meet the definition of qualifying utility. “High efficiency cogeneration” is included as part of conservation and the term is defined in the law. The law requires utilities to use the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s (NPCC) methodology to determine their achievable cost-effective conservation potential through 2019, and update that potential assessment every two years for the subsequent ten-year period. Utilities also must establish a biennial acquisition target for 2010-2011, and update that target every two years. If a utility does not meet its conservation goals, it must pay an administrative fine for each MWh of shortfall, starting at $50 and adjusting annually for inflation beginning in 2007.
The three major IOU’s submitted reports in 2010 with a biennial conservation target as well as a ten-year achievable conservation potential. The energy efficiency targets Washington’s utilities must meet amount to some of the most aggressive in the country.
Washington has no Natural Gas EERS.
Avista Utilities has a lost revenue recovery mechanism. The pilot began in 2007 and did not include the effects of weather or customer growth in the determination of lost margin recoverable by the utility. The mechanism was made permanent by request of the company. (Docket No. UG-060518 (February 2007), Order 04 and UE-090135/UG-090135 Order 10 (December 22, 2009)
Cascade Natural Gas began a margin-per-customer decoupling 3-year pilot for residential and general commercial service customers in October 2007. Approval of the decoupling mechanism depended on approval of Cascade’s Conservation and Low Income Weatherization Plan. The plan included specified savings targets, an earnings cap based on an 8.85% rate of return, and penalties for not achieving savings targets. The pilot ended in 2010. Cascade has filed a petition seeking to extend the pilot which is pending. (Cascade Natural Gas: Docket No. UG-060256 (January 2007), Order Nos. 05, 06, and 07 and UG-101656 (October 1, 2010))
In November 2010 the Utilities and Transportation Commission issued a report and policy statement laying out the elements that a proposed decoupling mechanism should meet for both gas and electric utilities. (Docket U-100522).
No reward is in place or proposed by regulated electric utilities; however they can be penalized if they fail to meet energy savings goals. (Dockets UE-011570, UG-011571 and UE-100177 (Order 5).
In November 2010 the Utilities and Transportation Commission issued a report and policy statement laying out the elements that a proposed incentive mechanism should meet for both gas and electric utilities. (Docket U-100522).
Washington, as part of the four-state region served by the Bonneville Power Authority and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, incorporates energy efficiency as a resource for planning and investment decisions. In the 5th Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Plan, "conservation" (energy efficiency and conservation resources) are established as the cheapest and most readily available energy resources for meeting load growth—enough to meet all load growth through 2012 and about 50% of load growth through 2024. The plan is the basis for utility investment decisions in the region and individual utilities are tasked with meeting individual goals that support meeting this regional goal.
The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Washington relies on regulatory orders (Docket UE-100176, Docket UE-100170, and Docket UE-100177for Avista Corporation, Pacific Power and Light Company, and Puget Sound Energy respectively). Evaluations are mainly administered by the utilities. Companies should follow the Northwest Power and Conservation Council methodologies per the Regional Technical Forum. In addition, each electric utility has been asked to prepare an EM&V Frameworkas well as an EM&V Plan, which they will file with their next Biennial Conservation Plan. So far, only Avista has filed completed documents. Washington uses four of the five classic benefit-cost tests identified in the California Standard Practice Manual. These are the Total Resource Cost (TRC), Utility/Programs Administrator (UCT), Participant (PCT), and Ratepayer Impact Measure (RIM). Washington specifies the TRC to be its primary test for decision making. The benefit-cost tests are required for overall portfolio and customer project level screening. Only low income programs need be cost-effective at the program level. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in the Energy Independence Act of 2006.