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Research Report

The Need for Climate-Forward Efficiency: Early Experience and Principles for Evolution

December 2, 2021
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The purpose of utility energy efficiency programs is evolving as modern policy expectations—such as environmental protection, equity, and economic development—assume new importance in many states. This report introduces a climate-forward efficiency approach that elevates equitable greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation and adaptation as drivers to align energy savings with periods of high carbon intensity on the grid; unlock the benefits of electrification; better integrate efficiency with demand flexibility; maintain a reliable, secure, and low-cost electricity system; expand the equity and reach of efficiency programs; and animate local markets. The report highlights a variety of policy and programmatic approaches taken by leading states and utilities, including the adoption of “next-generation” energy efficiency resource standards and metrics, utility business model reforms, modifications to demand-side resources’ eligibility for public funding, changes to cost-effectiveness testing, and new approaches to resource planning and procurement. This report concludes with recommended principles that should guide the selection of GHG metrics for climate-forward efficiency.

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Suggested citation:
Specian, M., and R. Gold. 2021. The Need for Climate-Forward Efficiency: Early Experience and Principles for Evolution. Washington, DC: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. aceee.org/research-report/u2106.

 

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Energy Efficiency and Climate Change Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) Energy Efficiency as a Resource 
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