Efficiency Potential

An energy efficiency potential study is a tool to help states advance smart energy policies and programs by providing critical data resources to inform decision makers.  These studies have been conducted by states and utilities since the 1980s to quantify the size of the energy efficiency resources in their territories and to identify major opportunities for energy savings. A study could support a number of state or utility needs for designing efficiency policies and programs, such as setting energy savings goals, incorporating energy efficiency into the integrated resource planning (IRP) process, or determining funding levels for efficiency programs and policies. 

In the traditional approach of energy efficiency potential studies, there are three broad categories of efficiency potential: technical, an ideal scenario which sums all energy efficiency measures that are feasible given technology limitations; economic, the fraction of the technical potential that is cost-effective; and achievable, or fraction of the economic potential that is attainable given actual program infrastructure and both societal and market limitations.

While energy efficiency potential analyses have been prepared for decades, there has been some inconsistency in how the studies have been conducted and how terms are defined.  See Eldridge et al. 2008 for a discussion of energy efficiency potential studies. ACEEE has conducted several energy efficiency potential analyses over the past three decades and recently began to take a somewhat alternative approach.   Our State Clean Energy Resource Project produces a series of state efficiency studies and in addition to estimating the overall potential for energy efficiency in a state, the studies also focus on specific policy opportunities for states to pursue and engage stakeholders. 


Policy Analysis


Federal and state energy efficiency policy analysis, which examines the overall costs and benefits of potential new policy opportunities and those of existing policies and programs, is a critical tool in developing effective energy efficiency policies. ACEEE conducts in-depth policy analysis to advise state and federal policymakers and program managers. 

Several ACEEE research areas focus on documenting existing program and policy best practices as well as the barriers to greater energy efficiency, which are critical tools to a robust policy analysis.  Our assessments of new policy opportunities typically estimate the costs to implement policies over time, the energy savings and consumer dollar savings potential, economic and job creation benefits, and the allocation of these costs and benefits across consumer sectors. 

ACEEE has conducted federal policy analysis for numerous versions of proposed energy bills and enacted legislation, including the Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 1992), the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), and the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (ACELA), among others.  Major energy efficiency provisions that have been included in these policy analyses include fuel economy standards, appliance and equipment standardsenergy efficiency tax incentivesbuilding energy codes, and industrial energy efficiency.  Several ACEEE policy analyses include multiple scenarios to estimate how various levels of energy efficiency policies could impact consumer energy bills and job creation.

State energy efficiency potential studies are another policy analysis tool.  ACEEE has conducted state energy efficiency studies for over a dozen states as part of our State Clean Energy Resource Project.  These studies typically examine policies such as energy efficiency resource standards, building energy codes, efficiency in state government facilities, industrial energy efficiency, and combined heat and power, and assess the relative impacts on energy savings, consumer energy bills, and the

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