Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Energy efficiency that doesn't hurt utilities


The energy efficiency meter measures the energy savings and allows it to be sold as it occurs. This meter was developed by EnergyRM, with support from OR BEST and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), a non-profit that works with regional utilities to prove out new, energy-efficient technologies.“Partnering with Seattle City Light, NEEA and others on this project will create better integration of information between industry, utilities, building owners and investors,” stated Rob Harmon, CEO of EnergyRM.
A 20-year contract with a utility allows an investor to profitably invest in energy efficiency upgrades with longer payback times, squeezing more efficiency out of the building. And because the contract is with a utility, the opportunity is appealing to long-term investors who are not necessarily the owners of the building. This means outside capital can be profitably invested in efficiency without relying on a building owner’s ability to secure a loan.
“If adopted nationally, this could be a trillion dollar game changer,” said Denis Hayes, President of the Bullitt Foundation. “By separating the efficiency investor from the building owner, just as we separate the wind farm developer from the rancher whose property the turbines are on, we can reduce the energy use in most existing buildings by more than 40 percent. I know lots of investors who would be delighted to get a safe, consistent return for 20 years while reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” he added.
While the pilot program is testing this new model in one building – the Bullitt Center – it could be scaled to work for any utility.
Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.