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Where Did the Money Go? The Cost and Performance of the Largest Commercial Sector DSM Programs

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  • Joseph Eto
  • Suzie Kito
  • Leslie Shown
  • Richard Sonnenblick

Abstract

Spending on electricity energy-efficiency programs was responsible for most of the growth (and decline), and almost all of the energy savings from U. S. utility demand-side management (DSM) programs between 1990 and 1998. As a result of restructuring, utilities may never again assume such an important role in promoting electricity energy efficiency. However, as governments consider future domestic policies to promote energy efficiency in response to global environmental commitments, the potential of large-scale energy efficiency programs will likely be discussed. This article presents new information on a critical issue that will surely arise in these discussions: how much does it cost to save energy through programs that use monetary incentives and targeted information to influence individual customer decisions? We present findings from a detailed examination of the complete costs and measured energy savings from the largest commercial sector DSM programs operated by U.S. electric utilities in 1992. We extend the methodological considerations first identified by Joskow and Marron (1992) regarding differences among utility cost accounting conventions and savings evaluation methods. We quantify the impact of missing and incomplete data and, to the extent they can be assessed, demonstrate that our assumptions to address them are conservative in that they err on the side of overstating the apparent cost of saved energy. We find that the programs, as a whole, have saved energy at a cost of 3.2c/kWh. When compared to the cost of the energy they allowed the sponsoring utilities to avoid generating or purchasing (in the absence of these programs), we find that the programs, as a whole, are cost effective.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Eto & Suzie Kito & Leslie Shown & Richard Sonnenblick, 2000. "Where Did the Money Go? The Cost and Performance of the Largest Commercial Sector DSM Programs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 23-49.
  • Handle: RePEc:aen:journl:2000v21-02-a02
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Toshi H. Arimura, Shanjun Li, Richard G. Newell, and Karen Palmer, 2012. "Cost-Effectiveness of Electricity Energy Efficiency Programs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
    2. Olsthoorn, Mark & Schleich, Joachim & Gassmann, Xavier & Faure, Corinne, 2017. "Free riding and rebates for residential energy efficiency upgrades: A multi-country contingent valuation experiment," Working Papers "Sustainability and Innovation" S10/2017, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI).
    3. Kaiser, Mark J. & Pulsipher, Allan G., 2010. "Preliminary assessment of the Louisiana Home Energy Rebate Offer program using IPMVP guidelines," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 691-702, February.
    4. Kaiser, M.J. & Pulsipher, A.G., 2003. "A generalized modeling framework for public benefit fund program valuation," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 519-538.
    5. Kemppi, Heikki & Perrels, Adriaan, 2003. "Liberalised Electricity Markets - Strengths and Weaknesses in Finland and Nordpool," Research Reports 97, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Frondel, Manuel & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2005. "Evaluating environmental programs: The perspective of modern evaluation research," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 515-526, December.
    7. Boogen, Nina & Datta, Souvik & Filippini, Massimo, 2017. "Demand-side management by electric utilities in Switzerland: Analyzing its impact on residential electricity demand," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 402-414.
    8. Perrels, Adriaan, 2003. "Reconciling competitiveness and environmental objectives," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 76(1-3), pages 75-87, September.
    9. Shiljkut, Vladimir M. & Rajakovic, Nikola Lj., 2015. "Demand response capacity estimation in various supply areas," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 92(P3), pages 476-486.
    10. Dulleck, Uwe & Kaufmann, Sylvia, 2004. "Do customer information programs reduce household electricity demand?--the Irish program," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1025-1032, June.
    11. Kaiser, Mark J. & Pulsipher, Allan G. & Baumann, Robert H., 2004. "The potential economic and environmental impact of a Public Benefit Fund in Louisiana," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 191-206, January.

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    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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