Incorporating Experimental Design Techniques into Energy Efficiency Program Evaluation
Catherine Wolfram, Meredith Fowlie, and Maximilian Auffhammer
Which energy efficiency programs can we evaluate that have the greatest potential for providing new knowledge? In this project, Faculty Director Catherine Wolfram and E2e faculty affiliates Meredith Fowlie and Maximilian Auffhammer are working with the Energy Division of the California Public Utilities Commission to incorporate an experimental design evaluation into energy efficiency programs.
In 2013, electric utilities in the U.S. budgeted nearly $7 billion for energy efficiency programs. This will only increase: spending on energy efficiency is projected to double in the next decade (Barbose, et al., 2013). Yet many of these programs are require significant investments of capital and time, with little rigorous evidence of their effectiveness.
This project seeks to identify energy efficiency programs that are well-suited for an evaluation and that have high potential for new knowledge.
E2e has partnered with the California Public Utilities Commission to identify energy efficiency programs that are especially well suited for evaluation, either through randomized encouragement designs (REDs) or randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Programs with particular behavioral responses that have been difficult to identify and quantify will be targeted.
Once these programs are identified, the E2e Project will advise the Energy Division at the CPUC and help coordinate the implementation of an evaluation design. We will also advise on any data or implementation issues that may arise through the evaluation. Once the evaluation is completed and the data collected, E2e researchers will analyze the results and provide a technical report, comparing the results from the experimental approach to a “before and after” approach. This comparison will be useful to illustrate how the results may or may not differ between the evaluation techniques.
This project represents how research and government agencies can pool their resources and expertise for the benefit of everyone. The knowledge gained from this project will be useful for energy policy makers everywhere, providing empirical evidence of how effective certain programs are and thus, enabling better design of programs.
Barbose, Galen L., Charles A. Goldman, Ian M. Hoffman, and Megan A. Billingsley. 2013. “The Future of Utility Customer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs in the United States: Projected Spending and Savings to 2025.” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.