Fair warning: I'll write a series of posts on this subject over the next few days.
The California Public Utilities Commission is releasing a series of draft Evaluation, Measurement, and Validation studies of utility energy efficiency programs for the 2006-2008 program cycle.
These studies perform a couple of functions: they determine whether utility programs delivered the energy savings that the utilities claimed they did, and whether the programs truly influenced customers to make energy efficiency decisions that they otherwise wouldn't have.
Sounds like an arcane effort, but for utilities and IT industry folks, the review of PG&E's High Tech market program has potentially far-reaching repercussions. If PG&E programs are shown to accomplish cost-effective energy savings while truly influencing data center and IT managers, a brighter future for other utility program offerings across the country could be imagined. Of course the converse...
Which leads to the dreadful news: the draft report indicates that PG&E only accomplished 45% of claimed savings, and that PG&E can only claim to have influenced 60% of customers through the program offerings.
I'll post comments (very freely!) on the substantive issues raised by the review - but fundamentally, it misses the mark on three major levels. One, PG&E stands firmly behind the technical work that supports the energy savings claims. Two, the rate of savings has been devalued largely for new construction projects, due to a flaw in evaluation methodology. And three, the evaluation of program influence was based on a ridiculously low sample rate and flawed methodology.
In further posts, I'll try to offer a high-level overview up front, followed by the devilish details.