Avoided energy and capacity costs are the primary yardstick utilities use to determine which energy efficiency programs are cost-effective for their customers. But sometimes "non-energy impacts" — not commonly recognized as directly associated with energy generation, transmission and distribution — represent substantial benefits, such as improving comfort, air quality and public health.
Considering whether and how to include non-energy impacts is an important part of cost-benefit analyses for these programs. A new report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Applying Non-Energy Impacts from Other Jurisdictions in Cost-Benefit Analyses of Energy Efficiency Programs: Resources for States for Utility Customer-Funded Programs, offers practical considerations for deciding which non-energy impacts to include and how to apply values or methods from other jurisdictions.
Researchers reviewed studies quantifying non-energy impacts used in 30 states and applied a five-point system to indicate transferability of a value or method from each study (see table).
The report covers 16 categories of non-energy impacts:
- Water resource costs and benefits
- Other fuels costs and benefits
- Avoided environmental compliance costs
- Environmental impacts
- Health and safety
- Asset value
- Energy and/or capacity price suppression effects
- Avoided costs of compliance with Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements
- Avoided credit and collection costs
- Avoided ancillary services
- Economic development and job impacts
- Public health impacts
- Energy security impacts
- Increased reliability
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office supported this work. Report authors are Mary Sutter and Jenn Mitchell-Jackson, Grounded Research and Consulting, and Steven R. Schiller, Lisa Schwartz and Ian Hoffman, Berkeley Lab.