Berkeley Lab analysis shows ups and downs in the cost of saving electricity over time

January 25, 2017

The EMP Group is pleased to announce a new brief, Trends in the Program Administrator Cost of Saving Electricity for Utility Customer-Funded Energy Efficiency Programs, based on analysis of energy efficiency data from 78 program administrators in 36 states.

The brief is the fifth in a series of Berkeley Lab reports that are part of the Cost of Saved Energy Project. This brief summarizes analyses of cost and electricity savings data for more than 1,600 individual efficiency programs offered over multiple years to customers of utilities that serve about half of U.S. electricity load.

The report can be downloaded here.

A webinar summarizing key findings will be offered Tuesday, January 17 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time/11 a.m. Pacific. Register for the free webinar here.

Among the key findings:

  • The levelized cost to efficiency program administrators of saving electricity averaged $0.028 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) over the five-year period. The average program administrator cost of saved electricity declined from $0.044/kWh in 2009 to $0.023/kWh in 2011 and then rebounded slightly to $0.028/kWh in 2013.
  • In the commercial, industrial and agricultural market sector, the cost of saved electricity averaged $0.027/kWh over the five years, with a modest upward trend from 2011 to 2013.  In the residential sector, the cost of saved electricity averaged $0.035/kWh in the residential sector but declined from $0.071/kWh in 2009 to $0.030/kWh in 2013.
  • Weighting the program administrator's cost of saved electricity values by the amount of savings - lending more influence to program administrators that are managing larger portfolios of programs - shows better cost performance overall with an average of $0.022/kWh, possibly indicating economies of scale.
  • Similar trends were observed to varying degrees for behavior-based programs aimed at encouraging households to take conservation actions (e.g., turn off unused lights and curb air conditioning use), as well as home retrofits, residential lighting, and C&I custom and prescriptive rebate programs.

Please direct any questions on the brief to Charles Goldman ( or Ian Hoffman ( at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

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