Innovative ideas for every utility

These 12 recommendations by Stanford experts offer a glimpse into America's energy future

Across the U.S., a growing number of states -- on both sides of the political spectrum -- have adopted a wide range of policies and programs that encourage utility innovation, promote cleaner energy technologies, and give rise to smarter and more efficient energy consumers.

And, according to a new study by Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy, many of these policies and programs are ripe for emulation in all 50 states. The report, entitled "The State Clean Energy Cookbook," analyzes 12 pioneering clean energy policies implemented to date, and offers specific recommendations on how each approach can be scaled up across the nation. The recommendations are based on past state successes and are intended to serve as a blueprint for policymakers and stakeholders.



The State Clean Energy Cookbook recommends 12 clean energy policy innovations and provides case studies on each (Source: Stanford Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance).

Among the recommendations that caught our eye are Energy Efficiency Resource Standards (EERS) and dynamic pricing mechanisms. For EERS -- long-term energy savings targets designed to guide states and utilities towards a more energy-efficient future -- the report highlighted the case of Wisconsin. While the Badger State had been pursuing energy efficiency since the 1980s, it took its efforts to the next level in 2011 by implementing an EERS. The policy change sparked immediate results with higher program participation and increased statewide electricity savings. In 2012, 26 states had implemented EERS, which led to more than 20 million megawatt-hours of electricity savings that year:


26 states have adopted and funded EERS policies, with two states having a combined EERS and Renewable Energy Standard (RES)

 Aside from state efficiency standards, the report also highlights the importance of utility and customer market incentives. Among the suggested incentives are time-variant electricity rates, also known as dynamic pricing rates. Dynamic rates, which correspond to different grid conditions, can help utilities manage peak demand and empower customers with the customized energy management options that they seek.

To see the impact of dynamic pricing rates in action, one needs to look no further than Baltimore Gas and Electric's successful peak time rebate program. Last summer, BGE launched a groundbreaking Behavioral Demand Response program to provide valuable, real-time energy analysis to their customers. Through the program, BGE -- in partnership with Opower -- sent over 3.2 million communications with energy savings guidance, tips, and feedback to customers through email, text message, and paper reports.

Opower’s Behavioral Demand Response platform utilizes dynamic price mechanisms to help customers manage their electricity consumption on peak energy days.[/caption] The results of last summer’s program were profound: BGE communicated with 315,000 customers before and after peak events, saving BGE customers more than $7 million. And the success has continued into this summer: for example, during a peak event earlier this month, three-fourths of eligible BGE customers participated in the program, cumulatively saving $2.4 million in one day! Similar approaches are bringing benefits to customers from coast to coast. As the Stanford report aptly points out, there is great potential for expanding EERS, dynamic rates, and other innovative energy initiatives to all 50 states. 

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