Evaluating Chattanooga Gas Company’s 2012-13 Energy Efficiency Programs and Ideas for Evaluating Future Energy Efficiency Programs in Tennessee


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Chattanooga Gas Company (CGC), a subsidiary of Southern Company, delivered an
energy efficiency program for its Tennessee residential customers from 2011 through 2013. The
program included two measures: (1) providing programmable, automatic set-back thermostats to
requesting customers, free of charge; and (2) a related Community Outreach and Customer
Education effort. The Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA), in its November 8, 2010 Order in
Docket No. 09-00183, approved the CGC efficiency program. That Order also specified that
TRA and CGC would consult with the National Regulatory Research Institute (NRRI) about the
program evaluation.
NRRI and CGC initiated a contract for work on April 1, 2013. NRRI agreed to assist
TRA with two tasks: (1) establishing evaluation metrics and completing an evaluation for a
2012-13 CGC energy efficiency program; and also (2) providing general guidance about
evaluating any future energy efficiency programs. This document is the NRRI final work
product for those two tasks. This document is organized into five major parts: (1) Part I
provides an introduction to the project and the two tasks; (2) Part II describes the CGC 2012-13
program and measures to be evaluated; (3) Part III presents ideas about evaluating that particular
program; (4) Part IV presents general concepts about evaluating any future TRA regulated
energy efficiency programs; and (5) Part V is a brief conclusion. In addition, an Appendix
presents an annotated review of literature regarding energy program evaluations, particularly
including several references about the specific challenges associated with public utility energy
efficiency (EE) programs, like the 2012-13 CGC offering, that include incentives for
programmable set-back thermostats. As that Appendix shows, evaluations have identified
several important concerns and two major results were: (1) the U.S. Department of Energy and
Environmental Protection Agency stopped certifying programmable thermostats in 2009; and,
(2) many EE programs subsequently discontinued incentives for programmable thermostats.
The CGC 2012-13 program succeeded in notifying customers and delivering the set-back
thermostats: almost twice as many customers as initially projected asked for and received the
thermostats, reaching approximately 16% of CGC’s eligible customers. However, extensive
efforts would have been needed to determine the associated energy savings and compare them to
the expected savings CGC modeled prior to initiating the program. Now, after the fact, it such
efforts would be impractical. NRRI’s recommendation to TRA is to direct CGC to complete a
simple process evaluation, based on the data that is already accessible.
Going forward, it is best if evaluation techniques and protocols are incorporated at the
beginning of EE programming, when measures and program delivery mechanisms are selected.
That way, provisions can be made for collecting and analyzing the relevant data and the
evaluation activity can proceed in concert with program delivery.

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