Role of ESCOs vs. Utilities in Encouraging Common Energy Efficiency Goals
Source: Alliance to Save Energy
- January 8, 2019
- 464 views
The Alliance to Save Energy recently published an interesting article titled "How Can Energy Service Companies and Utilities Partner More Closely to Boost Systems-Level Efficiency," which asked an evident but important question. What role to ESCOs and utilities play in total system efficiency?
In the face of increasing goals for grid resilience, minimizing effects to the climate, and managing energy systems, energy efficiency plays a key role. ESCOs often approach energy efficiency from a building level, using retrofits, components, and smart systems, while utilities obviously focus on the larger efficiency of the energy system-- from generation through transmission/distribution and into the use in buildings across residential, commercial, and industrial sectors.
According to the ASE article:
There is a strong case for increased ESCO-utility collaboration. While component-based efficiency measures are still important for energy savings, systems-level measures are necessary to achieve greater levels of efficiency. ESCOs have decades of experience applying a “systems approach” to building retrofits, which considers the interactions of components within and among various building systems (e.g., HVAC, lighting), as well as interactions among multiple buildings, and between the building and the electric grid. From building system retrofits to integration of renewable energy and energy storage, ESCO projects run the gamut of energy-saving solutions. There is opportunity for ESCOs to lend their systems-level knowledge and expertise in closer partnership with utilities and, in return, to benefit from the utilities’ access to building and grid energy data and their unique relationships with customers, including those in energy assistance programs and underserved markets.
Explained this way, ESCO/utility partnerships for total system efficiency seems like a common sense solution, but what I didn't see in the article from ASE was examples of successful implementations. That's why I wanted to take this topic and question to the Energy Central community.
In general, what role do you see ESCOs playing compared with energy efficiency, and is there cause for a change in the paradigm of responsibilities? Has your organization already implemented the types of collaborations discussed above? Where should this topic move next?