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The Economics of Utility Residential Energy Conservation Programs: A Pacific Northwest Example

Eric Hirst and Richard Goeltz

Year: 1984
Volume: Volume 5
Number: Number 3
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol5-No3-11
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The bottom line for any utility conservation program is its overall worth: whether program costs are justified by the value of the electricity savings. That is, are these programs worthwhile investments to utility customers that participate in the programs, customers that do not participate, the utility system, and society as a whole? How sensitive are estimates of program worth to the input parameters (program-induced energy savings, discount rates, future average and marginal electricity prices)?This paper discusses our assessment of program benefits and costs for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) Residential Weatherization Pilot Program. Unlike other assessments, the present work is based on a detailed empirical evaluation of the program. We collected enough data from both program participants and nonparticipants to analyze the actual energy savings that could be attributed to the BPA program. We also obtained information on actual program costs. This information was used to compute the Net Present Worth (NPW) of the program from the perspectives of program participants, the BPA power system, and the Pacific Northwest region as a whole.

Energy and Economic Effects of Utility Financial Incentive Programs: The BPA Residential Weatherization Program

Eric Hirst

Year: 1987
Volume: Volume 8
Number: Number 2
DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol8-No2-7
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Many electric utilities offer their residential customers substantial financial incentives (low-interest loans or rebates) to install energy-efficient equipment and building retrofit measures (Stern, Berry, and Hirst 1985). For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority gave zero-interest loans to almost 500,000 households between 1977 and 1985; these loans average almost $1000 each for installation of retrofit measures (TVA 1985). Pacific Gas and Electric Company spent almost $100 million on administrative and debt service costs for its residential retrofit loan program, in which about 500,000 households participated (California PLC 1984).

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