Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities' statewide program for energy efficiency and renewable energy, is highly cost-effective, according to a new independent evaluation report released by the Cadmus Group.
The Cadmus report focuses on activities and achievements for calendar year 2011, which was characterized by significant transitions in program administration, implementation and design. During 2011, the report found that Focus on Energy provided incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to more than 195,000 residential and business customers. Total verified net energy savings accomplished as a result of Focus on Energy projects amounted to 441 GWh and approximately 17 thousand Therms, or the equivalent of providing electricity to 44,000 homes for one year. The report also found that Focus on Energy returned $428 million in benefits for Wisconsin ratepayers.
"Our goal since becoming administrator of Focus on Energy in May 2011 has been to provide Wisconsin businesses and residents the most cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy program in the country," said William S. Haas, director of program administration. "This report underscores Focus on Energy's success and confirms the positive feedback we've been receiving from the program's customers."
The Cadmus Group estimates that in 2011 statewide benefits of the energy savings achieved by Focus on Energy programs exceeded costs by a ratio of 2.46 to 1. This represents a considerable increase from the 2010 ratio of 2.3 to 1. In measuring Focus on Energy's cost effectiveness, the Cadmus Group compared the financial benefits from investing in programs to the financial costs associated with running the programs and delivering the energy efficiency and renewable resource measures.
Although the cost effectiveness of the program has been on the rise, the report also found that energy savings achieved in 2011 lagged those achieved in previous years. Factors that contributed to this reduced level of savings include the numerous and significant changes in program administration, design and delivery that took place in 2011. Additionally, the effects of reduced incentive levels implemented midway through 2010 and continued in 2011 had an impact on customer participation during the year.
"We are very proud that Focus on Energy is a highly cost-effective program, however we recognize that there is still a lot of work to be done," Haas said. "For this calendar year, we are pleased to announce that we are on track to meet our energy savings targets and make up for any energy savings not realized in 2011."
This year's results will follow a comprehensive redesign that expanded opportunities for Wisconsin homes and businesses to participate in the program. Enhancements included a new targeted program for small businesses and expanded energy savings opportunities for residents such as a refrigerator recycling program and year-round discounts for efficient lighting. Other program improvements include cutting up-front costs for residents participating in comprehensive home energy programs and recruiting a network of over 1,400 Wisconsin businesses as Trade Allies who help implement projects that cut energy use.