2018 - present

The Challenge

The energy efficiency landscape continues to rapidly change as opportunities shrink and goals become more aggressive. APTIM, the administrator of Wisconsin’s successful Focus on Energy program, needed to infuse innovation into its efficiency portfolio, ensuring it meets changing goals.

The Solution

VEIC partnered with APTIM to provide analytics, assessment, and to establish innovative pilot programs, informing new strategies and investments to evolve the portfolio for future success. Services: Energy Efficiency

The Impact

In 2019, VEIC advanced new midstream solutions and a behavior pilot, in addition to identifying opportunities to optimize residential and business efficiency programs. Collectively, in partnership with APTIM and program implementers, Focus on Energy met 2019 kWh, therms, and MMBtu savings goals and had a strong start to 2020.

The cost of energy efficiency program success

Energy efficiency programs throughout the U.S. have successfully harvested the low-hanging fruit, modernizing inefficient heating, cooling, and lighting systems. The results have been tremendous, as traditional efficiency programs have yielded very high rates of energy savings. But this success comes with a cost.

As the benefits of energy efficiency programs become well-known, real and impactful innovation becomes harder to achieve and new technologies/solutions merit further exploration. Less expensive efficient products and gradually increasing federal lighting and efficiency standards have converged with more progressive building codes and ever-increasing energy savings goals. These factors challenge the way that we define success with conventional efficiency tactics, and despite all the work that still needs to be done, the status quo of traditional energy efficiency programs may soon be insufficient to address future needs.

In the face of these headwinds, APTIM, the administrator of Wisconsin’s energy efficiency program — Focus on Energy —partnered with VEIC to infuse innovation into the state’s energy efficiency portfolio, ensuring it anticipates the needs of tomorrow.

Known for piloting new approaches — and developing data-driven strategies and analytics needed to support and validate them — VEIC is a proven leader in energy efficiency innovation. That’s why we were selected to team up on an already-successful program in Wisconsin, alongside a partner that was not satisfied with the status quo.

Our partnership with VEIC has allowed us to grow the Focus on Energy programs that help Wisconsin residents and businesses reduce their energy use and save money on their utility bills. Their experience with emerging technology has helped us take our energy efficiency programs to the next level with a focus on sustainable energy innovation. ”

Lisa Stefanik
Director, APTIM

How will Wisconsin continue to meet clean energy goals in the future?

Riding a wave of success, APTIM has delivered more than $1 billion in economic benefits to Wisconsin since 2011. Independent evaluation estimates that every dollar invested in Focus on Energy has generated $4.32-worth of benefits to the state. At the time when APTIM partnered with VEIC, Focus on Energy had been (and still is) a home run by all accounts, with participant satisfaction rating 9/10, the highest in its history. The program serves the vast majority of utility customers in the state (107 utilities), offering solutions for every type of customer while simultaneously addressing utility needs.

VEIC was called in not to save a troubled efficiency program, but to forge ahead, beyond the known pathways of energy savings. Acting as Market Trends & Analytics lead for Focus on Energy, VEIC provides analytics, portfolio assessment, and pilot program support. In this role, we inform new strategies and investments that help the program evolve to meet the demands of changing market conditions.

In its letter selecting the APTIM and VEIC team, Wisconsin’s Statewide Energy Efficiency and Renewables Administration (SEERA) cited the “added depth and breadth with the addition of VEIC’s expertise on behavioral and emerging technology.” SEERA also highlighted the team’s, “comprehensive vision for Focus in the next quadrennium, including greater attention to the changing utility landscape and a better customer experience.”

VEIC coordinated the launch of a Rural Behavior Community Engagement Pilot in 2019 and has already laid the groundwork for strategies that will bring new programs, products, and services to the market through 2022.

Proactive clean energy program planning cements past success

Conventional efficiency tactics have proven to be very effective, saving both energy and money while reducing the amount of energy generated from fossil fuels. And there are still many homes and businesses that could greatly benefit from some basic efficiency work. What were once cutting-edge improvements in insulation, lighting, grid management and electrification may no longer be cutting edge, but they are still needed, as full-scale implementation is still a work in progress.

If efficiency programs expect to continue the work that they have started, they will need to anticipate the changing needs of customers, utilities, policy makers, and a range of other stakeholders. VEIC offers the services that efficiency programs need to stay ahead of the curve — from external market scans to identifying key trends and best practices, we are a leader in forward-focused research, development, prototyping, and pilot testing.

As VEIC’s partnership with APTIM continues, so does Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program, which just successfully met 2019 kWh, therms and MMBtu savings goals, while establishing new pathways for innovation into the next decade and beyond.

This project's team leaders

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Bridget French
Senior Consultant
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Scott Semroc
Senior Analyst