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VEIC talks zero net energy buildings, transportation at NASEO conference

Oct 04, 2013

VEIC recently traveled to Denver to share our perspectives on the topics of zero net energy buildings and integration of electric vehicles into long-range utility planning. Transportation Efficiency Director Karen Glitman, Managing Consultant Rebecca Foster, and Efficiency Vermont Strategy & Planning Director Jay Pilliod shared their insights with an audience of national energy leaders at the 2013 meeting of the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO).

Karen Glitman’s presentation was based on a paper NASEO commissioned from VEIC with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.  It explored the questions of if and how utility planners and regulators are accounting for electric vehicles as part of their Integrated Resource Plans and other long-range planning processes. In addition to analyzing current planning practices, the paper offers guidelines for how these large new electric loads – in essence, “appliances on wheels” – should be accounted for by electric system planners. Transportation is becoming an increasingly prominent part of the energy conversation, as witnessed by the fact that this year’s NASEO conference featured the first meeting of their Transportation Committee. The next phase of this project, due in early 2014, is the creation of a Technical Reference Manual for electric vehicle charging.

Rebecca Foster and Jay Pilliod both shared insights on the path to zero net energy homes.  Rebecca’s presentation focused on VEIC’s work designing the Climate Choice Homes Program in New Jersey. As part of this program, VEIC managed a Research and Development project to monitor the energy use and understand occupant behavior in 11 of the homes built to a super-efficient performance level. Key findings from that research noted the importance of occupant education and managing plug loads. Future directions for New Jersey point to a focus on more effectively linking New Jersey Clean Energy Program incentives for appliances, lighting, and electronics with the new construction program to ensure that both the homes and the energy-using equipment inside them are as efficient as possible.

Jay Pilliod discussed recent Vermont policy initiatives to promote high efficiency construction, in the context of the state’s overall goal for the source of its energy use to be 90% renewables by the year 2050. With support from Efficiency Vermont (which VEIC operates), the state is advancing policies that include an increased focus on zero net energy buildings in the residential and commercial markets; energy code and stretch code development and compliance plans; and statewide building labeling and benchmarking initiatives. Jay discussed some of the opportunities and challenges of “strategic electrification,” which contemplates a growing role for electricity in reducing the use of fossil fuels for heating and transportation.  The challenges of net-metering from the utility business model perspective were also explored as an important consideration in the strategic path toward “getting to zero”.
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