EPE Week: Jane Peters on Engagement in the Field of Energy Evaluation

My name is Jane Peters, and I am the owner of a 19 person firm in Portland Oregon that conducts process and market evaluations of energy efficiency, renewable energy program and other resource conserving programs. I am a 20-year member of AEA and a board member of the International Energy Program Evaluation Conference (IEPEC), which holds a biannual conference on energy program evaluation. I have been doing energy program evaluation since the early 1980s and have seen interest in energy efficiency wax and wane several times. Today, energy efficiency is a top-of-mind issue and evaluation for energy programs is a growth field.

Energy program evaluation functions in a regulatory environment. Regulators set the policies that provide the funds for energy programs and typically require evaluations to assess program saving impacts and make recommendations to improve the program cost effectiveness. Regulators are very busy and most do not have a deep understanding of evaluation, as a consequence many tend to have high expectations for evaluation.

Hot Tip: Outreach and inclusion of regulators increases their understanding of evaluation. The IEPEC does outreach to regulators about IEPEC conferences, provides funding for regulators to attend the conference, sponsors panels at each conference including regulators, and including at least one regulator on the planning committee. This approach brings those who really need evaluations to see how as one of my colleagues says “the sausage is made.” They hear of various methodological issues that contribute to confusing results and learn of programs that are being effective.

This intentional strategy of engagement has been beneficial to evaluators who learn more of the regulatory point of view and to regulators who become more cognizant of the challenges and opportunities of program evaluation.

Hot Tip and Invitation: To learn more about energy program evaluation visit www.iepec.org. For over 25 years energy program evaluators have wrestled with issues of estimation of gross and net savings, how to improve energy programs, how to reach different audiences as well as barriers and opportunities to adoption of energy efficient equipment and behaviors. To help new energy program evaluators be effective, the IEPEC has posted electronic copies of all papers that have been published in conference proceedings since 1999; earlier conference proceedings may be posted in the near future.

Funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy is increasing and is likely to continue to grow in the future. Because this is policy based, opportunities for evaluators to engage with energy programs will expand along with the funding.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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