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Life After Lighting: How Utilities Should Retool Their Energy Efficiency Portfolios (white paper)

Recently, there has been federal activity at the Department of Energy (“DOE”) regarding general service lighting (“GSL”), the Energy Independence and Security Act (“EISA”) efficiency standard, and the 45 lumen per watt backstop for GSL. This activity creates for a timely opportunity for MCR to revisit standards, lighting, and “Life After Lighting” for utilities and their EE programs. In a new, short paper we share:

  • What actions DOE has taken recently
  • The situation with respect to lighting within utility EE portfolios
  • A brief review baselines and standards, using lighting as an example
  • Recommendations and MCR’s framework for acting on them
Download the paper on life after lighting


Environmental Advocates Have Proposed a Sweeping New Approach to Regulating Utility Capital Investments and Earnings (News Alert)

On August 19, 2020, the organization E4TheFuture, whose mission is to “promote residential clean energy and sustainable resource solutions to advance climate protection and economic fairness by influencing… policies,” released a new publication titled, “National Standard Practice Manual for Benefit-Cost Analysis of Distributed Energy Resources” (“NPSM for DER”). Under the direction of E4TheFuture, advocacy-oriented firms such as Synapse Energy Economics and Energy Futures Group, as well as the agenda-driven Smart Electric Power Alliance, authored this manual. E4TheFuture is working with regulatory commissions and other stakeholders to encourage adoption of the ideas presented in the NSPM for DER; if embraced by policy and regulatory actions, the NSPM for DER will dramatically affect how electric and gas utilities plan, make investments and create earnings.

Download the news alert to read implications of the NPSM for DER for utility regulation and corporate strategy.

EE Cost Effectiveness Where You Least Expect It (white paper)

MCR discusses how some principles of EE cost effectiveness, influenced by the National Standard Practice Manual, are showing up in a wide range of regulatory proceedings and processes, driven by the shared agenda of a coordinated group of intervenors and their consultants. In this paper, MCR introduces the issue and starts to answer the question, “What’s a utility to do?”

Download the paper on EE cost effectiveness


Pilots for the Changing World of Energy Efficiency (thought piece)

The challenges, demands, and scope of utility energy efficiency (EE) programming are all rapidly changing, bringing a need for real innovation. All parties designing and approving EE plans have been focused on the problem of how to make up for energy and demand savings no longer available from screw-in LED and other lighting, but there are other factors making innovation an imperative. In this piece, we take a look at how MCR combines regulatory and stakeholder expertise with cross-cutting EE services to ensure innovation continues to be successfully developed and implemented at our utility clients.

Download the MCR thought piece.

Revisiting Evolutions in Utility Planning, Programs and Regulation (white paper)

In 2016, MCR’s white paper, “A Case Study in Evolving Utility Planning, Programs and Regulation: Missouri” highlighted two important Missouri Public Service Commission (“Commission”) proceedings about:

  • The Ameren Cycle 2 Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act (“MEEIA”)
  • Generically, decoupling

These proceedings were heavily influenced by energy and environmental intervenors to shape a new future for utility energy efficiency (“EE”) programming and the broader universe of alternatives to central station generation, transmission and distribution investment in Missouri.

In this paper, we revisit the conclusions we made in the original paper and consider the effects they’re having in Missouri as well as across the nation today.

Download the white paper on utility planning, programs and regulation.

Beyond the Hype: A real-life example of gaining insights from AMI interval data (white paper)

Contrary to the widespread promises of advanced metering infrastructure (“AMI”) deployment and the resultant analysis of “big data,” the industry has little to show for the investment, at least in terms of actionable insights from the data. While there are challenges in managing the huge amounts of data (particularly interval meter data) from an analytic point of view, the main problem may be the lack of actionable hypotheses for the data—that is, the lack of concrete questions that if answered, would result in actions taken to benefit the system and its customers. Stakeholders, often including the regulator, tend to misunderstand what it really takes to define the right types of questions to ask and then harness the potential that large-scale access to interval meter data may bring to answer them.

In this light, MCR has developed processes to manage, analyze, and create useful information for utilities that have deployed AMI or other means of collecting interval data on large populations of customers. Here, we share a framework and offer a real-life example focusing on customer-level and distribution system-level impacts of energy efficiency (“EE”) measure and behavioral interventions.

Download the white paper on AMI interval data

MCR Energy Efficiency Experts to Speak at Healthcare Industry Forum (press release)

DEERFIELD, IL, February 15, 2019: MCR Performance Solutions, LLC, a leading management consulting firm serving electric, natural gas and water utilities, will be participating in the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance’s Healthcare Industry Forum on Energy Efficiency on March 5-6 in State College, Pennsylvania. This event reviews the energy efficiency opportunities unique to the healthcare industry and provides tools to achieve real energy savings.

Tom Crooks, Vice President of MCR’s Energy Efficiency practice, Cindy Menhorn, Vice President of MCR’s Regulatory Services practice, and Dave Defide, Manager of Customer Programs at Duquesne Light Company, will facilitate a presentation on Combined Heat and Power (CHP) for the Healthcare Industry on Wednesday, March 6 at 10:30 am. Healthcare administrators and managers will learn how to study, document, analyze and implement a successful CHP project within the context of a utility’s approved Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan.

“We are very pleased to be a part of this Healthcare Industry Forum and to assist the healthcare customers within Duquesne Light in support of their CHP projects,” Defide said in anticipation of participating in the upcoming forum.

About MCR’s Energy Efficiency Practice

MCR’s Energy Efficiency practice works with electric, gas and water utilities who plan and implement energy efficiency programs. MCR specializes in helping our clients go beyond meeting their energy efficiency regulatory obligations, leveraging the requirements into opportunities to promote better relationships with their customers. Through our consulting assignments, we help our clients navigate the complex energy efficiency business and avoid the common pitfalls and expensive mistakes experienced by many of their peers. We make our clients successful in their efforts to save energy for their customers, improve their customer relationships, optimize the value of their investments and defend their projects and programs against challenging regulatory scrutiny.

About MCR Performance Solutions, LLC

MCR is a management consulting firm specializing in the electric, natural gas and water utility industries. MCR helps clients achieve superior performance through innovative and effective solutions in their strategies, operations, processes, finances, forecasting, organizational designs, economics, testimony, and business cases. Our practices include Energy Efficiency, Regulatory Services, Transmission Strategy, Financial Advisory, and Nuclear Generation. For more information, please visit


Media contact

Nilsa Sweetser

Cost-Effectiveness Testing is the Battlefield of Utilities’ Future (thought piece)

Cost-effectiveness is widely understood as the single biggest factor in determining what energy efficiency (“EE”) investments, both traditional (e.g., use of rebates, direct install programs, etc.) and innovative (e.g., use of distributed energy resources, customer engagement programs, etc.), should be made by a utility and whether such investments will be acceptable to utility regulators. Yet at the same time, the calculation of cost-effectiveness is among the least consistent and most contentious parts of the utility energy efficiency review, approval and compliance reporting processes.

Download the thought piece on cost effectiveness to find out why and where to go from here

Avoided Gas Costs – The Key to Success in Energy Efficiency and More (white paper)

Low gas prices present a significant challenge to justifying gas energy efficiency (“EE”) programs, since the primary benefit of gas EE, as calculated in a cost effectiveness test, is the avoided gas cost. Given the critical role avoided gas costs play in cost effectiveness tests, we might have expected by now that the industry (i.e., regulators, advocates and EE planners) would have settled on one universally accepted approach to calculating avoided gas costs. But the industry hasn’t, creating an environment where the approach taken to avoided costs may not be aligned with a utility’s objectives and situation.

Four alternative avoided gas cost methodologies are in use today. Which method does your utility currently use? Which approach should your utility be using? Read the full paper to learn about the different approaches, their relative strengths and weaknesses, and strategic questions for utilities to ask when choosing their preferred approach.

Download the white paper on avoided gas costs

Is it Time to Start Running Energy Efficiency as a Business? (thought piece)

New York’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” or “REV” seeks a great many changes to the way utilities do business and how distribution systems and the buildings connected to them work. Thus far, most of the discussion of REV in the literature has focused on utility earnings incentives and treatment of energy efficiency (EE) as any other distributed energy resource for the purpose of avoiding distribution system investments.

Recently under REV, one of the more interesting changes involving EE has emerged whereby EE will evolve from a regulatory compliance exercise with dedicated cost recovery mechanisms to a core element of the utility’s business and a part of base rates. The challenge here is: How do utilities analyze EE investment options to fit within their business planning, budgeting and ratemaking processes and simultaneously address their state EE regulatory requirements?

Download the thought piece on running energy efficiency as a business

A Case Study in Evolving Utility Planning, Programs and Regulation: Missouri (white paper)

As energy efficiency programming and the closely related issue of distributed energy rapidly change within the broader evolutions of the utility business model, two recent proceedings in Missouri raise fundamental questions for utilities nationwide. Together, the Missouri Public Service Commission’s 2015 generic decoupling proceeding and Ameren Missouri’s second Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act energy efficiency plan, approved earlier this year, speak to issues of rates and revenue, resource planning, and capital planning, as these issues are juxtaposed against sometimes misaligned or even competing mandates.

Download the Missouri white paper for MCR’s thoughts on how these proceedings might apply on a national level.

How to Develop a Winning Game Plan When Codes and Standards Keep Moving the Goal Posts (thought piece)

This summer, Ed Schmidt (Director of the Energy Efficiency practice at MCR) attended the Southern Gas Association’s Marketing, Customer Experience and Communications conference in San Antonio. A key topic of discussion was building and equipment codes and standards and the impact they have on energy efficiency (EE) program planning, performance and costs, as well as on non-EE sales and marketing oriented toward load retention and growth. In this follow-up paper, Ed explores the issues affecting EE and non-EE strategies, and develops five high-impact plays in a utility’s game plan to strategically address the issues of changing codes and standards.

Download the codes and standards paper

Optimizing Program EM&V Results at Duquesne Light Company (case study)

All energy efficiency professionals know it is challenging to design a portfolio of energy efficiency programs that will withstand tough scrutiny by third-party evaluators and achieve high realization rates. But, you can achieve that goal with high cost effectiveness if you follow our guideline: Programs designed to be measured … measure well. MCR’s case study explores the methods for creating a portfolio of programs that feature evaluation at the core of the program design.

Download the Duquesne Light Company EM&V case study

Effective C&I Gas Energy Efficiency Programming. Presentation to the SGA (presentation)

MCR presented “Effective C&I Gas EE Programming” at the 2014 Southern Gas Association Conference, where we discussed opportunities to invest in natural gas energy efficiency, enhanced approaches to shareholder return and advanced cost effectiveness tests that work in an environment of low natural gas commodity costs.

Download the C&I gas EE presentation

Energy Efficiency Program Management and Reporting Systems (white paper)

Running a portfolio of energy efficiency programs is a data intensive business. Baseline and replacement technologies, measure lives, deemed savings, budgets, program and cost effectiveness tests results: these represent a small sample of the energy efficiency business information. The users of this information are diverse and support a wide range of processes, including program management, regulatory reporting and customer relationship management.

Having accurate, timely and accessible data is critical to running an energy efficiency portfolio. However, MCR`s research suggests there is no standard set of data management strategies or software systems to manage this important business information. Instead, a wide range of incomplete solutions are being used across the industry.

Download the EE business management systems white paper