Evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V) is a set of practices and protocols to test the impact of energy efficiency measures, projects and programs. EM&V helps regulators ensure that energy efficiency program administrators are meeting their targets, ratepayer funds are being spent judiciously and that EE programs are cost-effective. Non-regulated efficiency providers conduct EM&V to ensure that their customers are receiving the intended benefits from energy efficiency projects.
Program administrators rely on three major categories of EM&V: quasi-experimental methods (such as randomized controlled trials), project-based measurement and verification and deemed savings. The use of deemed savings, or stipulated metrics associated with well-understood energy efficiency measures, is particularly prevalent. Where deemed savings are used, they are often documented in a Technical Reference Manual (TRM).
New data analytics technologies allow for measurement of savings at the meter, called EM&V 2.0 and can be deployed with or without advanced metering.
Net Savings v. Gross Savings
When evaluating the savings attributed to ratepayer-funded efficiency programs, policymakers must decide whether to consider net or gross energy savings. Gross savings are the change in energy demand attributed to an energy efficiency program for actions taken by customers, regardless of whether the program influenced the customer to take the action or not. Net savings are the subset of the gross savings that are directly attributable to an energy efficiency program. For a discussion of the pertinent issues concerning each approach to accounting for savings, see MEEA’s report on the subject.
Summary of Net vs. Gross in the Midwest
|State||Net or Gross Reported|
|Nebraska||Varies by utility|
|North Dakota||No program reporting has been identified|
|South Dakota||Varies by utility|
Cost Effectiveness Tests
EM&V feed into utility and regulator assessments of energy efficiency program cost-effectiveness. The tests that are traditionally used in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency programs, originated in the California Public Utility Commission’s Standard Practice Manual, last updated in 2001. These tests – known as PAC, TRC, SCT, PCT and RIM – are listed below. The PAC, TRC and SCT are typically used for primary screening of energy efficiency programs, while the other tests may be used for secondary considerations.
More recently, the National Standard Practice Manual (NSPM), published in 2017, sets forth principles and a framework for states to develop or update their primary cost-effectiveness test based on their own jurisdiction’s applicable policy goals. The NSPM calls this test the Resource Value Test (RVT), also listed below. The NSPM also provides guidance on valuing relevant costs and benefits, and on a range of testing parameters including discount rates. Advocates and policymakers have referenced the NSPM in states around the country, including in MEEA states. Although it focuses on energy efficiency resources, its principles can also be applied to supply-side and distributed energy resources.
Comparison of Cost-Effectiveness Tests
Resource Value Test (RVT)
- Perspective: Regulator / decision-makers
- Key Question Answered: Will utility system costs be reduced, while achieving applicable policy goals?
- Categories of Costs and Benefits Included: The utility system costs and benefits, plus those costs and benefits associated with achieving relevant applicable policy goals
Program Administrator Cost Test (PAC)
- Perspective: The utility system
- Key Question Answered: Will utility system costs be reduced?
- Categories of Costs and Benefits Included: The costs and benefits experienced by the utility system
- Also knows as the Utility Cost Test, UCT
Total Resource Cost Test (TRC)
- Perspective: The utility system plus participating customers
- Key Question Answered: Will utility system costs plus program participants’ costs be reduced?
- Categories of Costs and Benefits Included: The costs and benefits experienced by the utility system, plus costs and benefits to program participants
Societal Cost Test (SCT)
- Perspective: Society as a whole
- Key Question Answered: Will total costs to society be reduced?
- Categories of Costs and Benefits Included: The costs and benefits experienced by society as a whole
Participant Cost Test (PCT)
- Perspective: Customers who participate in the energy efficiency program
- Key Question Answered: Will the participant’s costs be reduced?
- Categories of Costs and Benefits Included: Costs and benefits to program participants
Ratepayer Impact Measure (RIM)
- Perspective: All utility customers, including participants and non-participants
- Key Question Answered: What will happen to customer rates due to the efficiency program?
- Categories of Costs and Benefits Included: Compares utility revenues and operating costs from the efficiency program, including utility incentives
Summary of Cost-Effectiveness Testing in the Midwest
|State||Primary Test||Other Tests Used|
|Indiana||TRC||PAC, PCT, RIM|
|Iowa||SCT||PAC, PCT, RIM|
|Kansas||TRC||PAC, PCT, SCT, RIM|
|Kentucky||TRC||PAC, PCT, RIM|
|Michigan||PAC||TRC, PCT, SCT, RIM|
|Minnesota||SCT||PAC, PCT, RIM|
|Missouri||TRC||PCT, SCT, RIM|
|South Dakota||Varies||TRC, RIM, PAC, SCT, PCT|
EM&V at the Regional and National Level
A number of regional and national efforts are attempting to create a more standardized approach to EM&V. In the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) convened a regional EM&V Forum. NEEP is bringing together stakeholders "to support the development and use of consistent protocols to evaluate, measure, verify and report the savings, costs and emission impacts of energy efficiency and other demand-side resources." Building on the efforts in the Northeast, the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) has launched the Uniform Methods Project to "establish easy-to-follow protocols based on commonly accepted engineering and statistical methods for determining gross savings for a core set of commonly deployed energy efficiency measures." In addition, U.S. DOE is also addressing EM&V protocols through the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEEAction) Evaluation, Measurement and Verification Working Group.