The Bulletin Board

Executive Council to consider contract with Colorado firm to monitor energy efficiency efforts

By: - August 3, 2021 1:33 pm
Power lines

Energy efficiency was “a constant and pervasive subject of discussion among everyone who works at the OCA,” according to Consumer Advocate Don Kreis. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

Evaluating and monitoring energy efficiency efforts is key in ensuring that the state’s program is delivering on its promises. A $284,683 contract that would pay a Colorado firm to verify that work is up for a vote before the Executive Council on Wednesday.

Consumer Advocate Don Kreis called the chosen firm, Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc., “the gold standard for this kind of work.” He said that overseeing what the utilities do is an expensive task that requires a lot of expertise, but it is crucial to verify.

“You have to put some kind of rigorous system in place to make sure that when an energy efficiency measure claims a certain number of kilowatt hours per year, that is, in fact, what is really happening,” he said.

If the contract is approved, that’s the work that Skumatz would undertake, with a budget of around $114,000 for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The amount would drop to about $57,000 in fiscal year 2024. The firm has been awarded a similar contract with the state of New Hampshire in the past, among other states, Kreis said.  

While the request for proposal, seeking bids for the project from companies like Skumatz, was issued by the Public Utilities Commission, it’s now being handled by the newly formed Department of Energy, which had its first day on July 1.

The state’s three-year energy efficiency plan, which was intended to go into effect at the start of 2021, is still delayed. The Department of Energy is now the agency responsible for failing to move the docket forward. That means energy efficiency programs are operating under budgets and assumptions from 2020, something Kreis called “a terrible idea.” Even so, evaluation, monitoring, and verification are still needed, which is what the contract with Skumatz would provide.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.

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