Quantitative Financial Analysis of Alternative Energy Efficiency Shareholder Incentive Mechanisms
Rising energy prices and climate change are central issues in the debate about our nation's energy policy. Many are demanding increased energy efficiency as a way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower the total cost of electricity and energy services for consumers and businesses. Yet, as the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPEE) pointed out, many utilities continue to shy away from seriously expanding their energy efficiency program offerings because they claim there is insufficient profit-motivation, or even a financial disincentive, when compared to supply-side investments. With the recent introduction of Duke Energy's Save-a-Watt incentive mechanism and ongoing discussions about decoupling, regulators and policymakers are now faced with an expanded and diverse landscape of financial incentive mechanisms, Determining the "right" way forward to promote deep and sustainable demand side resource programs is challenging. Due to the renaissance that energy efficiency is currently experiencing, many want to better understand the tradeoffs in stakeholder benefits between these alternative incentive structures before aggressively embarking on a path for which course corrections can be time-consuming and costly. Using a prototypical Southwest utility2 and a publicly available financial model, we show how various stakeholders (e.g. shareholders, ratepayers, etc.) are affected by these different types of shareholder incentive mechanisms under varying assumptions about program portfolios. This quantitative analysis compares the financial consequences associated with a wide range of alternative incentive structures. The results will help regulators and policymakers better understand the financial implications of DSR program incentive regulation.