Tracking the PACE of household energy usage: Energy usage impacts of projects financed through Property Assessed Clean Energy programs in California
This report examines the household-level energy impacts of residential property assessed clean energy (R-PACE) projects using normalized metered energy consumption methods. Our analysis covers projects that occurred through an R-PACE program between 2009 and 2017 and includes more than 25,000 electricity meters and 15,000 gas meters. We employ a comparison group, drawn from other R-PACE households with similar locational and usage characteristics whose projects were implemented at different times, to control for some non-project and non-weather factors that may impact energy use.
We find that projects consisting of energy efficiency technologies save, on average, about 3% of household electricity usage and 3.5% of household gas usage. R-PACE financing, however, can be used to install central heating or air conditioning equipment for the first time. These projects would be expected to increase energy consumption. Since our data do not directly indicate which projects are new installations, we develop a simple algorithm for identifying them. Removing these inferred installation projects yields average savings of about 5% for electricity and 6% for gas for those households that remain in the sample. Given the mild California climate and the results of another study of similar California projects using similar methods, these results are in line with expectations. Solar PV projects yield large reductions in grid electricity use, averaging 69% of household consumption.
We estimate that, collectively, all R-PACE projects installed in California through 2019 would generate annual reductions in grid-tied electricity consumption of 506 GWh (mostly due to solar PV) and gas consumption reductions of 2 million therms in a normal weather year. These impacts are equivalent to the electricity consumption of about 74,000 California households (including both efficiency and PV generation) and the gas consumption of about 4700 California households.