Who Should Administer Energy-Efficiency Programs?
The restructuring of the electric utility industry in the US created a crisis in the administration of ratepayer-funded energy-efficiency programs. Before restructuring, nearly all energy-efficiency programs in the US were administered by utilities and funded from utility rates. Restructuring called these arrangements into question in two ways. First, the separation of generation from transmission and distribution undermined a key rationale for utility administration. This was the Integrated Resource Planning approach in which the vertically integrated utility was given incentives to provide energy services at least cost. Second, questions were raised as to whether funding through utility rates could be sustained in a competitive environment and most states that restructured their electricity industry adopted a system benefits charge. The crisis in administration of energy-efficiency programs produced a variety of responses in the eight years since restructuring in the US began in earnest. These responses have included new rationales for energy-efficiency programs, new mechanisms for funding programs, and new mechanisms for program administration and governance. This paper focuses on issues related to program administration. It describes the administrative functions and some of the options for accomplishing them. Then it discusses criteria for choosing among the options. Examples are given that highlight some of the states that have made successful transitions to new governance and/or administration structures. Attention is also given to California where large-scale energy-efficiency programs have continued to operate, despite the fact that many of the key governance/administration issues remain unresolved. The conclusion attempts to summarise lessons learned.