CELC Agrees: Demonstration is the Key to Energy Efficiency Business

Over the last year, the Clean Energy Leadership Council – created by the state legislature – has been working to “develop strategies and recommendations for growing Washington’s clean energy sector and positioning Washington State as a national leader in clean energy development and policy.” After lots of analysis and outreach, they’ve released their draft strategy, and it seems to be a very nice fit with the BETI business plan.

For those of you that haven’t been intimately following the Metropolitan Business Plan project that we’ve been working on, the Building Energy-Efficiency Testing and Integration (BETI) Center and Demonstration Network is a proposed catalyzing project to improve the ability of our region’s energy efficiency goods and services providers to sell to customers throughout the country and the world.  BETI will specifically focus on verifying and launching new energy demand management software and technology, from smart meters to ICT enabled HVAC systems.  And a big part of that work will happen through our proposed demonstration network:

By developing relationships with owners and operators of residential, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings across Washington’s many diverse climates (from rainforest to desert), the BETI Demonstration Network will provide
opportunities for verification of energy efficiency savings through the field testing of products, configurations and services in “real world” conditions. BETI will facilitate the installation of these new products, configurations and services – focusing on building energy management software and automation technology –and then monitor their performance over time and in varying conditions.

Similarly, the CELC strategy states that “Undertaking large-scale pilot or demonstration applications of clean energy solutions applied in new ways will reveal how best to solve current challenges in existing markets and pathways to meet performance, environmental and economic/financial goals. Such leading-edge demonstrations provide Washington-based companies with “reference” projects that can attract global attention and opportunities beyond state boundaries.” (emphasis added)

In the BETI business plan, we refer to the need for reference projects as a “first-buyer problem,” but it’s the same concept – that you need to show that your new technology really works before customers will want to get in line; people want to be “first to be second” for innovations. And the CELC plan goes further to highlight the exact focus of BETI:

Demonstrate the potential deeper levels of energy savings of large scale, leading-edge combination energy efficiency, green building and smart grid applications – This initiative will inform utilities, regulators, and electric consumers of the types of savings that can be achieved using leading-edge solutions rather than deploying less-effective known measures and programs. (emphasis added…again)

Instead of “less-effective known measures,” read “changing out the windows, light bulbs and insulation. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing those things, but they’re neither big job creators (since we don’t make most of that stuff here) nor are they going to generate the kinds of deep efficiencies needed to reach our energy conservation goals. It’s the “smart + efficient” goods and services that can truly get there, and these are the goods and services that are produced by Washington companies.

The CELC strategy goes on to talk about funding projects that meet their goals, but that’s a topic for another day. In the meantime, it’s just nice to see that other folks are on the same page with what we think the answer is.

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