The Role Of The Metering Industry: In Addressing Environmental Problems


By Steve Kromer

Multiple programmes are underway around the globe to manage energy use and its environmental impacts. How can the metering industry leverage its core strengths to become a leader in providing ‘settlement’ services for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions, White certificates and performance contracts?

The long story of the development of measurement and verification (M&V) protocols for energy saving and environmental impacts continues to unfold. While developments in this niche market may not be as rapid as in other areas of high tech, such as smart meters, constant progress is opening up new opportunities for metering companies to establish and deliver value-added services.

Perhaps the largest single element of the energy efficiency M&V industry is dedicated to evaluating the results of utility demand side management (DSM) programmes.

Growth in the demand for education in the art and science of M&V is also evident, with training courses in M&V now being given around the world. There is also a growing market demand for accredited M&V professionals.

A trained cadre of certified experts and an informed and cooperative metering industry can combine to be a powerful force to induce change in the global energy infrastructure.

For the foreseeable future there will be a range of programmes deployed to help address energy and environmental issues. All will require some form of measurement that leads to a statement of performance and the ultimate settlement of a transaction.

Programme evaluation
Worldwide growth in utility DSM programmes has created an increased need for evaluation of these programmes. In California alone, the evaluation budget for the next three years is in the tens of millions of dollars, and across the US it is of the order of $100 million.

Greenhouse gases
International programmes to reduce carbon emissions resulting from the Kyoto Protocol continue to grow. The largest of these programmes is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Transactions under the CDM are occurring, but the costs are high. A recent article in the New York Times (December 21, 2006) pointed to high transaction costs, partially due to the cost of verifying reductions, as an impediment to the widespread adoption of emission trading programmes. Standard measurement protocols and a well trained, competitive M&V service industry can help reduce these costs.

White certificates
Long discussed, and recently deployed in the European Union and the US, White certificates promise to allow the market to identify and develop the most cost effective efficiency measures within a region or economy. They may become an important tool in Efficiency Portfolio Standards and country-level goal achievement. A critical element for success is a cost effective M&V capability.

Performance contracts

Two-party contracts for identifying, developing, financing and capturing energy savings, often called Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs), are an important part of the energy management industry. ESPCs are a tool in many government toolboxes for achieving their energy efficiency goals on a limited budget. M&V is often the critical issue in the long term success of these contracts.

In the US one can find a range of GHG, White certificate, utility DSM programmes, and performance contracts in any one state, let alone across all 50. A current initiative, The National Energy Action Plan in the US, seeks to harmonise state, regional and federal methodologies for savings assessment.

All of the above energy efficiency applications require some form of measurement and verification that can lead to cost effective settlement of the savings. Who will perform this critical function? What training and expertise is required to create and manage cost effective M&V?

For the past four years, the Efficiency Valuation Organization (EVO), in conjunction with the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), has been offering an examination and credential review process (for North America) that certifies professionals who have achieved a standard level of expertise on M&V. There are currently 350 CMVPs in the US and Canada.

EVO conducts training at various levels around the world. Training is currently planned for the USA and Canada (with AEE), Taiwan, India and Brazil. EVO encourages M&V training and is developing a growing list of qualified M&V trainers around the world to assist in the task.

However, to date this training and certification process touches only lightly on the metering technologies. Proper meter location and appropriate use of the metered data are primary challenges of ‘measuring’ something that doesn’t exist (saved energy or water use).

While interesting, and potentially important, the developments listed above will not obtain near their potential impact without significant involvement from the metering industry.

The role of EVO
EVO is leading efforts around the globe to bring standards and credibility to energy and water saving transactions. Discussions have been held recently with two global metering companies to investigate incorporating modelling and analysis into metering software. Meters would then not only report actual use, but could also report ‘avoided use’. By ‘certifying’ algorithms that calculate the consumption of energy that would have resulted without an energy efficiency measure, EVO helps the metering industry play a key role in the ‘measurement’ of savings.

Call to arms for the metering industry
As the experts in the identification, collection, storage and analysis of energy data, the metering industry can be a leader in developing solutions to energy efficiency and environmental transactions. In seeking to create global solutions to the issue of efficiency valuation, EVO welcomes all who wish to share in its Mission.

The metering industry is poised to be a leader in developing and conducting transaction analysis for energy and environmental solutions. However, the industry cannot wait for governments and institutions to set the standards for these transactions. While a single solution to every problem is years away, the measurement and savings measurement industries can work together now to their mutual benefit and that of the environment, by promoting standards which increase the quality and reduce the cost of efficiency valuation.