Oregon Lapsing Backward on Energy Efficiency

Drops from 4th to 7th from 2015 to 2016


2015 State Ranking for Oregon: 4th


The 2016 State Ranking

State Government
OREGON  Score: 5.5 out of 7

The state offers a variety of financial incentives for energy-efficient investments, including PACE financing. The state government leads by example by requiring energy-efficient public buildings, benchmarking energy use, and encouraging energy savings performance contracts. Researched focused on energy efficiency takes place at several institutions in the state.

Financial Incentives List All

Financial Incentive information for Oregon is provided by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE Oregon) and State Energy Office contacts. Information about additional incentives not present on DSIRE is listed here. In addition to the state-funded incentives on DSIRE and below, Oregon has enabled Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and has one active program. For additional information on PACE, visit PACENation.

Planning Assistance and Transportation and Growth Management Grants: 

The Department of Land Conservation and Development offers grants to local and tribal governments to complete projects that update and modernize comprehensive plans, land use ordinances, development codes and other planning regulations. The Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM) provides local governments with funding for planning projects that lead to more livable, economically vital, transportation-efficient, sustainable, pedestrian-friendly communities.
Last Updated: August 2016

Building Energy Disclosures  List All

Effective July 2014, Oregon approved three in-market systems to rate energy use and efficiency potential of new and existing homes. This 2013 legislation (HB 2801) built on a 2009 effort (SB 79) to add additional requirements to scoring systems and licensing for Home Energy Assessors. There is no requirement to score homes at point of sale – scoring is voluntary in the market. The expectation is that as values are documented for the benefits of scoring and subsequent retrofits, scoring will become more commonplace and the market will support a mandatory, time-of sale score. The Multiple Listing Services for the majority of the Oregon market accepts and posts each of the three approved scoring systems.                                                         
The three systems currently approved for use in Oregon include the USDOE Home Energy Score, RESNet Home Energy Rating System and Energy Trust of Oregon Energy Performance Score. Scores are asset based – energy models normalize the home’s energy use to typical occupant behavior. A stakeholder panel reviews systems seeking approval in Oregon, monitors approved systems and develops deployment approaches to strengthen scoring/disclosure in the market.
Last Updated: July 2016

Public Building Requirements  List All

The mandated State Energy Efficiency Design Program (SEED) requires that all state facilities constructed on or after June 30, 2001 exceed the energy conservation provisions of the Oregon State Building Code by at least 20 percent. Existing buildings must reduce energy use by 20 percent compared to the building’s baseline energy use in 2000 by June 30, 2015.

They reached that goal in calendar year 2012.

In 2013, the Governor’s 10-Year Energy Action Plan set an additional target of 20 percent reduction by 2023. Agencies are working toward that goal now via benchmarking and comparisons with the Buildings Performance Database. State-owned facilities over 5,000 square feet and meeting certain energy use thresholds are required to report into Portfolio Manager. The largest agencies have implemented two-year Strategic Energy Management initiatives, with an emphasis on building-level data to effectively prioritize retrofits. 

As of January 2015, 20 state agencies are using EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager to report data. 

ORS 276.900 requires state facilities to be constructed or purchased by authorized state agencies be designed, constructed, renovated and operated so as to minimize the use of nonrenewable energy resources and to serve as models of energy efficiency. University system policy requires that new construction in the higher education system meet LEED silver standards. 

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services policy 107-011-010 directs state agencies to report their energy use to the Oregon Department of Energy. ODOE uses a web-based electronic database system. The State Energy Use Database allows state agencies to enter their energy use data directly into the database on a monthly basis. Agencies can compare their current energy use with that of the base year (2000) or any year of their choosing and can compare energy use indices and check whether mandatory energy savings have been achieved.

ODOE pulls reports from the database to prepare a biennial State Energy Efficient Design report to the State Legislature as required by ORS 276.915(9). SEED was originally established in 1991 as a result of Oregon State law, ORS 276.900-915. This law directs state agencies to work with the Oregon Department of Energy to ensure cost-effective energy conservation measures are included in new and renovated public buildings. 

Schools in Portland General Electric and Pacific Power territory also report their energy use to ODOE as part of the public purpose charge program (1999). The school district staff must gather information from their utility bills before audits can be performed on their schools and before entering Energy Usage Index information into the secure, online School Interactive Database. 

Last Updated: July 2016

Fleets List All

There are several efficiency policies for the state vehicle fleet. The Oregon Department of Administrative Service’s Statewide Fleet Management Policy (#107-009-040) has two relevant sections:

  • Regarding the efficient and economical use of state vehicles, underutilized vehicles are subject to reassignment or sale, and high-efficiency vehicles are prioritized for high-usage scenarios, where their comparative efficiency produces the greatest gains. 
  • For purchasing new vehicles, a mandatory Total Cost of Ownership analysis prioritizes alternative-fuel or Hybrid vehicles meeting the 1992 Energy Policy Act (EPACT) requirements, followed by Low-Emission II standard gas vehicles, and then standard gas vehicles.
  • The state fleet motor pool also has a dispatch prioritization policy that recommends Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) to those commuting within the rated distance of the NGV tank. In other words, if you are driving to a destination for state business that is within the range that one tank of natural gas, then the state employee, absent a special request, is assigned an NGV.

Last Updated: July 2016

Energy Savings Performance Contracting  List All

Oregon offers a number of financial incentives to promote ESPCs, including a loan program to help minimize interest rates and fees imposed by ESCOs and a business energy tax credit that limits/postpones tax burdens on energy efficiency products.

The Oregon Department of Energy maintains a number of resources, including a list of prequalified ESCOs and a detailed guide to the process for users. ESCOs audits for K-12 Public Schools qualify for reimbursement under the SB 1149 funded Energy Efficient Schools program, if they are carried out to that standard. There are different rules for state agencies, who must also comply with State Energy Efficient Design (SEED) statutory requirements (ORS 276.900) when seeking to use an ESPC for a project. 

Last Updated: July 2016

Research & Development  List All

The Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center (BEST) is an independent, nonprofit organization established by the Oregon legislature to help Oregon businesses compete globally by transforming and commercializing university research into new technologies, services, products, and companies. BEST shares research facilities for study of energy-efficient buildings as well as providing energy-efficiency research grants.

The University of Oregon Energy Studies in Building Laboratory conducts research on buildings and related transportation to develop strategies for maximum energy efficiency in new materials, components, assemblies, and whole buildings. .

The Baker Lighting Lab at University of Oregon provides support and opportunities for the exploration of light design ideas.  Among other facets, itstudies daylighting and the control of these systems.

Portland State University’s Renewable Energy Research Labconducts sustainable urban development research, which covers smart grid development and net-zero energy use.  The Lab is a joint University-Portland General Electric (PGE) project, established in 2010 with $50,000 in funding from the utility.

The Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable energy. In the area of energy efficiency, the Trust runs programs to field test emerging technologies.

The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) is a university transportation center, based at Portland State University. It is a partnership between Portland State University, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and the Oregon Institute of Technology. The group supports innovation through advanced technology, integration of land use and transportation, and healthy communities. OTREC has teamed up with Portland-based Green Lite Motors to bring a 100 mile-per-gallon vehicle closer to market. 

Last Updated: July 2016

Utilities   Score: 11.5 out of 20
Utilities Summary List All

Oregon is a leading state in energy efficiency, with programs dating back to the 1980s.

Oregon energy utilities were first required to offer residential weatherization assistance to their customers by the 1981 Residential Energy Conservation Act. In 1989, the Oregon Public Utility Commission’s (OPUC’s) Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) Order No. 89-507 required the utilities to consider energy efficiency as a resource when developing plans.  

Oregon’s 1999 restructuring law, SB 1149, established a public purpose charge to support electric energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-income programs.

The public purpose charge is equal to 3% of the total revenues collected by the utilities and provides about $60 million per year for the electric programs. 

The Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), a nonprofit organization established by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) in 2002, administers most of the statewide energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. Portland General Electric implements revenue per customer. In its first ever long-range strategic plan, the Energy Trust of Oregon laid out energy savings goals between 2010 and 2014 of 256 average megawatts (2,242.6 GWh) of electricity and 22.5 million annual therms of natural gas.

NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas adopted public purpose funding for natural gas energy efficiency programs anddecoupling mechanisms in Order Nos. 02-634 and 06-191, respectively. Avista Utilities’ natural gas programs are funded through deferred accounts. Average expenditures for the natural gas programs are $10-$12 million per year. The ETO administers the majority of the statewide natural gas energy efficiency programs.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Customer Energy Efficiency Programs  List All

The majority of Oregon’s energy customers (73%) are located in investor-owned utility territory. These customers are served by energy efficiency programs administered by the nonprofit Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO). The ETO was created in association with electric utility restructuring to provide energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

The state’s electric energy efficiency programs are required by legislation (SB 1149). Oregon’s energy efficiency programs are also supported by strong regional organizations—the Bonneville Power Administration, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. Some utility customers are served by ETO, while others are served by utilities directly. The ETO has achieved significant success in a short time. Since its creation in 2002, the organization has rapidly developed and implemented a comprehensive menu of programs and services for customer energy efficiency.

Oregon’s public purpose charge (3% of the total revenues collected by the utilities from customer electric bills) provides roughly $60 million per year to support energy efficiency, renewable energy, and low-income programs in Oregon. This funding supports the Energy Trust of Oregon’s electric programs as well as electric low-income programs provided by Oregon Housing and Community Services, a state agency. In 2007, SB 838 extended the public purpose charge through 2025.

The ETO also receives funding from natural gas utilities (NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas) to administer natural gas efficiency programs.

Self-direct options are available in Oregon. The Eugene Water and Electric Board offers a self-direct program in which customers receive contractual obligations to achieve a certain kilowatt-hour of savings annually based on the percentage of load a customer represents and the average conservation savings achieved by the industrial sector in prior years.

Self-direct customers continue to pay the regular cost-recovery mechanism (CRM) of 5% but receive a monthly rate credit equal to conservation fee minus utility measurement and verification costs.  Customers who fail to meet their goals must repay a proportional amount of the rate credit.  Also the Oregon Department of Energy offers a self-direct option to customers with more than 1 MW. More information on large customer self-direct programs can be found in the ACEEE report, Follow the Leaders: Improving Large Customer Self-Direct Programs.

The most recent budgets for energy efficiency programs and electricity and natural gas savings can be found in the State Spending and Savings Tables.

Last Updated: September 2016

Energy Efficiency as a Resource  List All

Oregon is part of the four-state region included in the scope of operations for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC), which has responsibility for resource planning for the region. NPCC has identified energy efficiency and conservation as the priority resource for meeting load growth in the region and expects that this resource can address about 85% of all load growth through 2030.

The Energy Trust of Oregon develops estimates of savings from its programs that utilities serving the state (Pacificorp and Portland General Electric) use in their load forecasts and planning processes.

Last Updated: September 2016

Energy Efficiency Resource Standards List All

Electric: Targets are equivalent to 0.8% of 2009 electric sales in 2010, ramping up to about 1.4% through 2019.

Natural Gas: 0.2% of sales in 2010, ramping up to 0.4% in 2014.
2015-2019 gas targets are equivalent to 0.7% of forecasted sales.

In its first ever long-range strategic plan, the Energy Trust of Oregon laid out energy savings goals between 2010 and 2014 of 256 average megawatts (2,242.6 GWh) of electricity and 22.5 million annual therms of natural gas.

These goals include savings from NEEA programs. Electric targets are equivalent to 0.8 percent of 2009 electric sales in 2010, ramping up to 1% in 2013 and 2014. Natural gas targets ramp up from 0.2 percent of 2007 natural gas sales to 0.4 percent in 2014. ETO is in the process of updating their strategic plan for the period 2015-2019. Current draft targets hold electricity savings relatively steady, though natural gas savings increase to 0.7% in 2015.

Achievement of Oregon’s goals is contingent upon continued increases in IRP funding. Goals include savings from NEEA programs.

Last Updated: September 2016

Utility Business Model  List All

Since 2009 Portland General Electric has implemented revenue per customer decoupling (called Sales Normalization Adjustment) for residential, small business, and “other” customers.  Lost revenue recovery is implemented for commercial and industrial consumers with loads less than 1 average megawatt.

The program also has a 2% rate cap on the amount recoverable by PGE through fixed costs in usage-based rate adjustments. (Portland General Electric (electric):  Docket No. UE-197; Order Nos. 09-020, 09-176, 10-478 and 11-110)

Cascade Natural Gas was approved for margin-per-customer decoupling effective May 1, 2006, while Northwest Natural Gas has been implementing use-per-customer decoupling since 2003. Both make a base rate decoupling adjustment to reflect changes in use per customer over the past year on a prospective basis in the following year’s rates.

Cascade Natural Gas Docket No. UG 167, Order No. 06-191, April 2006; Northwest Natural Gas Docket No. UG 163, Order No. 07-426 (extending through October 2012 the prior decoupling mechanism approved in Docket No. UG 152, Order No. 03-507); Portland General Electric; Docket No. UE-197; Order Nos. 09-020 and 09-176).
There is currently no policy in place that rewards successful energy efficiency programs.

Last Updated: September 2016

Evaluation, Measurement & Verification  List All

  • Cost-effectiveness test(s) used: TRC, UCT
  • Uses a deemed savings database: no

The evaluation of ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs in Oregon for Energy Trust investor-owned utility territory relies on regulatory orders (Docket UM 551, Order 94-590).

Evaluations are mainly administered by the Energy Trust of Oregon. Oregon has formal requirements for evaluation articulated in Docket UM 551, Order 94-590. Statewide evaluations are conducted.

Oregon uses two of the five classic benefit-cost tests identified in the California Standard Practice Manual. These are the Utility/Program Administrator Test (UCT) and Total Resource Cost test (TRC).

Oregon specifies the TRC to be its primary test for decision making.

The benefit-cost tests are required for total program and individual measure level screening, with exceptions made for low-income programs, pilots, and new technologies. The rules for benefit-cost tests are stated in Docket UM 551, Order 94-590. 

Beginning with 2014 reporting, Energy Trust describes what was formerly considered to be a ‘Societal’ Cost-Effectiveness Test as a Total Resource Cost test (TRC), which more accurately describes it. Energy Trust continues to use the Utility Cost Test (UCT) as well.

Based on Oregon PUC DOCKET UM 551, ORDER 94-590 exceptions to the cost-effectiveness requirements are allowed if one of the following conditions are met:
     a. Produce significant non-quantifiable non-energy benefits; 
     b. Will lead to market transformation and reduced costs; 
     c. Are needed for consistency with other DSM programs in the region; 
     d. Will help to increase participation in a cost-effective program;  
     e. Cannot be changed frequently, and will be cost-effective during the period  the program is offered; 
     f. Are included in a pilot or research project; and 
     g. Are required by law or are consistent with Commission policy or direction 

Last Updated: September 2016

Self Direct and Opt-Out Programs  List All

The self-direct option for the Public Purpose Charge is required for two of the three investor-owned utilities. This program is uniform statewide across all impacted utilities.

One consumer-owned utility has chosen to design and run a self-direction program. Programs cover approximately 80% of the electric customers in Oregon. Eligible sites must demonstrate they were over 1 MW avg in the prior year to enter and remain in the program.

Participants in the three participating programs have the proposed projects technically reviewed by the Oregon Dept of Energy.

In two programs, the expenditures toward qualified projects are used as credit to offset future Public Purpose Charges. The credit is applied on-bill.  In the third, the utility does a set-aside program in combination with credit toward future Public Purpose Charges. 

These funds are provided by check and/or on-bill.

A technical review of claimed savings is conducted by the Oregon Department of Energy prior to construction of a project. A sampling of projects are reviewed for actual performance. 17 out of the estimated 230 eligible sites are participating. The percentage of eligible load is not published by the utilities.

Total savings for 2015 was 2,743,000 kWh.

Last Updated: July 2016

Data Access  List All

Guidelines for Third Party Access

The Electric Company Transfer of Data rule requires utilities to transfer customer energy use data to the Energy Trust of Oregon. An electric company must file and maintain a tariff with the Commission that specifies the types of proprietary customer information, along with the prices, terms, conditions, and consent procedures associated with the transfer of such information to its competitive operations, electricity service suppliers, affiliates and aggregators.  

Requirements for Provision of Energy Data

Electric utilities are required by the Commission to “provide access to detailed, real-time information on electricity use and costs to help customers manage use and costs and understand how to save” (UM 1460, Order 12 158 (5/8/12) at 3). To date, customer engagement is still limited. Details in how the data is provided to customers, owner of multi-tenant buildings and public agencies are not required, but access is required. 

Energy Use Data Availability

Oregon does not have an online standardized system through which access to individual or aggregated energy use data may be requested. 

Last Updated: September 2016

Important Links List All

– See more at: http://database.aceee.org/state/oregon#sthash.Uylmka27.dpuf