Will the Measurement Robots Take Our Jobs? An Update on the State of Automated M&V for Energy Efficiency Programs
Trustworthy savings calculations are critical to convincing regulators of both the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency program investments and their ability to defer supply-side capital investments. Today’s methods for measurement and verification (M&V) of energy savings constitute a significant portion of the total costs of energy efficiency programs. They also require time-consuming data acquisition. A spectrum of savings calculation approaches is used, with some relying more heavily on measured data and others relying more heavily on estimated, modeled, or stipulated data.
The rising availability of “smart” meters and devices that report near-real time data, combined with new analytical approaches to quantifying savings, offers potential to conduct M&V more quickly and at lower cost, with comparable or improved accuracy. Commercial energy management and information systems (EMIS) technologies are beginning to offer M&V capabilities, and program administrators want to understand how they might assist programs in quickly and accurately measuring energy savings. This paper presents the results of recent testing of the ability to use automation to streamline some parts of M&V. In this paper, we detail metrics to assess the performance of these new M&V approaches, and a framework to compute the metrics. We also discuss the accuracy, cost, and time trade-offs between more traditional M&V, and these emerging streamlined methods that use high-resolution energy data and automated computational intelligence. Finally we discuss the potential evolution of M&V and early results of pilots currently underway to incorporate M&V automation into ratepayer-funded programs and professional implementation and evaluation practice.