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It has been a while since I’ve written anything about programs, so here it goes.  Program evaluation provides about half our business, and much of that is verifying gross savings estimates, which are simply the original program-claimed savings.  Verifying custom projects, those that don’t fall into mass categories like light bulbs and air conditioners, are generally more interesting, at least from an energy analysis perspective.  Findings from the field can be follical (new word derived from folly) for any type of measure.

Implementers of custom efficiency programs, especially implementers not accustomed to the evaluation process, can be especially entertaining.  In this context, I am including new construction, retrocommissioning, controls, and anything that requires unique and not one-size-fits-all energy analyses.

Being on the implementation side ourselves (the other half of our work), we are uncomfortable turning over the family jewels, so to speak, to other companies, which may or may not be competitors.  Some evaluators, like Michaels, provide both implementation and evaluation services, so you can see an obvious sensitivity here.  Nevertheless, Jeff Ihnen developed our confidentiality agreement which includes the severing of hands for breech of the agreement – if we find our family jewels are being used by anyone else and we can trace it back to the signing party of the agreement.  Everything is traceable with computers now days because everything travels over the internet at some point and is touched by dozens of servers somewhere in the world.

Think hand-severing is harsh, do you?  Most corporate agreements have penalties that include confiscating all assets, child enslavement for all stockholders, and deportation to a third world ghetto after serving two life sentences in a maximum security prison.

So, we have confidentiality agreements for all evaluation projects to protect implementer intellectual property as well as customer information, which is considered to be extremely sensitive.  I can see why energy use is sensitive for large energy-intensive manufacturers, like food processors, but for hair salons, not so much.  Pretty much all hair dryers I look at in a hotel room are 1500 Watts.  Quite possibly this could have something to do with the circuit limit – just guessing (I know nothing about electrical crap, except this to be true).  You won’t find anything UL listed and legal that will plug into a 120V wall outlet and burn more than 1500 Watts.

Back to the implementer evaluation virgins – we have a job to do, which includes evaluating the accuracy of energy simulation and then doing site visits to ensure equipment is installed and building characteristics are as modeled in the simulation.  We also need to verify the baselines, which are typically energy codes – state or federal minimum requirements.  The evaluation virgins want to know our detailed method of assessing their work in painstaking detail.  Have you ever gone to a doctor and grilled him/her on their credentials and thought process?  This happens frequently too, especially coming from family members of patients with ailments that require hospitalization.  They don’t know how to parallel park their car but they damn well know that herniated disk in Billy Bob’s back doesn’t require a spinal fusion.  That is for sure.

The same thing has happened to us as evaluators.  We provide our engineering evaluation process in gory detail, and the evaluation virgin responds, “that is not an acceptable method”.  Period.  No reason.  Billy Bob knows best.  What Billy Bob doesn’t understand is he works for the same client we do – the utility.  And the utility needs to have this evaluation completed because the regulators say so; just like they need to do the programs in the first place, because the regulators say so.

Billy Bob may be a competitor, so go ahead, make my day.  Make a big stink and be a pain in the keister.  Madden the utility program manager and the program manager’s manager.  In fact, run it all the way up to the pole to the senior vice president, Billy Bob.  In the process, enroll senior people from the evaluation prime contractor, sub-consultants, and the utility with a combined billing rate equivalent of $3000 per hour to participate in your circus only to be inevitably steam rolled in the end.  Scorched earth – good corporate practice.

Jeff Ihnen

Author Jeff Ihnen

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