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By November 7, 2017September 13th, 2021Energy Program Briefs

Demand side management (DSM) programs involve a myriad of technologies, equipment, customer segments, and stakeholders. Often, the primary objective of a given program is to achieve energy (or demand or gas) savings. However, programs are also designed to achieve secondary goals. These secondary goals are equally important to track and evaluate in addition to raw energy savings if the program is going to be successful over time.

What is the goal?

It may seem like a trivial first step, but setting and documenting goals is essential. Goals allow for a tangible way to measure success. Was the goal achieved or not? Energy savings aren’t the only goal of a program. The goal could be to increase health and safety for low income customers or educate children on ways to conserve energy. hese secondary goals will shape program delivery in the future.

Can program actors impact that goal?

Once program goals are established, it’s important to determine if program actors can actually impact those goals. If the key actors from a program can’t impact the goal, pick a different goal, or change the design. For example, one of the goals for an upstream lighting program is to reduce over-lighting in buildings. To achieve this, the program manager requires detailed lighting design documents be submitted for every project. That way, someone goes through a lighting design calculation instead of simply doing a one-for-one replacement.

Problem is, upstream lighting programs are driven solely by lighting distributors. Neither of those actors does lighting design. They sell light bulbs. Forcing these actors to hunt information down isn’t a hurdle to participation, it’s a giant electrified tank barricade. In this case, the goal must change to something distributors can control, such as stocking practices.

Were goals achieved?

Don’t forget to evaluate if the program goals are being met! No, that’s not the same as achieving energy savings targets for the year. In fact, they can often be mutually exclusive. If one of the program goals is to engage more large industrial customers, did that actually happen? How many large industrial participants were there last year versus this year? Did the implementer engage with these customers directly? Measuring the energy savings doesn’t inform the other goals at all.

Good program goals are an important pillar to program success. Program managers should keep program actor behaviors and responsibilities in mind so goals don’t become barriers to participation. Not sure if a program goal is causing a barrier? Just ask and evaluate it!

Michaels Energy

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