How Targeting Can Transform Electrification Initiatives

February 20, 2024
Download our fact sheet to learn more about Recurve’s approach to Beneficial Electrification.

Recurve's real time measurement of electrification's impacts on the grid and customer bills showed that the top 25% of targeted customers were delivering nearly all summer peak energy savings. Summer peak reductions are critical for reliability, greenhouse gas reductions, and increasingly bill savings as we move to time of use rates.

Electrification is critical to decarbonization, and heat pump technology is at the forefront of this transition. As we deploy this technology at scale, however, we must navigate complexities around optimizing energy use, managing peak demand, and ensuring equitable outcomes to avoid unintended consequences.

TECH Clean California's recent analysis of nearly 2,000 heat pump installations demonstrates how meter data can yield actionable insights to help electrification programs optimize their outreach, ensuring that heat pump installations save money for customers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide value to the grid.

Specifically, the analysis showed how the 25 percent of identified customers who used the most air conditioning in the summer saved substantially more and provided much greater value to the grid by switching to a heat pump — even when considering increased electricity use for heating in the winter. 

Targeting high-value customers like these in an electrification program is a no-regrets strategy to ensure that heat pump programs leverage their limited budgets to reach customers who receive and provide the most value. In addition, this strategy avoids outreach to potential heat pump customers who could see their overall energy bills go up. 

Early Findings from the TECH Clean California Data Platform

Key Benefits of Recurve's approach to Beneficial Electrification

The TECH Clean California platform is a first-of-its-kind data platform, capable of embedded measurement and data-driven decision-making. The platform will soon be tracking the savings (resource curve), grid and GHG impacts, and bill savings for thousands of heat pumps statewide. 

In its first phase, the TECH Platform is tracking 1,945 PG&E territory projects. 1,603 were heat pump HVAC projects with no solar behind the meter. Of those, 633 are “mature,” defined as having a full year of post-installation meter data available. 

The following figure shows the electric load shape impacts of space heating electrification for an average non-solar residential customer. The top panels show the average daily observed load shape and counterfactual (“business as usual” consumption) after a customer received a heat pump installation. Three seasons are broken out from left to right: winter, shoulder, and summer. The bottom three panels show the corresponding savings profiles, which differ between the counterfactual and the actual usage.   

In the winter, customers use more electricity as they heat their homes, particularly in the morning. The shoulder months show a similar effect, though much less, given the milder weather. In the summer, the heat pump systems provide more efficient air conditioning, yielding positive midday and peak savings. 

Targeting High Air Conditioning Customers Delivers Peak Savings

Breaking customers up into quartiles based on summer cooling yields very interesting results when one analyzes summer peak savings.

For customers in the first three quartiles, changes in peak electricity demand ranged from a significant increase to a slight decrease. However, customers in the top quartile of baseline cooling load are achieving high summer peak savings (524 ± 42 kWh). With improved air conditioning efficiency, customers in this group generate an average of nearly $1,500 in electric utility avoided costs despite electrifying their space heating. The increase of 1.9 tons of electric-only GHG emissions among these customers is also far less than the portfolio average. 

The top quartile can be segmented further by baseline cooling load, and doing so makes clear that a high ceiling exists for beneficial space heating electrification. The top eight cooling users save more than 750 kWh during the summer peak. These users also drove nearly $2,500 in lifecycle electric grid value while having almost zero net GHG impact from the electric impacts alone. Combined with the grid and GHG benefits of gas savings, these cooling-burdened users carry extremely high potential benefits from electrification.

These results indicate that focused electrification is a win-win-win for utilities, ratepayers, and participants. There are nearly two million residential customers in California who meet this profile of high air conditioning loads. These customers can save enough during peak hours to help stabilize the grid and save on their bills – not to mention they will achieve enormous gas and GHG savings by electrifying their space heating.

Electrification is critical to decarbonizing our buildings and using clean, renewable electricity on the grid. As electrification initiatives accelerate, meter-based customer targeting ensures that these efforts reach the customers who will benefit and provide grid value now, setting the stage for future success.

About TECH Clean California

The TECH Clean California (TECH) initiative is led by Energy Solutions and eleven partners, including Recurve, which designed the data platform. TECH is funded by California ratepayers and taxpayers and administered by Southern California Edison Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission. The initiative is focused on heat pump market transformation, and has multiple objectives, including reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, saving customers money on their bills, and ensuring equitable electrification.

Download our fact sheet and get in touch to learn more about how we can work together to put the Beneficial in Electrification.

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