Taking the Con Out of Conservation Program Evaluation
Resources and Energy, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 187-207, August 1987
Posted: 19 Nov 2008
Date Written: 1987
A crucial step in determining the cost-effectiveness of a utility conservation program is to measure the energy savings that can be directly attributed to the program. A number of alternative methods have been proposed to measure this energy savings. The alternative methods differ in terms of their complexity, implementation cost and their ability to address important methodological issues arising during program evaluation. The important methodological issues include the need to control for factors influencing energy conservation other than program participation and the need to test for self-selection bias, a problem inherent in the evaluation of most voluntary programs. This paper focuses on three methods: (1) the simple comparison of the average conservation levels of program participants and non-participants; (2) more advanced regression techniques that differentiate between participants and non-participants through the use of dummy variables; and (3) the most advanced techniques, self-selection models, which explicitly analyze the interrelated decisions to participate in a program and to consequently reduce energy consumption. These three methods are described and critiqued at the theoretical level. In order to assess their empirical implications, the methods are then applied to the residential-conservation programs offered by a particular utility, Portland General Electric Company.
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