Tom Konrad writes in Seeking Alpha about the importance of energy efficiency and the role played by legislation.
Crucially, the legislation allows for non-energy benefits, such as increased comfort, economic multiplier effects (i.e. jobs), and reduced volatility of energy costs be included in the evaluation of the benefits of programs. Since financial benefits are a relatively small part of net benefit, this allows the implementation of a large number of DSM programs with large net benefit, but which might have only small financial benefits.
Studying non-energy benefits is still an inexact science, and one of the things CEEBC is pushing for in the PUC docket is to make sure that we do our own study of non-energy benefits in Colorado, so we can better understand what we are getting (besides an excellent financial return) for our money.
That understanding should lead to more DSM programs, because the results will be better and higher valued as people begin to recognize the true worth of energy efficiency. This has already benefited the companies, such as Energy Service Contractors, and providers of energy efficient products and the controls which enable them as more and more individuals, businesses, and utilities (gently prodded by the regulators), begin to choose A.
This is the similar to the general “business case” for sustainability.