In an increasingly complex world of changing technology and quickly shifting sales trends, accurate and timely data provides important context for designing and managing energy efficiency programs. In 2016, the alliance worked closely with retailers and distributors to gather monthly store-level sales and stocking data. For the first time, regional utilities and efficiency organizations have access to near real-time market intelligence to inform and influence some of their own program decision-making.
Through its Reduced Wattage Lamp Replacement program, the alliance collects branch-level sales and stocking data from 16 participating electrical distributors and over 250 Northwest branches. NEEA staff then analyzes and shares anonymized data with funders to help them understand and respond to how their local markets are performing. “Getting access to sales data at the utility-service territory level is incredibly difficult,” says Carrie Cobb, Market Research Lead at Bonneville Power Administration. “The market moves at different speeds across the region, but it’s not cost-effective (or often possible) for individual utilities to collect sales data on their own. Now utilities can compare themselves against the average and make informed decisions.”
In 2016, the alliance began collecting consumer product sales data through its Retail Product Portfolio program. Although the region has only scratched the surface on the value of this data, it has already been put to good use. For example, ENERGY STAR® is re-examining some of its clothes dryer efficiency tiers based on revelations from the data. NEEA staff have also used the data to identify new sources of energy savings. “Through these midstream programs, we’ve expanded the range of data available to us,” says Stephanie Rider, NEEA’s Senior Manager of Market Planning. “As a result, we can measure and report some energy savings that we just couldn’t see before, which improves the cost-effectiveness of funder investments in NEEA and resources available to the region.”
The reason that NEEA has been able to collect this valuable (commercial lighting) data is their skill in developing relationships with distributors.
Leveraging its programs and the relationships it has built with retailers and distributors, the alliance has created a data-gathering platform that will deliver actionable information to the region for years to come. With this expanded insight, and in combination with the already rich stock assessment data that the alliance collects, the region has a powerful way to support regional and local utility planning efforts, track market trends, identify new efficiency opportunities, and optimize incentive levels. The result will be greater energy savings, more cost-effective programs, and better products for Northwest customers.