The Dual-Fuel Approach to Efficiency

Representing the goals of natural gas and electric utilities alike, NEEA’s dual-fuel perspective delivers greater efficiency outcomes and supports utilities’ decarbonization efforts.

By advancing both electric and natural gas efficiency, NEEA is helping to maximize the pathways to a cleaner and more resilient energy future and to increase customer access to efficient options. NEEA’s natural gas Market Transformation initiatives not only contribute to affordable and reliable energy efficiency advancements, they also support regional decarbonization and resource adequacy.

Working throughout the supply chain, NEEA engages with companies that manufacture, sell, distribute, and install both gas and electric products. The alliance’s neutral stance improves its standing with the market and makes NEEA more effective at influencing market actors and driving technology advancements toward greater efficiency. Many of the technology innovations that NEEA supports are often transferable, having benefits for both gas and electric products.

For example, the alliance is leveraging its work on efficient gas rooftop HVAC equipment to promote better rooftop boxes for all fuel sources, including dual-fuel and electric heat pumps as they gain share into the market. This innovation represents significant efficiency opportunities for natural gas customers and significant energy and carbon savings for the region. And, by pursuing efficient technologies for all end uses, NEEA’s efforts are leading to more efficient products in a wider range of categories, benefitting the entire energy system.

It’s critical for us to find opportunities to provide affordable, reliable energy options for our customers. As a dual-fuel alliance, NEEA plays an important role in helping us to ensure that all of our customers—both electric and gas—are able to benefit from proven energy-efficient technologies and innovative solutions.

- Nicole Hydzik
Avista Utilities

Dual-Fuel Focus and National Collaboration Drive Local Results

As the region wrestles with the impacts of planned electrification as part of aggressive decarbonization targets, NEEA is leveraging its unique ability to unite a range of stakeholders and center them around a common goal. By working together, electric and natural gas utilities can develop and promote technologies that optimize the region’s integrated gas and electric energy systems, leading to cost savings for consumers and improving reliability, which ultimately benefits the entire region.

To meet this need, NEEA convened two Dual-Fuel Work Groups to coordinate on regional pilots and efforts and to discuss measurement and valuation approaches for these unique systems. Additionally, to optimize regional investment, NEEA collaborates with a cross-section of regional and national stakeholders, co-funding activities, sharing insights and information and leveraging ongoing work in other parts of the country. In 2023, NEEA collaborated with groups from California and the Midwest to Canada to accelerate the commercialization and adoption of efficient natural gas and dual-fuel products.

In addition to finding opportunities to collaborate as the industry evolves, utilities are increasingly looking toward dual-fuel systems (e.g., electric heat pumps with natural gas back-ups) and fuel-neutral technologies (e.g., efficient windows), that deliver energy savings regardless of electrification timelines or customer preference and may provide important resource adequacy benefits as well.

2023 highlights include:

Efficient Rooftop Units
NEEA collaborated with Minnesota’s Center for Energy and Environment, Nicor Gas, CalMTA, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, and others across the U.S. and Canada to create consistent messages for HVAC manufacturers to develop and promote more efficient rooftop units (RTUs). By focusing on whole-box efficiency, including better insulation, dampers, and energy recovery, and uniting around a new test procedure and standard that values the entire RTU, NEEA and its allies are highlighting significant opportunities for efficiency gains and sending a strong market message to improve the efficiency in one-for-one RTU replacements.

High-Performance Windows
The alliance’s High-Performance Windows program is a fuel-neutral effort that seeks to accelerate the adoption of high-performing windows, one such example being triple-pane windows. These products provide homeowners with comfort, sustainable living, and the opportunity to realize energy savings while providing the following benefits:

  • Enhanced thermal, visual, and acoustic comfort
  • Reduced unwanted heat loss/gain
  • Improved window energy performance by 40%
  • Reduced heating and cooling costs
  • Enhanced protection from extreme weather conditions

To ensure high-performance window products are available and scalable to meet demand for consumers in the Northwest, the alliance identified opportunities in 2023 to work with market partners to install high-performance windows in real world applications to increase awareness of and generate greater demand for high-performance window solutions among residential builders and consumers.

Learn more about NEEA’s natural gas and dual fuel programs.

To learn more about the alliance's key activities and highlights in 2023, view the full annual report: