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Skumatz Economic Research Associates, Inc. (SERA) has worked in program evaluation, market assessment, and potential studies for residential (single and multi-family, and low income), commercial, industrial, and agricultural energy efficiency initiatives. We have evaluated single programs, as well as entire utility portfolios. The firm (a WBE) was established in 1990 and in that time, SERA has conducted more than 330 project assignments in the US and internationally, and has published extensively on our project research. Our staff includes economists and analysts with experience in evaluation, surveys and statistics, quantitative, and policy analysis. SERA has a reputation for quantitative, data-based research, and developing creative approaches to find practical (and affordable) methods to quantify complex or hard-to-measure impacts. SERA is based in Colorado, and maintains an office in the Northwest. SERA has presented the results of our research in 150 papers in trade journals, refereed journals, and national and international conference proceedings.
SERA provides a range of economic, statistical, planning, and quantitative analysis work. The firm and its multi-disciplinary staff have years of experience in key areas of utility-related research, including expertise in:
· Non-energy benefits (NEBs) and Benefit-Cost Tests and analytics
· Integrated planning assistance and statistical analysis and modeling.
· GHG emissions strategies and cost-effectiveness
· Net to Gross / attribution (NTG)
· EE process evaluation
· Persistence and measure life (EULs)
· Behavioral and social marketing programs design and evaluation
· Surveys, market research, focus groups, and stakeholder interviews
· Market progress indicators / tracking, market adoption
· Best practices in evaluation and M&V design / peer-review and oversight
SERA’s work is designed to provide information to support decision making in program design / refinement, targeting and investment; customer retention; ratemaking; and resource planning. SERA's staff has experience working inside utilities as well as in a consulting role.
For energy utilities, regulators, and states, SERA has provided detailed research on best practices in evaluation methods for impact, attribution / net to gross, measure lifetimes, and non-energy benefits work. SERA’s process evaluation expertise is considerable, involving all phases including research design, methods, survey approach, sampling, instrument design, document review, context work / benchmarking, and analysis. We have conducted market characterization / assessment / market potential for a host of residential, commercial, R&D, low income, and other programs – including measure-based, market transformation, education / training, real time pricing, and other programs. We are very familiar with standard evaluation protocols, and with ISO requirements for evaluation. We have developed innovative methodologies and conducted “best practices” research and manuals for clients from California to the Northeast on impact and process evaluation, net-to-gross (NTG), surveys, measure lifetimes (EULs), and non-energy benefits (NEBs). We have conducted scores of program evaluations, and SERA staff have taught workshops in evaluation, and helped develop a manual on best practices in evaluation for MT programs.
Dr. Skumatz conducted work for the California Public Utilities Commission assessing compliance of all state IOUs with mandated programs and activities for four program years; analyses with consequences in the tens of millions of dollars for regulatory proceedings. SERA served as advisors to ALJs on a variety of issues. We reviewed more than 100 studies to assess conformance with protocols; and reviewed measure life values and derivations to set new EUL values or protocols / guidelines for several states and agencies. Dr. Skumatz conducted extensive work reviewing and providing advice on cost-effectiveness tests and revisions to better address goals and weaknesses. Her work in two areas have been developed into widely accepted protocols. SERA staff have provided expert witness testimony or documents for regulatory purposes in Maryland, Colorado, California, Connecticut and elsewhere.
For the State of Connecticut, SERA is responsible for peer review and oversight of all energy efficiency evaluation work conducted in support of State gas and electric company company portfolio, and is responsible for peer review of M&V design and reports in another state.
SERA is one of the leading firms nationally in NEBs. SERA has developed widely-cited state-of-the-art capabilities in measuring non-energy benefits – including applying sophisticated techniques to value and assess the impacts and behavioral changes for participants, measure job creation, and assess emissions impacts. SERA created a Non-energy benefits computation model that is used across the State of California. We have databases of measure and program-level residential and business NEB results, and thousands of residential and commercial surveys conducted nationwide that allow us to identify NEBs by program and business type and actor type. We lead the world in publications on NEBs, and in developing NEBs for the wide portfolio of programs, with metrics developed program-wide and by measure for residential, commercial, R&D, real time pricing, and other program types. We pioneered the use of measured “negative” NEBs as barriers to inform program design for improved program uptake. SERA has also conducted extensive work in best practices in the application of NEBs to marketing, program planning, and other uses, but especially in benefit-cost tests, including testimony and participation in proceedings in many states.
SERA has conducted scores of statistical measure lifetime studies, as well as multiple national and regional review of EUL studies to identify best values, gaps, and transferability of values from other locations. SERA pioneered and developed the method that is currently protocol across the nation. SERA has expertise in all phases of the development of statistically-justifiable EUL work, including the surveys, specialized statistical analysis methods, and application. We recently conducted a review of the EULs being used around the nation, exploring the quality of the studies underlying the values, examining the variation in EULs, and the rationale for variations in values. We have completed recent EUL studies in NY, IL, RI, ME, and CA.
SERA published extensively on best practices for Utility Cost Tests, Societal Tests, TRC, Participant Tests, and others. We have expertise in refined tests, and in the elements of the tests, including NTG, Lifetimes, appropriate discount rates, and other elements. We have published extensively on the relative risk factors underlying key elements of existing benefit-cost tests, the range of risk associated, and improved calculations.
Many of our projects have involved building Excel and other models to support scenario analysis and assess risks. This includes work examining the rate impact of alternative assumptions, effects of variations in participation forecasts, and other work. We have also conducted work modeling scenarios to assess the risk and threats to feedstock for biomass plants.
SERA has conducted extensive traditional work to measure market progress and penetration attributable to program interventions. However, SERA has also developed cutting-edge approaches for measuring and attributing program effects using price decomposition regression work that mirrors market penetration that can work without a control group, and that identifies the trigger point for a program to “exit” the market. SERA has applied specialized and robust survey approaches and associated modeling methods to estimate market adoption given program intervention alternatives.
SERA has designed, conducted, and/or evaluated behavioral programs in the energy fields. This includes residential programs all across the nation, and additional evaluations of military programs, schools programs, and commercial programs. The work includes multiple social marketing projects, including detailed evaluations with quasi experimental design and detailed tracking of impacts, costs and persistence of effects. In one projects, we used our retention work to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of “cycling” a well-known behavioral energy program. For a large client in California, we prepared a wide-ranging best practices manual on behavioral programs, addressing impact evaluation, net-to-gross, retention, and NEB methods, results / state-of-the-art, and gaps. We have conducted detailed work measuring the impact of outreach and education programs, and have examined the impacts attributable to attitudinal and socio-demographic effects, including self-efficacy and other factors.
Starting in 2007, SERA has been conducting work to examine the cost per MTCE from energy efficiency and other GHG-reduction strategies, comparing performance on cost-effectiveness and job creation effects, as well as other criteria important to our various clients, including speed of implementation, authority issues, coverage and diversity of responsibility, and other factors. We have also conducted work analyzing the impacts, feasibility, and cost-effectiveness of alternative strategies for communities that are out of attainment to reach goals.
SERA has conducted hundreds of survey projects for utilities, including surveys of the variety of relevant actors for process evaluation (participant, non-participants, builders / developers, and other stakeholders). We have conducted surveys for appliance saturation and end use surveys (commercial). We have extensive experience conducting, managing, and analyzing large survey projects for evaluation, measure retention/persistence, net-to-gross, NEBs, market share impacts, targeting / marketing and other applications. SERA has expertise in survey issues including bias identification, imputation and bias reduction approaches, weighting, and other topics. We have conducted thousands of detailed interviews with stakeholders and focus group work as part of process evaluation, “new measures”, market adoption, and other projects. These interviews have included commercial builders / developers / owners, residential households and builders, contractors, agricultural sectors, and others. In many recent stakeholder meetings we have used real-time voting options (clickers and remote voting) that have helped make meetings especially productive.
(NW Regional Technical Forum, States of ME, CA, NY, IL, RI; CPUC, SCE, BPA, PG&E, CCIG, PSE, NU, NRDC, Energy Journal)
(NRDC, NGRID, CPUC / CIEE, Xcel, PG&E, NYSERDA, SCE, NU, SDG&E, IEA, NZ, BCHydro, Energy Center of Wisc, SCL, SCG, Rightlights, ASE, CYC, private client, CT)
Impact evaluations, attribution, NTG (PG&E, NYSERDA, SCL, BPA)
(NYSERDA, NVEnergy, STEP-UP, PG&E, BPA, NU, ECWisc, Energy Trust of Oregon, SCE, CBEE, PSE, SCL, Curb Your Carbon (CYC))
Low income program support
(NU, NGRID, PG&E, NGRID, Wisc DAS, SCG, NYSERDA, SDG&E, PSE, SCE, NRDC)
RFP development / evaluation
(State of CT, Xcel, NSP, PSCo)
(WWP, BC Hydro, MEEA)
Market characterization for commercial, residential, and multifamily programs
(NYSERDA, NU, PG&E, MEEA, WWP, PSE)
Market assessment, market progress indicators, tracking
(PG&E, NYSERDA portfolio-wide, NU, Rightlights, ASE, BPA, CBEE, private client)
Surveys and market research
(NRDC, STEP/UP, ECW, PSE, SCL, NU, PG&E, SCE, NYSERDA, CEC, Sierra Pacific, WWP, BPA, CYC, NRDC)
Behavioral / Education / Outreach evaluations
(CIEE, State of CO, NYSERDA, State of Iowa, Curb Your Carbon, CEC Chicago, Alliance to Save Energy, National Guard, other)
Commercial sector / stakeholder interviews
(PG&E 4 programs, NYSERDA 7 programs, SCE 3 programs, Rightlights, Xcel Energy)
Regulatory assistance, State Evaluation oversight, Peer Review
(State of CT, Ameren, PG&E, CPUC, SCE, NU, PSE, NRDC, Energy Outreach Colorado, Xcel Energy)
Rate / Tariff Support and Research:
(PG&E, PSE, SCL, private client, CPUC)
Job creation / economic development / “green” jobs
(NGRID, NRDC, PG&E, NU, SDG&E, SCL, SCG, ACEEE, CPUC / CIEE, Xcel Energy, WI-DAS)
GHG / emissions estimation
(PG&E, NYSERDA, SCE, NU, SDG&E, NZ, BCHydro, Energy Center of Wisc, SCL, SCG, NGRID, Rightlights, ASE, CYC, NRDC, NGRID)
Rates / forecasting / statistical analysis
(PSE, PG&E, PGE, NERA, EPRI)
Cost-Effectiveness Tests (CPUC/CIEE, PG&E, NRDC for MD, NRDC for CA, NRDC for Maine, NRDC for IL, ACEEE, IEA, NGRID, SDG&E, NYSERDA, EO Colorado)
Best Practices / Framework/ Oversight
(CIEE, State of CT, NVEnergy, State of California / CPUC, PG&E)
Lisa A. Skumatz, Ph.D., is Principal of Skumatz Economic Research Associates. An economist, she has more than 30 years of experience in energy evaluation. For energy utilities, regulators, and states, she has provided detailed research and publications on best practices in evaluation methods for impact, attribution / net to gross, measure lifetimes, and non-energy benefits (NEBs) work. She is nationally known and much-cited for her pioneering and exhaustive work in NEBs and is nationally recognized in measure lifetimes (EULs). She developed the methods that are currently used as best practices or in protocols for both these topics.
She is the statewide Evaluation Oversight Administrator for the State of Connecticut, and provides peer review / best practices oversight for portfolio evaluation and M&V work for another state. She has expertise in behavioral programs, including design and evaluation work, and has published extensively on this topic. Lisa conducted cutting-edge work on market progress indicators and market adoption modeling, and has worked with utilities around the nation to incorporate new measures into programs. Dr. Skumatz conducted work for the California Public Utilities Commission assessing compliance of all state IOUs with mandated programs and activities for four program years; analyses with consequences in the tens of millions of dollars for regulatory proceedings. Dr. Skumatz served as advisor to ALJs on a variety of issues, and has developed testimony, regulatory support, and work papers for proceedings in California, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, and elsewhere. She conducted extensive work reviewing and providing advice on cost-effectiveness tests and revisions to better address goals and weaknesses. She has conducted work on “best practices” and frameworks for evaluation for California and the CIEE.
Dr. Skumatz developed the research plan, sampling, survey instruments, and analysis matrix for the analysis for the portfolio of residential, commercial, and renewables programs for a large northeast energy agency. She brings special expertise in survey research and has conducted all phases of statistical survey for scores of projects for regulatory compliance, evaluation, NTG, measure life, appliance saturation, load research and other applications. She has published specialized work in identification and treatment of survey bias in energy survey work in refereed journals. Lisa has extensive experience in scenario analysis and risk assessment modeling. She has conducted work examining the cost-effectiveness of alternative GHG reduction strategies, and has conducted statistical work evaluating outreach programs.
She is a skilled and experienced facilitator of focus groups and stakeholder meetings. Dr. Skumatz has taught workshops and trainings in program evaluation at utilities and conferences around the country, and has published more than 145 papers in energy evaluation topics for all the leading national, and international energy evaluation conferences. Dr. Skumatz holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University (Economics / Econometrics).
Dana D’Souza, has over 10 years of experience with SERA, and has conducted process evaluations, market progress research, NEB analysis, and detailed interview work for energy clients across the nation and internationally. She has conducted detailed process / NTG / NEB telephone interviews with participants and non-participant homeowners, builders, and other stakeholders for projects in California, Colorado, Rhode Island and other states / utilities. She has conducted interviews and analysis of a large commercial and industrial energy efficiency rebate program for a client in NY, and other commercial interviews in California and elsewhere.
She has collected and used data to measure market progress, identify key barriers and opportunities, and estimate the gross and net savings attributable to various energy related programs across the country. She has detailed work in non-energy benefits work, assessing the “hard to measure” program impacts beyond energy savings that accrue due to program efforts. Her non-energy benefits and net to gross work includes assisting Dr. Skumatz in her work for CIEE/CPUC on measuring behavioral impacts, analysis of the NEBs for the California Statewide Energy Star® Single Family Homes Program and Home Performance with Energy Star®, as well as the California Statewide Energy Star® Multifamily Homes Program, Green Campus program, San Francisco Environment, City of Oakland, Building Research of New Zealand, and other clients. Ms. D’Souza conducted a detailed process analysis of the Green Campus program, analyzing the participation decision-making, program impacts, program design / implementation, and NEBs associated with the program.
Ms. D’Souza has conducted work in DSM program tracking and evaluation, and conducted field and phone research on energy decision-making / program options / preferences. She has analyzed the pros and cons of alternative policies and programs, identified the attributable effects, conducted and analyzed large-scale surveys and data. She has conducted detailed interviews with building stakeholders, and has analyzed topics including attitudes, adoption of new practices, barriers, investment decisions, customer satisfaction, preferences and behavior. She has presented her findings at multiple national conferences including AESP and ACEEE.
Ms. Vander Vliet has strong quantitative and data collection skills, and an excellent inter-personal approach to help gain survey participation. She has conducted work for SERA on NEB literature search and review, NEB database updating tasks, and phone/web survey data collection for work in NEB projects and other energy efficiency evaluation projects.
Education: MS entomology, Washington State University, Pullman WA (2013); BS Zoology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO (2008); Previous employment: Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistant (2005-08, 2008-11), Peninsula Humane Society (2018-19), Las Cruces NM Police Department (2012-18).
Dr. Skumatz has more than 125 articles and papers (beyond reports) in trade journals, conference proceedings, refereed journals and other publications on her work in NEBs, evaluation techniques, measure lifetimes, surveys and bias reduction, program evaluation results, evaluation methods for education programs, self-efficacy, advanced baseline / impact evaluation methods, conditional demand, and other topics. She has another 150 publications (not including reports) in resource economics / recycling / sustainability. Please contact us for other publications not listed here or any questions.