Community Choice Energy

Community Choice Aggregation (also called Community Choice Energy) provides municipalities and residents with local control and freedom of choice in the electricity marketplace. Starting and launching a CCE requires many decisions—from procurement to rate structures—and years of community engagement. Frontier Energy brings decades of experience with utility programs and local governments to this new world of options.

In the Bay Area, we worked with Marin Clean Energy, California’s first operating CCE, on their 10-year business plan aimed at transforming the energy market by decreasing the need for incentives and reducing reliance on subsidies. The Frontier Energy team evaluated energy efficiency measures in their existing program and then recommended new measures.

We refined their portfolio design to reach CPUC’s target of a cost-effectiveness score (TRC) of 1.25, meeting Marin Clean Energy’s goals of moving toward a zero-net energy future. We also prepared an evaluation, measurement, and verification plan that included analysis and data collection strategies and market transformation indicators.

In Southern California, Lancaster Choice Energy wanted to develop a ratepayer-funded energy efficiency program. The Frontier Energy team guided Lancaster Choice Energy through the regulatory requirements and supported them through the program plan process so that it could provide programs tailored to the community’s needs. This first-of-its-kind energy efficiency program was approved in May 2018 and will soon be available to its customers.

Utility Demand-side Management

Energy efficiency and demand side management programs were a new concept when the first energy crisis gripped the nation in the early 1980s and sent prices soaring. We were a young company with new ideas about how utilities could help their customers reduce electricity use. Those new ideas are now proven concepts. We have 35 years of experience working with investor owned and municipal utilities, and local governments that see energy efficiency as a resource capable of reducing costs and emissions, and benefiting consumers and businesses.

Recent project areas include:

Program design, implementation, and management

Frontier Energy developed a first-of-its-kind whole house upgrade rebate program for Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Instead of an individual home energy modeling program, SMUD deployed our menu-based structure that removed a significant participation barrier for contractors who could not devote staff to energy modeling. Between 2010 and 2016, SMUD’s program achieved 3,690 completed upgrade projects and processed more than $12 million in rebates.

Workforce development and contractor training

Successful programs are built on successful contractors. When we took on Southern California Regional Energy Network’s residential upgrade program in 2013, the contractor pool was disengaged and declining. To put new spark in this vital group of stakeholders, our team created easy-to-use tools, developed personalized technical training, provided business guidance, and developed a co-op marketing program. The result was an invigorated contractor pool—averaging 36% growth in new contractors per month—which resulted in more upgrades in the program.

Rebate and incentive management and processing

Frontier Energy streamlined the rebate approach for the Bay Area Regional Energy Network’s Multifamily Building Enhancements program. Our team of field analysts and quality assurance specialists engaged with property owners and guided them through the rebate scoping and application process. We provided in-field and telephone support to ensure their applications met program requirements, and the Frontier Energy team reviewed and approved applications for rebate payment. By December 2016, we completed projects for 20,000 units and processed $15 million in rebates.

Financing implementation and administration

Financing options can encourage more comprehensive efficiency upgrade projects, resulting in higher energy savings for the homeowner and utilities. The single-family financing program we implemented in concert with Matadors Community Credit Union eliminated barriers like prepayment penalties and closing costs, and provided structured interest rates and payback periods. We set up a loan loss reserve to mitigate default risk, which enabled Matadors to offer lower interest rates. Matadors reviewed loan applications and Frontier Energy ensured the homeowners met program requirements. We also managed cash flow between escrow and reserve accounts, and provided transaction reports. As of November 2016, Matadors had funded $8.5 million for more than 500 energy efficiency projects.

Program Evaluation

San Antonio, Texas

Evaluation, Measurement and Verification (EM&V) quantifies past progress to date, but Frontier Energy offers more than that: a look ahead and a pathway to reach your goals. We take pride in our reputation for technically rigorous EM&V that withstands independent review. In recent years we have provided evaluation services for CPS Energy, the largest municipally-owned, vertically integrated electric and natural gas company in the U.S. Our team evaluates the savings impacts each year and prepares a comprehensive report for CPS Energy and the City of San Antonio municipal leadership. In addition to annual reporting we provide value-added EM&V services such as a savings guidebook that serves as a technical reference manual (TRM) specific to San Antonio’s climate and CPS Energy programs and measures.

Community Engagement

In the crazy, connected world of information, getting the word out is becoming increasingly difficult. Community engagement and outreach is where we shine. From stakeholder outreach to community events, we represent our clients and find innovative ways to reach target audiences. We know that community engagement is far more than a pretty website and a few followers on social media. (But we also create great websites, collateral, and social media!)

We reach low-income residents by partnering with local assistance programs. Testimonial videos extend the reach to this target market.

By participating in community events with interactive displays, we talk to hundreds of prospective customers in a day or two.

Friendly, low-key community workshops and lunch-and-learns bring experts about energy efficiency, financing, community choice energy, and other topics into neighborhoods and offices. Open discussions help transform skeptics into customers—and even into champions.

Local Governments

Codes and Standards

We’ve worked with local governments across the state of California to support energy efficiency, both directly as program implementers and indirectly as program customers and stakeholders.

We currently work with San Francisco Bay Area counties, the California Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission to reduce barriers for local code compliance, and provide resources for cities and counties interested in adopting energy efficiency and green building codes that are more ambitious than those in Title 24. And hundreds of people access the online library we maintain for BayREN.

Engineering and Modeling

Frontier Energy’s engineering support enables utilities to maximize savings while meeting regulatory goals. We maintain technical reference manuals and guidebooks that utilities use to estimate energy and demand savings associated with a range of energy efficiency measures. We also support cutting-edge utility R&D projects related to smart grid technologies, distributed renewable energy, alternative transportation, and energy storage.

Our experienced team designed and evaluated a Texas utility program that encouraged consumers to reduce their electricity use during dynamically called critical system peaks. As a result, participants reduced their energy use by 15% during peak periods.

Deemed Savings

More than 30 programs are using our Deemed Savings Engine to centrally maintain and administer measure impact calculations and installation requirements. Because we update the DSE annually to comply with current TRMs and other state-approved deemed savings filings, users don’t need to modify multiple tracking systems as energy efficiency measure savings estimates evolve. Utilities using the DSE report significant decreases in administrative maintenance time and calculation inconsistencies since adopting the tool. Learn more

Our engineering staff also calculate the deemed savings for new or improved technologies and update the TRMs for several investor-owned utilities, and a few municipal utilities as well.

Quality Assurance and Verification

Many of the efficiency programs we implement for our clients include measurement, verification, and/or quality assurance. Our trained team conducts engineering desktop reviews of projects and rebate applications, visual verifications, in-field inspections, and on-site contractor reviews to make sure all utilities and CCEs are getting the energy reductions they expect.

In a current project for the Department of Energy, the Frontier Energy team reads through Home Energy Score applications, consults with the contractors about correct documentation, and conducts on-site verification with each contractor on a regular basis. We worked with DOE to streamline their paperwork process to reduce a participation barrier for contractors and reduce our team’s time on the desktop QA. A winning solution for everyone!

Energy Assessments

Restaurants and farms are among the largest business energy consumers, and energy costs can mean the difference between profit and loss. Owners tend to be hands-on operators who rarely have time to attend an energy-conservation workshop or webinar. To reach these important businesses, we partner with utilities to send assessors to them.

Restaurants spend as much as 10% of their earnings on utilities. Our foodservice programs work with restaurants and other commercial kitchens, like schools, office buildings, and prisons, to show the staff how behavior changes can reduce water, electricity, natural gas, and food waste. We also work with the owner to ensure they are on the best utility rate structure and provide a list of appliances that can be upgraded, complete with a rebate list.

ACEEE estimates that the agricultural sector can save $1 billion per year in energy costs—and they say that is a conservative estimate. Our agriculture experts work with farm owners and operators, particularly with animal farms, to identify motor systems (especially irrigation pumping), ventilation, and lighting that can reduce energy expenses. We also work with local utilities and government agencies to identify farms that are good candidates for alternative energy, like solar and biogas.

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