Projects

We’re proud of our recent work and new offerings. Click on the section headers below to learn more.

Texas Solar Incentives

Clients
Texas’ Investor Owned Electric Utilities
Problem
Design and offer an incentive for electricity customers who install solar PV systems on their homes and businesses.
Solution
Frontier Associates proposed and delivered a market transformation incentive program design in 2009 that became the model for all current investor-owned utility PV incentive programs in Texas.
Outcomes
Frontier’s solar program design and implementation services were employed by Oncor, AEP-Texas Central, AEP-Texas North, SWEPCO, Texas New Mexico Power Company, and Entergy starting in 2009, and El Paso Electric starting in 2010. In April 2010 Oncor reported to the Public Utility Commission of Texas that its solar PV program had been “successful beyond its wildest dreams” and announced its intent to accelerate availability of future funding to the current year. In 2011 Oncor announced $2.7 million in increased total support for the solar PV program. The number of PV Installers in Texas certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) increased from 12 to 127, and the number of active solar installation companies increased from 20 to over 200 between 2009 (when the programs first opened) and 2014. In 2010 Texas was listed among the nation’s top 10 solar states for the first time. By late 2014 the programs had provided nearly $30 million in incentives to over 1,600 projects totaling more than 17 MWdc of distributed solar installations.

Energy Pricing Design

Client
Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies
Problem
Determine how time of use rate structures influence residential energy consumption behavior, including consumption by residential customers with solar PV distributed generation and/or electric car charging loads.
Solution
Frontier designed innovative pricing models and other tools to shift electricity use away from dynamically-called critical system peaks and toward overnight periods in months of maximum inland wind production.
Outcomes
Rigorous statistical analyses showed that pricing signals, technology based tools and feedback to customers on their electricity use via a web portal drove positive and persistent behavioral change. Implemented statewide, Frontier’s time of use pricing design could successfully shift about 5% of Texas’ residential loads during shoulder months to night-time periods, equating to roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of available Texas wind generation during those periods. Final report available here.

EnerTrek® Program Portfolio Portal (P3)

Clients
5 Electric Utilities in Texas and New Mexico
Problem
Transparent and comprehensive program tracking and reporting are essential to the optimization of the conservation program cycle. Many utilities have inadequate data tracking solutions for conservation program portfolios. Disparate spreadsheets and databases with inconsistent schemas limit the transparency and efficiency of program administration.
Solution
In an effort to promote consistency in data tracking and reporting, to boost the accuracy of deemed savings and incentive calculations, and to streamline program participation, administration, and evaluation processes, Frontier Associates designed the Program Portfolio Portal (P3) platform. Leveraging the latest technology and best practices in software design, the P3 platform features a single user interface for all energy efficiency programs within a utility’s portfolio. The platform is built flexibly and highly customizable to easily accommodate future program requirements and changes through user-driven system configurability. Robust reporting capabilities put portfolio performance at the user’s fingertips. A user-friendly interface makes participation simple for utility customers and trade-allies.
Outcomes
Five utilities have subscribed to the P3 platform so far. Frontier Associates expects to greatly expand its subscriber base by 2016. A growing, collaborative user group, consisting of utility administrators and industry experts, will continue to help drive the platform enhancement roadmap for years to come.

Water Conservation

Client
City of Austin Water Utility
Problem
Obtain a better understanding of the effectiveness of a wide variety of programs aimed at encouraging water conservation.
Solution
Frontier created regression models to illuminate complex relationships between water consumption, weather, and impacts of conservation programs and irrigation restrictions on residential, commercial, and wholesale water customers.
Outcomes
Frontier’s evaluation helped Austin Water to quantify the effectiveness of its conservation efforts and negotiate with wholesale water suppliers, leading to reduced costs for its customers.

Smart Grid Technologies

Client
Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies
Problem
Gain a better understanding of how residential rooftop solar PV and electric car charging affects electrical power quality both within the residence and on residential utility distribution circuits.
Solution
As part of a Smart Grid Regional Demonstration Project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Frontier collaborated with other project partners to monitor power quality on 35 kV residential circuits in comparable neighborhoods with and without solar PV, and on behind-the-meter residential electrical circuits on homes with PV and/or electric car charging.
Outcomes
Power quality data demonstrated that solar PV inverters conforming to current standards contribute very little distortion to residential electrical circuits.We were able to demonstrate that the presence of distributed generation enables distortion from other devices on the grid to appear higher relative to total utility load at certain times.The project team concluded that, to the extent this condition exists in a given neighborhood, the utility at times will be supplying only distortion current and reactive power, leading to high relative distortion and sagging power factor on distribution circuits. The project team also identified a number of candidates for follow up research. Final report available here.

Low Income Energy Efficiency

Clients
Various Gas and Electric Utilities in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas
Problem
Low income energy efficiency programs pose unique challenges related to funding sources, administration, and local contractor outreach. The significant economic and societal benefits these programs offer must be quantified and reported to regulatory agencies, sometimes separately from other utility efficiency programs.
Solution
One of Frontier’s core areas of expertise is the design and implementation of utility low income energy efficiency programs: Frontier evolved from Planergy, formerly one of the US’s leading energy services companies, where Frontier Vice President Phil Audet designed, managed, and evaluated residential weatherization programs in fourteen states. Frontier services for low income energy efficiency include program design, implementation, contractor outreach and training, and regulatory reporting of program achievements. Frontier also provides online tools for low income energy efficiency program application, tracking, savings calculation, and reporting of impacts.
Outcomes
Between 2007 and 2012 Frontier provided well over $30 million in low income energy efficiency services to utility low income program participants. In 2012 alone, Frontier assisted Texas utility clients with weatherizing over 5,000 homes, delivering over $12 million in savings. The online program tracking solution Frontier developed for the Arkansas Weatherization Collaborative captures information from all Arkansas gas and electric utilities’ low income programs and interfaces with the National Energy Audit Tool (NEAT) to streamline data collection.

Green Building

Client
Austin Energy
Problem
Improve the day-to-day operation and flexibility of Austin Energy’s internationally-recognized Green Building program
Solution
Frontier helped Austin Energy move its ratings process to an online data collection, certification, reporting, and scorecard management system that is adaptable to both single- and multi-family residential projects as well as commercial buildings.
Outcomes

Austin Energy employees are able to create thousands of highly customizable scorecards to convey their expansive efficiency measures to their clients. The interface allows clients to submit their own efficiency measure suggestions, which can then be rated if desired.Frontier’s Green Building Rating System tool has been very well received by Austin Energy, the local building industry, and the general public. The tool is now being utilized by builders outside the Austin Energy service territory, a “spillover effect” indicative of the tool’s user-friendliness and configurability for the building industry.In April 2012, the Austin Energy Green Building Rating System processed its 10,000th single-family home since the program began in 1991 as the first of its kind in the nation.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat, selected the Austin Energy Green Building Program as the only U.S. initiative to receive the 2011 Scroll of Honor award, the most prestigious human settlements award in the world.

Technical Resource Manuals

Clients
Electric utilities and regulatory agencies in Texas and Arkansas
Problem
Formalize, standardize and improve processes for the evaluation of energy efficiency programs.
Solution
Frontier developed deemed savings calculations that serve as a primary means of simplified evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V) for appropriate projects and are the foundation of the energy efficiency Technical Reference Manual (TRM) in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. This work has involved producing or verifying demand and energy savings impacts resulting from dozens of end-uses, including renewable energy technologies such as solar water heating and photovoltaic systems. The TRM is considered a living document and Frontier leads or contributes to the review of measures to ensure that efficiency and installation standards, measure life, and other critical issues are current and reflect actual field conditions and best practices. As part of this review, Frontier works closely with program evaluators and independent monitors to ensure that EM&V Protocols are met.
Outcomes
Frontier’s rigorous and detailed research activities create deemed savings that help utilities accurately plan their systems’ future needs. The latest versions of the Texas and Arkansas TRMs are linked on our Resources page.

Innovative Financing – PACE

Definition
PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. It is a new and innovative method of financing energy and water efficiency improvements and renewable/distributed energy installations on existing commercial and industrial properties by creating county or municipal assessments to secure the loans. The Texas Legislature and Governor authorized local governments to establish PACE programs in 2013.
Problem
Provide assistance to local governments and market participants to get local PACE energy efficiency financing programs up and running.
Solution
Frontier’s engineers and consultants played instrumental roles in developing PACE-in-a-Box, Texas’ PACE program design. Frontier offers a full suite of consulting services aimed at helping local governments through the process of initiating PACE programs that are consistent with PACE-in-a-Box recommendations and scalable. Frontier is uniquely qualified to support jurisdictions in implementing PACE programs, having run commercial and residential energy efficiency programs for investor-owned, municipal and cooperative electric and gas utilities for 15+ years. We offer full program management services, paid for by program participants, and our engineering team can provide required third party verification of savings calculations and installations.
Outcomes

Frontier’s experience enables our team to perform the following services related to PACE:

  • Market research to set program goals and metrics
  • Savings calculations – deemed savings, energy simulations, measurement & verification
  • Utility incentive program design, marketing, oversight, impact and process evaluation
  • Application intake, processing and program disbursements
  • Web page creation and management
  • On-line application and tracking tools currently deployed
  • Application technical review (Texas Professional Engineering Firm, License F-11189)
  • Program implementation (field personnel located around the state)
  • Program regulatory support and reporting

Frontier is Texas-based and not tied to financiers or energy efficiency vendors. Frontier can help you jump-start your PACE program. Contact us.

EnerTrek® Deemed Savings Engine

Client
16 electric and gas Utilities in Texas, Arkansas, and New Mexico
Problem
In many states, deemed savings calculations and technical requirements for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs have been consolidated into state-specific Technical Reference Manuals (TRM). These TRMs guide utilities, trade allies, and program participants through the technical requirements and calculations related to implementing and quantifying the impacts of various energy conservation measures. The complexity and comprehensiveness of the TRMs can make adherence to the many requirements difficult. Additionally, ongoing updates and revisions to the TRMs present a further challenge to keep all programs and their respective tracking systems in compliance with new requirements.
Solution
Frontier Associates designed and built the Deemed Savings Engine (DSE), which allows utilities to centrally maintain and implement deemed savings, while enforcing installation requirements. The DSE eliminates the need to modify multiple tracking systems as the TRM evolves, offers automated calculations and data validations in accordance with the TRM and seamlessly integrates with other tracking systems. Central management of calculations and validations promotes consistency and accuracy across utility programs and minimizes the administrative burden of annual updates.
Outcomes
Frontier has successfully deployed the Deemed Savings Engine in Texas, Arkansas, and New Mexico to implement each respective state’s TRM for subscribing utilities’ programs. The Deemed Savings Engine has seamlessly integrated with over a dozen program tracking systems to provide deemed savings calculations and installation standard validations for over 30 unique programs. Utilities have experienced a dramatic decrease in administrative maintenance time and occurrences of calculation inconsistencies since adopting the Deemed Savings Engine.

Green Button Data

Client
MaRS Discovery District and the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Ontario Canada
Problem
In late 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Energy and MaRS Discovery District launched a pilot project to test the implementation of the Green Button Connect My Data standard, a US energy data exchange standard which allows consumers to access and share their energy consumption data with third-party energy services solution providers of their choice in a secure and standardized way. One of the goals of this first-ever implementation of Green Button Connect My Data in Canada was to  validate the hypothesis that access to more timely and user-friendly energy data can drive consumers to change their behavior and reduce energy consumption.
Solution
Frontier proposed and was selected to implement an evaluation plan which included technology, business process, solution outcome, and customer and vendor response metrics. The pilot featured 2 electric utilities, 8 energy services solution providers (from Canada and the US) and about 100 residential customers.
Outcomes
Frontier Associates performed  the evaluation, measurement and verification process and identified a statistically significant initial residential conservation effect, resulting from the use of Green Button Connect My Data energy management solutions.