Opinion Dynamics has served as Ameren Illinois’ research and evaluation partner since the start of their energy efficiency portfolio in 2008. As the only dual-fuel (electric and gas) program administrator in Illinois, Ameren Illinois is uniquely positioned as a program administrator in the state we work closely to ensure that unique position is represented in our evaluation efforts.

We provide advising services for Ameren Illinois on a regular basis, including support in program design, stakeholder engagement, and evaluation methodology and framework guidance. We also provide a comprehensive suite of evaluation services including annual evaluation planning and management, program-tracking database review, quantitative and qualitative research, onsite M&V and data collection, net-to-gross research, cost-effectiveness analysis, and engineering and statistical analysis. Additionally, we are regular participants in two major statewide and multi-utility Illinois forums; the Energy Efficiency Stakeholder Advisory Group and the Illinois Technical Advisory Committee. In both groups, our team frequently leads stakeholder discussions on diverse subjects, including evaluation studies on specific topics and refinement of protocols for net-to-gross analysis. 

As Ameren Illinois’ integrated portfolio has matured, we have utilized annual process and impact evaluations of the utility’s residential and nonresidential energy efficiency programs to monitor portfolio health and performance. The programs, which provides both electric and gas savings, are comprised of a full suite of residential offerings, business offerings, and pilots including virtual commissioning and market transformation programs. Examples of specific support we have provided for Ameren Illinois include:

Societal non-energy impact (NEI) research to support annual cost-effectiveness testing and planning. We conducted a societal NEI estimation study to quantify benefits associated with emission reduction from the Ameren Illinois energy efficiency portfolio. Benefits from both avoided electric generation and localized gas combustion were quantified, monetized for inclusion in cost-effectiveness testing, and utilized in Ameren Illinois’ most recent energy efficiency plan filing with the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Voltage Optimization Program evaluation. The evaluation of Ameren Illinois’ Voltage Optimization Program is a first-of-kind for the utility and explores critical areas of grid modernization and estimating the impacts of a newly-deployed technology. We estimate impacts from voltage optimization deployment on new feeders each year and conducts retrospective verification activities, as well as supporting Ameren Illinois in helping to better understand what to expect from voltage optimization moving forward.

Net-to-gross review and research. For both the residential and nonresidential portfolios, we provide ongoing feedback on net-to-gross ratios (NTGRs) for planning purposes. We also conduct regular retrospective net-to-gross research to inform updating NTGRs for prospective use under the Illinois evaluation framework.

Key to the ongoing success of Ameren Illinois’ long-standing energy efficiency portfolio is the receipt of timely, accurate, and meaningful evaluation of the portfolio in its entirety. By the nature of our matrix organization, we are able to provide a comprehensive range of advisory, evaluation, and other support – each at the highest level.