“Convince Me” Series: Power Up Your Midstream Program to Fuel Electrification and Decarbonization

Shubhum Sidhar, DNV, 12/23/2021

Here at DNV, we have a unique understanding of the energy transition, which is of strategic importance to us as well as our customers. It is our fervent belief that the energy industry can and must take the lead in driving the energy transition. We discussed the hurdles with a diverse group of experts across the DNV Energy Systems teams and issued a challenge: Convince me that the energy transition is possible. 

Discover how to optimize your midstream program to accelerate electrification and decarbonization efforts.

A key aspect of advancing electrification and decarbonization is getting the right products – whether heat pump water heaters, rooftop solar panels, LED lighting, or other products – into the hands of the consumers. And one of the ways utilities achieve this is through financial incentives and rebates.  

But for incentives and rebates to drive results, the consumer must be aware of these products, their benefits, and the financial rewards attached. Furthermore, they must be able to understand which products best meet their needs. That’s where an effective midstream program can help.  

In this article, I’ll share how utilities can streamline and amplify their midstream program to accelerate electrification and decarbonization.  

Capturing incentives and rebates at the point of sale 

As technology advances, consumers are increasingly opting for more energy efficient products. And from a distributor perspective, providing incentives and rebates to consumers can help increase sales. But many midstream programs fall short because distributors find them burdensome. All too often the user experience involves a cumbersome and confusing application process, with long approval wait times—and the financial risk of rejected applications. 

On the other hand, a good midstream program understands and complements the procurement process. It provides distributors the ability to verify eligibility quickly and easily at the point of sale, minimizing financial risk and administrative hassle.  

Another benefit of an effective midstream program is traceability. Validating where incentivized equipment gets installed can be challenging for utilities. The most effective midstream programs provide end-to-end tracking, from point of sale to installation. Traceability enables utilities to demonstrate program benefits and outcomes and verify that expected savings were achieved. 

How utilities are driving success with effective midstream programs 

A great example is ComEd’s Business Instant Lighting Discounts (BILD) midstream program. The program aims to increase the use of energy efficient lighting products amongst business customers. The program eliminated the incentive application process for individual customers. Instead, the program enabled distributors to validate eligibility at the point of sale and lower the price of energy efficient equipment, with incentives paid upon submission of sales data. By streamlining the midstream process, ComEd increased sales of screw-in LEDs by 147% and linear fluorescent lamps by 238% in just one year, surpassing energy savings goals.  

Consumers Energy has also implemented an effective midstream program, offering instant discounts on HVAC, lighting, food service, and agriculture equipment at the point of purchase. “After eight years of providing a very successful downstream program to our customers in the energy efficiency realm, it was necessary to provide our customers a hassle-free, no-wait avenue to retrofit their facilities,” says Rudolph Chahine, Consumers Energy. “The humble start of the midstream program in 2017 at 10K MWh goal in six months proved to be a nice start that ballooned to 55K MWh in 2021, or 15% of the core program goals through a network of 79 local and Midwest suppliers.”   

20211108_Power up your midstream program to fuel electrification and decarbonization - image

Figure 1: As Consumers Energy added new products to its midstream program, kWh savings also increased. 
Zondits source: https://www.dnv.com/article/power-up-your-midstream-program-to-fuel-electrification-and-decarbonization-211371

Accelerate electrification with the right midstream tool 

One of the keys to a successful midstream program is having the right tools. Part of the EVOLVE Digital SuiteEVOLVE Midstream enables both retailers and distributors to scale participation in incentive programs at the point of sale. Designed with feedback from distributors, EVOLVE Midstream makes it easy to quickly find appropriate incentivized products and determine eligibility using a responsive, user-friendly portal.  

Furthermore, EVOLVE Midstream accelerates rebate and incentive processing, enabling distributors to lower prices without financial risk. The tool even provides insights to help distributors drive sales. From a utility perspective, the tool saves time processing incentives through automation and helps ensure products are installed within their territory. 

There are many ways to accelerate electrification and decarbonization efforts. Approaching this effort from all angles will help the world meet growing demand while balancing energy usage. For more information about accelerating electrification, check out the #ConvinceMe series, kicked off by Nick Brod. To learn how DNV can help you fast-track electrification with your midstream program, reach out to us.