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4.16.21 - Goodbye TOB, Hello SUI?

Hi PAYS Pals - Welcome back!


We’ve been on hiatus while we focused on finishing our Upgrade Everyone project Prospectus for the $10M 2030 Climate Challenge team: Solar United Neighbors, Clean Energy Works, LibertyHomes, NREL, and Resource Media. More on that in a future newsletter.


A critical question that we need you to weigh in on today by completing this quick 2 questions google form is: Should we change the name of the overarching category of which PAYS® is a part from “tariffed on-bill” to something else?


We would like to propose Site-specific Utility Investment (SUI), unless someone else can propose a better term for the category.

We advocate for always using the terms Pay As You Save® and PAYS® for programs using site-specific utility investment with site specific cost-recovery on inclusive terms with specific consumer protections, but policy advocates, policy makers, and researchers need a broader categorical term to enable taxonomic classification. The terminology of "tariffed on-bill" established several years ago in a long discussion between Clean Energy Works and ACEEE's since-departed staff working on finance ultimately iterated on the phrase "on-bill financing" (OBF) to create the categories of tariffed on-bill (TOB) and on-bill loans (OBL). Later, the Department of Energy chose the term “on-bill tariff”, which it treated as distinct from other on-bill financing, but failed to independently category (See figure below from the now outdated "Current Practices in Energy Efficiency Financing" by LBNL (2016)).


Unfortunately, the use of “Tariffed On-Bill” has led to confusion with “TOB” always treated as a subcategory of OBF and analogous to OBL, which in turn leads to the continuous mistaken assumption that “TOB” is a type of loan or largely similar to one.


In addition, the term “tariffed on-bill” fails to communicate the distinguishing feature of these programs: They are a vehicle for utility site-specific investment and cost-recovery. The fact that costs are recovered on bill is not a material feature.


To our good fortune the field has an opportunity to prevent future confusion and introduce accurate terminology. EPA is updating its Clean Energy Financing Tool, which is a database of financial instruments with a set of filters to help state and local leaders identify options compatible with their interests and priorities and has invited our input.


EPA's re-engagement presents an opportunity to provide more clarity to the field by updating the terminology. In particular, dropping "on-bill" in favor of "site-specific" and correctly replacing "financing" with "investment" is more accurate and descriptive. The result: Site-Specific Utility Investment.


Please reply with feedback on this proposal to update the terminology in order to end the stream of unproductive conversations explaining the meaning of "tariffed on-bill" as a consistently misinterpreted label.

Hi PAYS Pals - Welcome back!


We’ve been on hiatus while we focused on finishing our Upgrade Everyone project Prospectus for the $10M 2030 Climate Challenge team: Solar United Neighbors, Clean Energy Works, LibertyHomes, NREL, and Resource Media. More on that in a future newsletter.


A critical question that we need you to weigh in on today by completing this quick 2 questions google form is: Should we change the name of the overarching category of which PAYS® is a part from “tariffed on-bill” to something else?


We would like to propose Site-specific Utility Investment (SUI), unless someone else can propose a better term for the category.

We advocate for always using the terms Pay As You Save® and PAYS® for programs using site-specific utility investment with site specific cost-recovery on inclusive terms with specific consumer protections, but policy advocates, policy makers, and researchers need a broader categorical term to enable taxonomic classification. The terminology of "tariffed on-bill" established several years ago in a long discussion between Clean Energy Works and ACEEE's since-departed staff working on finance ultimately iterated on the phrase "on-bill financing" (OBF) to create the categories of tariffed on-bill (TOB) and on-bill loans (OBL). Later, the Department of Energy chose the term “on-bill tariff”, which it treated as distinct from other on-bill financing, but failed to independently category (See figure below from the now outdated "Current Practices in Energy Efficiency Financing" by LBNL (2016)).


Unfortunately, the use of “Tariffed On-Bill” has led to confusion with “TOB” always treated as a subcategory of OBF and analogous to OBL, which in turn leads to the continuous mistaken assumption that “TOB” is a type of loan or largely similar to one.


In addition, the term “tariffed on-bill” fails to communicate the distinguishing feature of these programs: They are a vehicle for utility site-specific investment and cost-recovery. The fact that costs are recovered on bill is not a material feature.


To our good fortune the field has an opportunity to prevent future confusion and introduce accurate terminology. EPA is updating its Clean Energy Financing Tool, which is a database of financial instruments with a set of filters to help state and local leaders identify options compatible with their interests and priorities and has invited our input.


EPA's re-engagement presents an opportunity to provide more clarity to the field by updating the terminology. In particular, dropping "on-bill" in favor of "site-specific" and correctly replacing "financing" with "investment" is more accurate and descriptive. The result: Site-Specific Utility Investment.


Please reply with feedback on this proposal to update the terminology in order to end the stream of unproductive conversations explaining the meaning of "tariffed on-bill" as a consistently misinterpreted label.




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