ENERGY STAR lists Top 5 reasons to give energy-efficient gifts

The holiday shopping season is about to shift into high gear, and new electronics will undoubtedly appear on many wish lists. Unfortunately, those gifts can come with a hidden price tag—higher utility bills in the New Year. Help your customers add energy efficiency to their shopping carts with these five suggestions from ENERGY STAR.EnergyStarXmas

  1. TVs offer the hottest featuresYou don’t have to sacrifice those sought-after bells and whistles like smart TV functionality, ultra-high definition, large screens, LED backlighting to keep your electricity bill down. ENERGY STAR-certified TVs offer all the latest features, as well as being more than 25 percent more energy-efficient than standard models.
  2. Sound bars sound even betterSound bars, wireless speakers and gadgets with Bluetooth connectivity are among the most popular new products, and some of the latest to earn the ENERGY STAR. You can make the audiophile on your list happy with gifts that are up to 60 percent more efficient.
  3. Give the “bright” giftENERGY STAR-certified LED, or light-emitting diode, bulbs make great gifts and stocking stuffers. Lighting technology is changing so quickly that it can be hard to keep track of the latest developments. Choosing the ENERGY STAR label is an easy way to make sure you get the energy efficiency and performance you expect. LED bulbs that earn the label are independently certified to ensure they deliver on brightness and color, and shine light where you want it.
  4. ‘Tis the season to be streamingTell your loved ones who like to stream movies and videos that laptops and tablets use the least amount of energy. Or better yet, give them an ENERGY STAR-certified slate or tablet. These personal devices use 10 times less power to stream than a game console does, seven times less power than streaming directly to a television and six times less than streaming to a desktop computer and monitor.
  5. The environment is on everyone’s wish listShopping for electronics can be overwhelming, but the little blue label makes the choice easier. ENERGY STAR products are designed and certified to save energy, a gift that keeps on giving long after the decorations are packed away and the last sugar cookie is eaten. It is the thought that counts and ENERGY STAR gifts show that you are thinking about innovative technology today and a cleaner environment tomorrow.

And although we would never recommend giving large home appliances as Christmas gifts, January and February are big months for those kinds of purchases. Use holiday bill inserts to remind your customers of the benefits of ENERGY STAR appliances and any customer rebates your utility offers.

Happy holidays from Western and ENERGY STAR.

Source: ENERGY STAR, 11/19/14

16th PLMA Spring Conference “Call for Presenters” now underway

The Peak Load Management AllianceRedirecting to a non-government site (PLMA) is seeking session presentation proposals through Friday, Dec. 12, for the 16th PLMA Spring Conference taking place April 28-29, 2015, in Tucson, Arizona. The program planning committee is searching for exceptional perspectives exploring best practices and cutting-edge issues that affect professionals who develop, implement and evaluate demand response programs.

It is NOT complicated!  Limit your session proposal to just one page and simply provide:

  • Presentation title and one-paragraph description as it might appear on the agenda
  • Presenter’s name, title, organization with one-paragraph bio as it might appear on the agenda
  • Brief explanation of why the session will be relevant and compelling to the audience

Need more reason to share? Selected presenters get a free conference registration!

If your presentation is chosen, don’t forget to let us know at Energy Services Bulletin. We are always on the lookout for stories about our customers’ successful and innovative load management strategies.

Read more.

Source: Peak Load Management Alliance, 11/21/14

Around the Web: NRECA Unveils Interactive Website Tracking Cooperative Solar Development

AroundTheWebThe National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has unveiled an interactive websiteRedirecting to a non-government site tracking solar development by electric cooperatives. Offering maps, data, photos and video, the website provides an overview and new details about the recent dramatic increase in cooperative-owned and purchased solar capacity.

Member-owned, not for profit co-ops either have online or are planning to develop 240 megawatts of owned and purchased solar capacity in 34 states. According to NRECA, this development is distinguished by its large footprint, rapid growth and potential for expansion.

“Co-op solar is consumer-owned solar,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “The solar website shows how the consumer-owned utility business model can spur innovation and expand solar capacity in regions where this resource had previously been written off as too expensive or not viable.”

Highlights of the new website include maps showing the co-op solar footprint, solar projects developed abroad by NRECA International and median income levels and co-op solar development. Visitors will also find a chart showing the cumulative growth of co-op solar capacity, and videos, pictures and stories of significant co-op solar projects throughout the nation.

The website complements NRECA research, funded by the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, to develop tools and business strategies to accelerate the deployment of utility-scale solar.

Co-ops are making significant investments in renewable resource generation, using loans from the Rural Utilities Service and other sources. With solar becoming more cost-competitive, electric co-ops are poised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new projects. In addition, co-ops purchase renewable energy from large projects such as the 31 MW Cimarron Solar Facility in New Mexico and the 7.7 MW Azalea Solar Power Facility in Georgia.

Source: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association via Renewables Biz, 11/8/14

Nominations open for 2014 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award

It is once again time to honor electric cooperatives for their leadership in developing the fastest growing form of generation in the U.S. The National Rural Electric Cooperative AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site (NRECA) has called for nominations for the 2014 Wind Cooperative of the Year Award. All NRECA member cooperatives are eligible to apply, and may nominate themselves or another system. There is no cost to enter.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy in partnership with the NRECA, the annual award recognizes electric cooperatives for commitment to bringing the benefits of wind energy to their customers. Past winners include:

  • Old Dominion Electric Cooperative
  • Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative
  • Iowa Lakes Cooperative
  • Minnkota Power Cooperative
  • Kodiak Electric Association
  • Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative
  • Alaska Village Electric Cooperative
  • Associated Electric Cooperative
  • Illinois Rural Electric Cooperative
  • Western Farmers Electric Cooperative
  • Holy Cross Energy
  • Basin Electric Power Cooperative
  • Great River Energy
  • East River Electric Power Cooperative
  • Golden Valley Electric Association

A panel of expert judges from across the electric power and renewable energy industries will evaluate nominations for:

  • Corporate leadership
  • Innovative marketing
  • Benefits to customers
  • Project creativity

The 2014 winners will receive their awards at the NRECA TechAdvantage ConferenceRedirecting to a non-government site in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 23 to 26, 2015.

To nominate a cooperative, download the nomination form and complete the second page, which must be used as a template for all nominations. Your nomination should explain how the cooperative demonstrated corporate leadership with wind power. The description may also include innovative marketing or customer education associated with nominees’ wind power program, how ratepayers benefited from the project and creative solutions to barriers the cooperative faced in securing wind power. Brevity is a virtue—judges may penalize responses that exceed 1000 words.

Submit the completed forms, along with relevant graphics or innovative marketing material, to:

Randy Manion
Desert Southwest Region
Western Area Power Administration
PO Box 6457
Phoenix, AZ 85005-6457

All nominations are due by close of business Jan. 5, 2015.

For additional information, contact Renewables Program Manager Randy Manion at 720-201-3285.

Upcoming deadlines

Congratulations to Riverside, California’s ‘Coolest City’

Energy Upgrade CaliforniaRedirecting to a non-government site, the California Air Resources BoardRedirecting to a non-government site (CARB) and the University of California’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy LaboratoryRedirecting to a non-government site named Western customer the city of RiversideRedirecting to a non-government site the winner of the CoolCalifornia City ChallengeRedirecting to a non-government site. The competition between 10 California cities to reduce their carbon footprint and better manage energy use began April 1. The cities earned points by individual households, small businesses and teams in the community by tracking their energy use and vehicle emissions.

Pictured from L to R: ARB Board Member Barbara Riordan, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, ARB Board Member Judy Mitchell, & ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. (Photo by California Air Resources Board)

Pictured from L to R: ARB Board Member Barbara Riordan, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, ARB Board Member Judy Mitchell, & ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. (Photo by California Air Resources Board)

The California Air Resources Board recognized the cities at its Oct. 23 meeting. Riverside competed alongside Arcata, Burlingame, Claremont, Corona, Chula Vista, Long Beach, Lynwood, Mission Viejo and Rancho Cucamonga. Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga, respectively, claimed the honor of second and third “Cool California Cities” in a hard-fought battle.

All participating cities will receive a portion of $100,000 prize based on their total points, with Riverside receiving the largest amount—$32,950. The prize money will go toward city programs that help the environment.

Getting residents involved
The challenge cities engaged nearly 4,000 households and civic groups in total to take simple, everyday actions to reduce their carbon footprint. Participants logged their monthly energy data and motor vehicle miles onto a website that determines how much carbon is being cut and calculates how many points those actions generated for each household and municipality.

More than 1,100 Riverside residents tracked their energy savings online and helped the city win the contest. Participants installed energy-efficient light bulbs, took to bicycles and walking and learned to think twice about turning appliances on. With fewer than half as many residents taking the challenge, Claremont came within 200,000 points of matching Riverside’s score of 3.5 million. Some steps contestants took, such as investing in rooftop solar or purchasing electric vehicles, will provide carbon reductions and additional savings for many years.

More than a game
Not only did the challenge save residents energy and money, it also demonstrated that cities play an important role in the state’s efforts to fight climate change and move toward a cleaner, more sustainable economy. Now in its second year, the competition had 40 percent more households and 60 percent more greenhouse gas reductions in half the time. Altogether, participants saved more than 800,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to removing more than 140 California homes from the grid or 80 automobiles from the road for a year.

Cash prizes for civic improvements, bragging rights and recognition are not the only reasons the cities took the challenge. CARB and its program partners also gained valuable information about how to motivate individuals to take voluntary steps to curb their carbon footprints. Voluntary actions are part of California’s ambitious climate plan, and CARB is developing tools and resources to support these non-regulatory efforts.

Participating cities realize that the challenge of energy management is not a one-time event. Managing energy efficiently, saving money and making homes and businesses more comfortable is a way of life. In taking the challenge, all of California’s “Cool Cities” are learning best practices to make their communities healthier and more sustainable, and that makes all of them winners.

Source: Fierce Energy via LinkedIn Utility Energy ForumRedirecting to a non-government site, 10/28/14

Data, coordination needed to unlock energy savings in water conservation

The water-energy nexus has received more attention lately, especially from Western customers grappling with long-term drought in their service territory. We understand the connection between the two resources: Producing electricity requires water, and moving, treating and re-treating water requires energy. Undoubtedly, there are opportunities to create cross-cutting conservation strategies, but so far, utilities and policymakers have paid little attention.

Watts in a Drop of Water: Savings at the Water-Energy Nexus,Redirecting to a non-government site a new paper from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), seeks to quantify the water-energy nexus across a range of energy intensities for water and wastewater services. It also examines the potential avoided energy consumption from water efficiency programs and provides estimates of the possible energy savings.

One barrier to creating a program template or sharing best practices is that the range of water’s energy intensity varies widely from system to system. This is largely due to differences in size of the water systems, pumping requirements between geographic locations and raw water characteristics. Drawing from existing data, the paper develops national estimates of energy savings associated with conserving water throughout the processes of conveyance, heating and water and sewage treatment. The data show a dramatic range of energy intensity, particularly in the water service sector (source, conveyance and treatment).

Another problem the paper identifies is that there is a lack of raw data on energy use by water and wastewater facilities across the country. Traditionally, energy and water utilities have siloed priorities, focusing only on delivering their respective products.

However, with increased interest in using energy efficiency to meet greenhouse gas and other pollutant standards, utilities and air regulators should be looking for every opportunity to achieve greater savings. The authors found that some local and state jurisdictions are seeking better documentation of water-energy interactions to facilitate more integrated program development and evaluation.

ACEEE concludes that there is a big opportunity for savings, but much more work needed to achieve them. Utilities and regulators need more data along, with solid methods to calculate energy savings from water conservation. If energy and water utilities are willing to collaborate on innovative projects, the benefits, particularly in states facing severe droughts,Redirecting to a non-government site would be huge.

Webinar explores community solar, wind projects

CEAlogoIn less than a decade, community-shared solar has gone from an idealistic dream to a viable renewables development strategy employed in some 50 communities nationwide. Utilities can choose to ignore this trend or seize the opportunity to partner with their customers and communities, while meeting their own clean energy goals. Find out What’s New in Community Solar and WindRedirecting to a non-government site on Nov. 18, a Clean Energy Ambassadors Redirecting to a non-government site (CEA) Lunchtime Webinar.

The presentation will cut through the confusion surrounding the many different paths to project development. Get an overview of emerging trends and take a closer look at a few projects, including utility-owned and third-party models, with a focus on lessons learned from prior green power and community wind programs. The webinar will also examine how community renewables can bring utilities and community members together to achieve shared goals.

CEA members will be familiar with speaker Jill Cliburn, a leader in the field of shared renewables. Her experience includes working on municipal utility and electric cooperative projects involving both solar and wind.

The free Lunchtime Webinar Series share winning strategies for energy efficiency and renewable energy development with community-owned utilities. For more information about webinars or other CEA programs, visit Clean Energy Ambassadors on the web or contact Emily Stark at 406-969-1040.

SRP surpasses energy-efficiency goals, heads for sustainability

Salt River ProjectRedirecting to a non-government site exceeded its annual goal of helping residential and commercial customers save energy and money through the Phoenix, Arizona-based utility’s energy-efficiency programs and initiatives.

Last year, SRP’s energy-efficiency programs for both residential and commercial customers provided annual energy savings equal to 2.3 percent of SRP’s retail energy sales. The Fiscal Year 2014 program goal was 1.5 percent of retail sales, so saving 640 million kilowatt-hours—the equivalent annual energy use of 35,000 homes—is quite an accomplishment.

“The energy-efficiency goal is part of our longer term Sustainable Portfolio Objective,” explained Dan Dreiling, SRP director of Market Research and Customer Programs. “SRP established an objective to meet 20 percent of our expected retail energy requirements with sustainable resources by 2020. Sustainable resources include energy efficiency, hydroelectric generation and other renewable generation.”

Energy efficiency is proving to be not only the most cost-effective way for SRP to help customers save energy and money, but also the sustainable resource with the most potential. The largest savings came from the Retail Lighting Program, which offered customers discounted prices on LED and CFL light bulbs. Reduced prices, which SRP provides to several big box retailers and home center stores, drove annual customer purchases to more than 2 million lamps.

Retail lighting programs, both commercial and residential, provided SRP with its biggest energy savings. (Photo by Salt River Project)

Retail lighting programs, both commercial and residential, provided SRP with its biggest energy savings. (Photo by Salt River Project)

Dreiling attributes the program’s considerable success to partnering with large, recognizable retailers, offering a diverse product mix and providing meaningful discounts on popular products. An effective multi-channel marketing campaign helped to spread the word to a relatively young energy-efficiency marketplace.

Cooling and more
Other high-performing programs that contributed to the goal include appliance recycling, Energy Star New Homes and rebates for Energy Star-certified, variable-speed pool pumps and, of course, efficient air conditioners. SRP offers substantial rebates for air conditioners and heat pumps with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, of 15 or higher.

The air conditioner rebate was so attractive that one energy-savvy SRP customer couldn’t resist. “Since I work in Energy Services, I am very aware of our home energy use,” said Western Public Utilities Specialist Patricia Weeks. “For the last several years, we have been watching our utility bills increase, and I suspected that our two 20-year-old, heating-and-cooling units were to blame.”

Weeks purchased two energy-efficient systems that qualified for the SRP rebate last winter. “Our home is more comfortable and our utility bill is averaging $24 less per month compared to last year,” she stated.

Residential customers also increased their comfort and savings with comprehensive home assessments and rebates for services and products such as home duct repair and window shade screens. “In terms of motivation,” Dreiling observed, “we have learned that increasing comfort and convenience is just as important to customers as saving money on their utility bill.”

For ‘bottom liners’
Lighting was the source of most of SRP’s commercial energy savings. Enhanced lighting rebates through Standard Business Solutions, large commercial and industry energy-efficiency projects through Custom Business Solutions and lighting retrofit projects under the Small Business Solutions program collectively saved nearly 179,000 MWhs of energy.

Fry’s Food Stores,Redirecting to a non-government site a Phoenix supermarket chain, participated in the SRP Business Solutions rebate programs to implement 50 projects in 30 metropolitan stores. So far, the grocery retailer has realized about 1.2 million kWh per year in energy savings. “SRP rebate programs help Fry’s continue to reduce our carbon footprint, which is good for the environment as well as our bottom line,” said Ben Tan, energy manager of Fry’s Food Stores Facilities Engineering.

Dreiling acknowledged that reaching commercial customers with efficiency programs is a challenge for SRP, as it is for so many utilities. “But we are seeing more and more customers moving in this direction,” he noted. “It comes down to demonstrating that efficiency is a value proposition, not only for the organization, but its customers, as well.”

The best advertisement for business efficiency programs is a success story like Fry’s Food Stores, he added.

Up next
Perhaps the biggest challenge an energy-efficiency program faces after a successful year is how to build on that success.

While the popular lighting program will continue, SRP plans to put more emphasis on its residential whole-house program in the coming year. Comprehensive solutions for the entire home have a higher price tag than energy-efficient light bulbs, but produce deeper energy savings for the homeowner. “We will continue to offer specific air conditioner-related savings measures, as well,” said Dreiling. “In Arizona, air conditioning is a primary energy consumer so managing that load is key to deferring future resource needs.”

Thanks to commitment and savvy energy planning, SRP seems well prepared for the future. The timetable for meeting its goal of 20 percent sustainable resources by 2020 is already ahead of schedule. Almost 13 percent of its retail energy needs currently come from wind, geothermal, solar, landfill gas, biomass and hydropower, as well as energy-efficiency programs. In balancing reliability, affordability and environmental stewardship, SRP is proving that energy efficiency tips the scale toward success.

City of Palo Alto Utilities awarded Public Power Utility of the Year

Palo Alto’s municipal utility takes solar energy mainstream in drive for 100% carbon-free electric supply

The Solar Electric Power AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site (SEPA), an educational nonprofit organization that helps utilities integrate solar electric power into their energy portfolios, has named the City of Palo Alto UtilitiesRedirecting to a non-government site (CPAU) as Public Power Utility of the Year. The award was announced on Oct. 21 at the Solar Power International conference in Las Vegas.

Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA, praised the municipal utility for “walking the talk” of community focus, and pointed to CPAU’s customer-friendly menu of solar services and tariffs. “The agency has demonstrated innovation and pragmatism in leveraging affordable solar to meet its goal of becoming a carbon-free utility,” Hamm stated.

Founded in 2005, SEPA’s annual awards recognize organizations and individuals advancing utility innovation, industry collaboration and leadership in the solar energy sector.

Palo Alto Mayor Nancy Shepherd called the award a tremendous honor for the city. “We continually strive to be on the cutting edge of environmental sustainability,” said Mayor Shepherd. “This award recognizes how public and private partnerships, along with forward-thinking community support for renewable energy, can allow cities to successfully reduce their carbon footprint.”

Road to carbon neutrality
The 2014 award recognizes the City of Palo Alto Utilities for its leadership and innovation in demonstrating solar energy’s viability as a mainstream power source. The utility has continuously increased the size of its solar electric portfolio. A recent power purchase agreement puts the city on track to have a 100-percent carbon-free electric supply portfolio by the year 2017. The city implemented a 100-percent carbon-neutral electric policy in 2013, purchasing energy from renewable sources, as well as purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset “brown” market power resources.

Most recently, The Palo Alto City Council approved a plan to encourage local solar generation, with options for community and group buys for customers who want to support solar energy but cannot install a solar system on their own property. With the Local Solar Program strategy, the utility aims to increase the local solar installations from 5 Megawatts (MW) at the end of 2013 to 23 MW by 2023.

The utility also offers customers a full set of solar services and incentives, including residential and commercial rebate programs, expedited permit processing, green power purchase premium options, workshops, one-on-one advice and coordination with industry representatives. A feed-in-tariff CPAU established in 2012 provides third parties with the opportunity to install solar arrays on local businesses and sell the energy back to the utility.

Western congratulates the City of Palo Alto on its award, and on its progress toward a carbon-neutral power supply. Energy Services is available to help all Western customers meet their planning and sustainability goals. Contact Energy Service Manager Ron Horstman or your regional Energy Services representative for more information.

Source: City of Palo Alto Utilities, 10/21/14