Try one easy energy-saving resolution

The year is still young so it is not too late to make a resolution to use less energy in 2017–or to encourage your customers to do so. DOE Energy Saver recommends that people choose one easy step that makes them feel good and congratulate themselves each time they do it.

Just one thing, like turning off power strips when not using the connected electronics, or replacing a manual light switch in one busy room with an occupancy sensor, can add up to savings for your customers. In addition to saving energy, taking action builds awareness about energy use that could make your customers more receptive to bigger measures.

Check out the article on the Energy Saver blog and think about how your utility could use the “One Easy Step” strategy to start an energy-saving resolution campaign. And don’t forget to share your story with Energy Services Bulletin.

Have a happy, safe and efficient New Year.

Source: DOE Energy Savers, 1/4/17

Requested: Your ideas for UEF Pre-forum Workshop topics

The 37th annual Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. is just around the corner, and with it, the Pre-forum Workshop for utility and government attendees. This exclusive session is a candid roundtable discussion about pressing issues facing power providers and the government agencies that support them. The program committee is inviting attendees from those sectors to share their greatest concerns in an online survey You are leaving WAPA.gov. by Feb. 8. The topics that get the most votes will be included on the workshop agenda.

This year’s theme, “Change is the Only Constant – Customers, Policy and Technology,” sums up the challenges of doing business in today’s electricity industry. The main agenda offers many perspectives on what customers want, what utilities can do to meet those expectations and what policy makers can do to help.

The workshop, however, is the place to really get into the weeds on how change is reshaping everything from daily operations to long-term planning. If you are worrying about depreciating assets or new net-zero developments in your territory, this is the place to talk about it. If you wonder what kind of skills your employees will need to manage the new environment, suggest that topic. If you are trying to figure out how to work with customers who want to install energy storage batteries on their homes or businesses, the workshop offers the chance to learn from others. And that only scratches the surface.

You don’t have to be attending the Utility Energy Forum, May 3-5, to vote in the survey. All utility professionals and government representatives can contribute their valuable and much-needed perspective. For those who miss the event, Energy Services Bulletin will be reporting on the big stories, and speaker presentations will be posted on the website.

But there is nothing like a face-to-face conversation with your colleagues to get the wheels turning. We hope you will join us at the Hilton Sonoma in Santa Rosa, California, to share ideas, discuss solutions and think about where you—and our industry—are going.

Business customers rate SRP first in customer service

WAPA customer Salt River Project (SRP) You are leaving WAPA.gov. once again earned a top spot on the J.D. Power 2016 Calendar-Year Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study, You are leaving WAPA.gov. released Jan. 11. This is the fourth consecutive year and the seventh time in the last eight years SRP ranked highest in customer satisfaction for business electric service among large electricity providers in the West Region. The region covers Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

(Art by JD Power)

SRP’s overall customer satisfaction index was 797 out of a possible 1,000 points in the annual study – a 50-point performance increase from last year. The study examines overall satisfaction across six factors (in order of importance): power quality and reliability; corporate citizenship; price; billing and payment; communications and customer service. SRP scored highest in its category in power quality and reliability, corporate citizenship, billing and payment and communications.

More communication
According to the study, utilities are becoming more aware of the importance of engaging with their business customers, which is reflected in increasing communication. The study found that 52 percent of business customers recall at least one communication from their utility in the past six months, up from 49 percent last year.

“It is remarkable how utilities have improved as an industry in understanding the importance of being customer-focused,” said John Hazen, J.D. Power director in the utility and infrastructure practice. “In doing so, they hope to not only improve their financial performance, but also to be viewed more favorably by regulators.”

He added that business customers also tend to be more supportive of the investment plans utilities have in such projects as updating or developing their infrastructure.

Other findings
The study noted three more important trends in 2016:

  • Power outages – While the number of brief and lengthy power interruptions has not changed in the past six months, the average duration of the longest outage increased to 13.7 minutes from 11.9 minutes. Thunderstorms are the most common cause of the longest outages (26 percent), followed by snow and ice (12 percent).
  • Alerts – Since the previous study, the number of customers nationally signing up for electronic alerts increased more than 50 percent for outage alerts and 66 percent for monthly bill alerts.
  • Corporate citizenship efforts – Utility providers continue to ramp up their efforts to be good corporate citizens. For example, 70 percent of business customers say their electric utility provider supports economic development in the local community; 30 percent have seen utility employees volunteering or working in their community; and 43 percent are aware of their utility’s efforts to improve its effect on the environment.

The rankings from the J.D. Power study are based on interviews with representatives of more than 20,500 U.S. businesses that spend an average of $200 or more a month on electricity.

Source: Public Power Daily, 1/17/17

WAPA demonstrates powerful partnerships in FY 2016 Annual Report

Collaboration, innovation drive shared successPowerful Partnerships: Annual Report 2016 Western Area Power Administration

Western Area Power Administration published its Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report, titled “Powerful Partnerships,” Dec. 30. The publication provides WAPA’s stand-alone operational data and illustrates how collaboration and innovation contributed to the organization’s ability to continue delivering its mission.

WAPA’s annual report is available on The Source, a website dedicated to displaying operational data and financial information in one convenient location. Read more.

Source: WAPA Media Relations, 1/6/17

Upcoming deadlines

Nominations sought for APPA DEED awards for utility innovators

Deadline Jan. 31, 2017

It is time to gain recognition for your energy services programs and share your success stories with your customers, communities and industry colleagues. The American Public Power Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. (APPA) presents two awards annually to member utilities that embody the spirit of the association’s Demonstration of Energy and Efficiency Developments (DEED) program. The research and demonstration program funds innovative activities dedicated to improving the operations and services of public power utilities.

The Award of Continued Excellence (ACE) recognizes a DEED member utility that has demonstrated continued commitment to the DEED program and its ideals. Criteria include involvement in the DEED program, including grants and scholarships; commitment to energy-efficiency; investigation or use of renewable resources and support of public power. This year’s award presentation will take place during the 2017 APPA Engineering and Operations Technical Conference, May 7-10, in San Antonio, Texas.

Several WAPA customers are among past winners of the ACE, including Riverside Public Utilities, You are leaving WAPA.gov. City of Palo Alto, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Silicon Valley Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Platte River Power Authority.You are leaving WAPA.gov.

The Energy Innovator Award (EIA) recognizes utility programs that have demonstrated advances in the development or application of creative, energy-efficient techniques or technologies. Projects and programs that provide better service to electric customers or that increase the efficiency of utility operations or resource efficiency are eligible, too. Judges will take into account transferability and project scope in relation to utility size.

WAPA customer Moorhead Public Service received an Energy Innovator Award in 2016 for developing its Capture the Sun community solar garden. Lincoln Electric System, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Omaha Public Power District, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Alameda Municipal Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Salt River Project You are leaving WAPA.gov.  are other WAPA customers that have earned the award with innovative programs.

APPA may give up to three awards in a given year. The awards will be presented during the 2017 APPA National Conference, June 16-21, 2017, in Orlando, Florida.

Nominations for both the ACE and the EIA may be submitted via the web-based application process. Submissions must be received no later than Jan. 31. For questions, contact the DEED program staff at 202-467-2960 or 202-467-2942 or via email.

After completing your nomination, don’t forget to share it with Energy Services Bulletin. Every utility program has an important story to tell and all WAPA customers are winners.

Source: Public Power Daily, 1/5/17

Proven Practices: Engage Media to Garner Credibility

As challenging as it is to design an energy efficiency or renewable energy program for utility customers, getting the word out and driving adoption often seems like the greater struggle. You know how to come up with an approach that balances your utility’s goals with customer needs, ensure that quality equipment or systems are available in your area and streamline the application and installation processes. Now all you have to do is persuade your customers to get on board. Before you print another bill stuffer or pay for a newspaper or radio ad, visit the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center for some tips on building credibility through earned media.

Coverage that comes from good public relations may not generate immediate leads, but it can increase program recognition and lay the groundwork for future leads. A customer who has seen a news story about how a home energy upgrade helped a local family reduce electricity bills may pay more attention to the bill stuffer announcing your program. Timely content, such as a story about weatherizing or upgrading homes in the winter, can generate interest and even phone calls to customer service representatives.

The Residential Solution Center offers the following suggestions to earn media coverage:

  • Mark major milestones to spur momentum – Media outlets are interested in stories about the first or the biggest.
  • Keep content fresh and relevant – Refresh your messages about your program with stories about how it helped individuals, groups or the community.
  • Become a resource for energy efficiency – Your staff has experience and knowledge about issues that concern homeowners and contractors. Reach out to local home improvement shows and newspaper columns, or better yet, start your own.

Learn more 
Visit the Residential Solution Center to find more tips, examples and tools for marketing and outreach. If you haven’t used this online resource before, start the New Year by taking a tour of the Solution Center.

Source: DOE Better Buildings Initiative, 12/12/16

New Year offers many educational opportunities

Changes and challenges are coming to the utility industry in 2017, along with plenty of new tools and innovative approaches you can use to not only manage but master the shifting landscape. Here are some upcoming workshops and courses to help you prepare for what the New Year has in store:

Utility Scale Storage Battery Investments: The Technology, Challenges and Business Case You are leaving WAPA.gov. 
Feb. 7-8, 2017
San Francisco, CA

Storage batteries have been around for a while, but integrating them into transmission and distribution systems is new territory for electric utilities. Until recently, it was difficult to make a business case for investing in utility-scale storage. However, the integration of more intermittent and non-dispatchable resources into utility portfolios is changing the cost-benefit equation. Storage batteries provide high-speed response, controllability, modularity, scalability, expandability, flexibility and transportability—exactly the attributes utilities are going to need for the foreseeable future.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to expand your professional horizons and prepare for the changes coming to the utility industry.

This seminar provides an overview and guided tour of proven battery technologies from different manufacturers, challenges of interconnection, investment requirements, typical storage battery power purchase agreements, settlement equations and investment guidelines. The seminar materials cover the full spectrum of applications for utilities, regulatory agencies, project developers, private investors, finance firms, wholesale market participants and owners of wind and solar power plants.

The International Association for Continuing Education and Training You are leaving WAPA.gov. (IACET) has authorized energy training and consulting firm EUCI You are leaving WAPA.gov. to offer one continuing education unit for the course. Attendees will also receive a copy of the presentations and other reference materials.

Introduction to Forecasting for Utility/Power Industry Professionals You are leaving WAPA.gov. 
Feb. 7-8, 2017
New Orleans, Louisiana

Load forecasting has always been an invaluable tool for helping utilities manage uncertainty. But pre-computer era forecasting practices do not account for a host of bewildering conditions that now affect electricity use. Changes in the mix of supply- and demand-side resources, the impact of technology on the grid and access it allows to system and customer data and dramatic shifts in commodity prices are just a few of the factors that traditional methodologies are failing to capture.

Fortunately, new forecasting methods have been developed to address challenges such as demand forecasting, renewable generation forecasting and price forecasting. This course offers an introduction to modernized forecasting principles, practices and their applications in the utility industry. It will be loaded with examples and illustrations that translate these methodologies into the resulting utility practices.

Attendees will get the essential tools for making sense of today’s power environment and delivering proper guidance for industry decision-makers. An IACET credit is also available for this class.

AESP National Conference 2017 You are leaving WAPA.gov.
Feb. 13-16, 2017

Orlando, Florida

“Destination Innovation” is the theme of the 27th annual conference of the Association for Energy Services Professionals. This event draws top program managers, policy makers, implementers, marketers, evaluators, consultants and vendors in energy efficiency. The extensive agenda will cover the range of current topics in marketing, tools and technology, implementation, program design, research, evaluation and more.

In addition to speaker presentations, panel discussions and networking events, this year’s conference offers pre-conference training courses. Attendees can either focus on program planning, design and implementation or brush up on their critical thinking skills, while earning .5 CEU.

2017 PACENation Summit You are leaving WAPA.gov.
Denver, Colorado

Feb. 13-15, 2017

New and innovative versions of property-assessed clean energy (PACE) legislation and programs are gaining support across the country. Learn more about this 100-percent voluntary strategy to fund energy upgrades to buildings while creating jobs, increasing property value and making progress on state policy goals. The second annual Summit will offer an in-depth look into the growth in residential PACE financing, new PACE products, strategies and programs in development and more.

Newcomers and PACE practitioners alike can will benefit from the opening workshop, PACE 101 Workshop. Presentations will cover legislation to project implementation, including best practices in legislation, local ordinances, program design, financing options, marketing to building owners and training of contractors. Add a wide range of sessions led by PACE experts and an abundance of networking opportunities, and you have a crash course on a valuable tool for growing energy efficiency in your community.

Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov.
May 3-5, 2017

Santa Rosa, California

Program development and networking are central to the Utility Energy Forum, now in its 37th year. The sessions will challenge traditional thinking and ask attendees how they are preparing for a different energy utility industry than the one they knew.

This year’s theme, “Change is the Only Constant – Customers, Policy and Technology,” is appropriate not only for our industry, but also for the new location. The Hilton Sonoma, in Santa Rosa near California’s wine country, will host the forum. What hasn’t changed, however, are the sessions “ripped from today’s headlines” (or rather, from our daily experiences), the outstanding speaker roster, and the abundance of networking opportunities. WAPA Energy Services representatives will be there, too, and we look forward to some face-to-face time with our customers.

E Design 2020: Accelerating Utility Innovation for the New Energy Consumer You are leaving WAPA.gov. 
May 10-11, 2017
San Francisco, California

This first-of-its-kind event focuses on creating utility products, services and experiences for the customer of today and tomorrow. Forward-thinking utility leaders and experts from outside the utility space will explore innovative approaches and design-oriented experiences from a variety of industries to demonstrate how these strategies can be applied at utilities. E Design 2020 askes attendees to leave their comfort zone, uncover high-potential partnerships and discover ways to embrace technological changes that will affect residential and non-residential customers.

After introducing attendees to the design-oriented approach, the comprehensive agenda covers distributed energy, demand-side management, energy services, technology and targeted customer programs. The event highlights empathetic thinking to discover customers’ underlying needs and find new ways of developing products and services that will turn customers into allies.

Learn from past, shape future
It is not too late to benefit from some of the excellent training events of 2016, either. Presentations from the previous Utility Energy Forum and Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange You are leaving WAPA.gov. are available online.

You can also download materials from the Behavior, Energy & Climate Change Conference (BECC), presented annually by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The conference looks at human behavior and decision-making and how to use the knowledge to accelerate the transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon future. The session abstracts You are leaving WAPA.gov. and some PowerPoint presentations You are leaving WAPA.gov. are available for free, or you can buy the full proceedings.

This is the time to let ACEEE know what you would like to see on the 2017 BECC agenda. ACEEE will issue the call for abstracts Feb. 10 for presentations that:

  • Identify key lessons about behavior and decision making that advance energy/climate solutions
  • Help integrate research insights throughout the value chains of energy-using goods and services
  • Expand support for social science research as applied to the biggest contributors to today’s energy challenges
  • Facilitate knowledge accumulation, exchange and collaboration across analytical approaches from micro to macro (e.g., individual, group, organizational, societal behavior, and decision making)

Even if you can’t make it to any of these events, you still have plenty of options in online education. From the Community Solar Value Project You are leaving WAPA.gov. to webinars presented by the Energy Department’s Better Buildings Initiative to the American Public Power Association DEED programYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Make it your New Year’s resolution to check the events calendar on the Energy Services home page regularly and take time to expand your professional horizons.

Equipment Loan Program changes with the times

Chris Lyles, who took over as the new manager of WAPA’s Equipment Loan Program in August, is making some updates to the popular program that reflect the changing needs of our customers, as well as advances in technology.

The Equipment Loan Program stocks infrared cameras, power meters and other diagnostic tools for WAPA customers to borrow free of charge.

The Equipment Loan Program stocks infrared cameras, power meters and other diagnostic tools for WAPA customers to borrow free of charge.

Planning the future
The increasing availability of easy-to-use diagnostic tools is prompting Lyles to look at new ways the Equipment Loan Program can support WAPA customers. “It’s possible now to walk into Home Depot and pick up a pocket-sized infrared (IR) camera for a few hundred dollars that will serve the purpose for a home energy audit,” he observed. “So we are asking ourselves what other needs our customers have that the program can meet.”

One answer is to stock more sophisticated versions of consumer-level tools for linemen and electricians to use for industrial audits and transmission and distribution system maintenance. The boroscope, for example, allows the user to take thermal images in tight spaces where just pointing and shooting with an IR camera might fail to pinpoint the problem. Utility field crews can use the LineTracker power monitor to diagnose fast-moving and minute malfunctions in overhead lines.

Providing instruction on the proper use of borrowed equipment is another one of Lyles’s goals. Currently, customers can find general equipment training resources on the Energy Services website, but Lyles has something more specific in mind. WAPA plans to produce videos that explain how to use the equipment, and post them on WAPA’s YouTube channel. The URLs will be sent to customers in place of physical manuals when they borrow a tool, providing a quicker, easier start when using the equipment. Perhaps most importantly, the customized videos will give customers a more personal connection to Energy Services and WAPA.

Help shape the program
The Equipment Loan Program and Energy Services have always provided WAPA customers with a direct line to technical assistance and support for their maintenance, load management and planning needs. Those needs have evolved—a slow-sounding word for the rapid-fire change occurring in our industry—and we want to make sure our services keep pace. Your input, suggestions and feedback are crucial to the direction the program takes.

Tell us what kinds of tools you would like to see added to our library. “Our equipment inventory should reflect that we understand the changes going on in the industry and that we know how to help our customers deal with them,” Lyles explained.

If you know of an online resource that gave you a better understanding of a borrowed tool, share that with Energy Services. The same goes for that clever solution you discovered while using it. The Equipment Loan Program is your program and we are eager to hear how we can better serve you.