Overton Power District plans to succeed

On the wide spectrum of utility policies that encourage customers to adopt renewable energy systems, Overton Power District 5 You are leaving WAPA.gov. (OPD) is on the ambitious end of the spectrum.

Desert Southwest Energy Services Representative Audrey Colletti pointed out the strategy in OPD’s most recent integrated resource plan (IRP). “I look for customer goals and achievements in their IRPs and alternative reports,” explained Colletti.

“For example, one customer hasn’t increased rates in over five years, while another is thinking of decreasing rates. Some offer renewable power that is less expensive than fossil generation, but it is unusual for a small customer to make such an aggressive push to add more renewables.”

Residential solar installations like this 10-kW array benefit from a net-metering policy Overton Power District 5 developed to grow the renewable energy portion of its power portfolio. (Photo by Randall Ozaki, OPD5)

Residential solar installations like this 10-kW array benefit from a net-metering policy Overton Power District 5 developed to increase the amount of sustainable electricity in its power portfolio. (Photo by Randall Ozaki, OPD5)

The Southern Nevada power provider is playing the long game with an eye on someday generating most of its own electricity through renewables. “But that day is a long way off,” acknowledged OPD General Manager Mendis Cooper. “Our current goal is to provide ways to help our customers.”

Keeping customers in mind
Happily, the steps OPD is taking to increase renewables in its portfolio are also good for its 15,000, mostly residential customers. Its generous net-metering policy for small renewable systems is a notable step. Customers who install renewable generators that comply with OPD policies are eligible to receive a rebate of up to $2,500 for homeowners and up to $5,000 for large commercial industrial accounts. Since OPD implemented the policy, 49 net meters have been installed.

Increasing energy-efficiency programs is also part of OPD’s long-range plan that benefits customers in the near term. Thanks to a power contract, OPD will soon be stepping up its efforts to move customers to more efficient appliances and water and space heating systems. “We see natural gas as a reliability measure, but the savings will help to finance more customer efficiency measures, too,” Cooper explained.

Piecing together affordable sustainability
Even with the high cost of tapping gas lines, low natural gas prices are a boon to OPD—for now. “In eight to 10 years, gas prices are likely to go up,” said Cooper. “The cost of renewable resources, which are getting more competitive all the time, won’t be rising.”

The transition to a sustainable power supply is challenging for a utility that must rely on other providers for both generation and transmission, as OPD does. Cooper would like to get more WAPA hydropower, but acknowledges that ongoing drought conditions make that unlikely. OPD now has 49 rooftop solar arrays on its system, but the utility is investigating the feasibility of and support for utility-scale development. “That is where our customers will really see the benefits of alternative energy,” the general manager observed.

OPD also offers customers rebates for wind turbines and ground-source heat pumps.

Using all tools
OPD’s comprehensive long-range plan presents other opportunities—and identifies challenges—for load management as well. A scheme to install low-impedance transformers and implement power factor correction promises to increase systemwide efficiency.

With spillover growth from Las Vegas expected to add load over the next five years, OPD is working to encourage Clark County to adopt high-efficiency building standards. Programs to rebate measures such as weather stripping, relamping, heat pump systems and window replacement are being considered for existing buildings.

Another, nearly inexhaustible resource—an engaged and energy-savvy customer base—factors into OPD’s plans, too. The IRP highlights the utility’s use of social media to educate its customers about building technology, appliance energy use, efficient equipment and systems and no-cost common sense behaviors.

It will take every tool at OPD’s disposal to move its portfolio toward clean resources and self-generation. But that is what long-term planning is for, notes Cooper. “The IRP keeps our goals at the forefront where we can’t forget about them, and it reminds us every day of the issues we have to address.”

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Learn more about WAPA from these resources

Our mission in Energy Services is to keep WAPA customers informed about tools and technologies that help you with resource planning. Now, for those who would like to know more about how WAPA works and why, we offer two online resources: The Source and The Customer Circuit.

The theme for the Customer Circuit Spring 2016 was working with Washington D.C.

The theme for the Customer Circuit Spring 2016 was working with Washington D.C.

Launched in spring of this year, The Source is a one-stop online shop for operational data and financial information about WAPA. Western Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel explained, “We recognize people’s desire to have information at their fingertips. With that in mind, we created this site for stakeholders and the public to quickly find the information they need. When our customers have requests, we are well positioned to deliver.”

Nearly all the information is already available throughout Western’s primary website. The Source, however, provides one convenient location for visitors to find WAPA’s annual reports, budget allocation, presentations and speeches, regional rates and a searchable index of WAPA’s power systems called “By the Numbers.”

The Customer Circuit is a quarterly newsletter that provides customers with information about WAPA’s operations, programs, budget and initiatives. Each issue explores a specific theme; the most recent issue includes a story about how WAPA’s Washington, D.C., Liaison Office works with other federal agencies. The winter issue covered the state of WAPA’s assets including regional offices, hydrology conditions, transmission, security and cyber assets. Customers and other visitors can download the Customer Circuit, including past issues, on The Source.

The Source and Customer Circuit, like WAPA’s website redesign project, are all part of the same effort to enhance and expand transparency and to improve our website functionality. We encourage customers to visit the WAPA website and take the redesign survey. If you would like to have more input in how WAPA shares information with its customers, contact Public Affairs at 720-962-7050, to volunteer for remote user testing.

Chief Public Affairs Officer Teresa Waugh said, “Our goal is to present relevant and timely information in the clearest, most efficient way possible.”

Utilities talk safety at 2016 Fall Protection Symposium

More than 150 attendees from across the United States, Canada and even Europe came to Loveland, Colorado, May 17-18, to share best practices in utility field work, get an update on federal regulations and learn about the latest advances in safety equipment.

The two-day Fall Protection Symposium featured expert speakers from utilities, government agencies and equipment manufacturers.

The two-day Fall Protection Symposium featured expert speakers from utilities, government agencies and equipment manufacturers.

Navigating new rules
The 2016 Fall Protection Symposium, cosponsored by Western and Tri-State Generation and Transmission AssociationYou are leaving WAPA.gov. offered an in-depth look at all these topics in depth. With the new fall protection standards Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enacted last year, on-the-job safety has become a lot more complex, and many utilities are still climbing the learning curve.

Modesto Irrigation District, You are leaving WAPA.gov. a water and electricity provider in California’s Central Valley, is just beginning to develop its fall protection program. MID Line Construction Manager Marty Gonzalez came to the event in part for the networking opportunities. “We want to learn more about what utilities with established programs are doing,” he explained.

Latchways fall protection system manufacturer continually collects data from utility workers to improve their equipment design.

Latchways fall protection system manufacturer continually collects data from utility workers to improve their equipment design.

Tools improving
Gonzalez also hoped to pick up more safety tips for MID crews and look for better tools, an interest many attendees shared.

Several equipment manufacturers were on the agenda and had tables in the conference room to display their latest products. Vendor presentations ranged from the traditional—harnesses, belts, fasteners and ropes—to high-tech. In the latter category, Fabio Bologna from the Electric Power Research Institute discussed the barriers as well as the potential for drone use in utility maintenance work.

Todd Horning & Brian Bourquin of Safety One Training demonstrate a shepherd’s hook during their presentation on Tuesday of the Fall Protection Symposium.

Todd Horning & Brian Bourquin of Safety One Training demonstrate a shepherd’s hook during their presentation on Tuesday of the Fall Protection Symposium.

Keeping up with OSHA
The 2016 symposium attracted many alumni from the previous event who were eager to hear about lessons learned from the first year of applying OSHA regulations. “Things can change quite a bit in one year, so it is worthwhile to get updates and talk about where we can make improvements,” noted Sam Waggoner of Xcel Energy.

David Wallis, who authored and contributed to safety and health standards as director of the OSHA Office of Engineering Safety, shared his extensive knowledge of electrical safety standards and work rules.

Increasing safety and protecting utility workers from dangerous falls is an ongoing challenge that requires commitment from every power provider. Western thanks Tri-State and all the professionals who helped make the 2016 Fall Protection Symposium a success.

LES, APPA create Clean Power Plan modeling tool

The Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that seeks to reduce the United States’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 32 percent in 2030, presents state regulators and the electricity sector with new challenges as well as opportunities. Utilities and states will need to work closely to find cost‐effective means of reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants and, in some cases, to demonstrate performance for EPA requirements. Many states may find it necessary to implement a CO2 emissions trading program.CleanPowerPlanModel

While utilities have a history of using complex modeling and forecasting tools, state regulators are less familiar with these processes. To help bridge that communication gap, Lincoln Electric System You are leaving WAPA.gov. and the American Public Power Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. have developed the Clean Power Plan Modeling Tool. This model is utility-focused, making it unique among various tools available for assessing a state’s potential compliance under the final rule. Users are able to assess the potential compliance position of a specific utility, providing for much deeper insight into the potential ramifications for your company and the customers it serves.

The tool is designed to:

  • Provide a useful, quantitative look at potential compliance options based upon planned and/or forecast generation capacity additions and retirements
  • Allow public power utilities to evaluate their potential compliance position
  • Provide deep insight into the potential ramifications for utilities and their customers

Utilities may also find the model useful for integrated resource planning.

The Clean Power Plan Modeling Tool is free to APPA members. Upon ordering, the user will receive an email with instructions on accessing the tool.

Source: Public Power Daily, 5/24/16

City of Palo Alto partners with school district in energy-saving competition

The Palo Alto City Council recently approved giving $1 million to the Palo Alto Unified School District You are leaving WAPA.gov. (PAUSD) if the city wins the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition You are leaving WAPA.gov..guepsuccess

The multi-year national competition You are leaving WAPA.gov. taps into the imagination, creativity and hometown spirit of small- and medium-sized communities across the country to develop sustainable programs to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. It is set up to encourage innovation in energy-saving programs and education offered by local governments to residential, municipal and public school utility customers. The city with the greatest energy savings from January 2015 to December 2016 could win a $5 million dollar prize to use in continuing energy-efficiency programs.

To win the competition, the City of Palo Alto is encouraging residents to reduce electric and natural gas use. Each participating community will be rated not just on energy savings, which Palo Alto has actively pursued for more than 30 years, but also on program innovation, potential for replication, future performance, equitable access, education and overall quality of services. The city’s municipal utility (CPAU) is introducing new programs, tools and incentives to personalize saving energy.

Educating tomorrow’s consumers
Another strategy Palo Alto is using to increase its success is partnering with PAUSD to identify and prioritize energy-efficiency and sustainability projects that involve students. The city hopes PAUSD can tie the competition into class curriculum, allowing students to come up with ideas for saving energy to win the “Million Dollar Challenge” for the schools. The school district may be able to use the $1 million prize money for incorporating new or additional educational programs for energy-efficiency, putting solar on schools, or upgrading lighting and HVAC systems.

“This is a tremendous leadership opportunity for students, which teaches practical, real-world applications for understanding and managing energy use,” said City Manager James Keene. “These students are the future generation that will be faced with the impacts of climate change if we don’t act with urgency. We all benefit by engaging students through education and providing an avenue for potential funding of programs to help sustain and grow this knowledge.”

The city is engaging a team of high school students by sponsoring an internship program, “Get Involved Palo Alto.” Interns will generate ideas to help other students, staff and family members examine their home energy use more closely and try to reduce consumption. One idea they have already discussed is developing a mobile app for residents to input their electric kilowatt-hour and gas therm usage after reading their meters on a daily or weekly basis.  Students could track energy consumption over time and measure savings after making changes at home, such as insulating doors and windows, or reducing phantom load energy drawn by electronic devices. Real-time tracking has been shown to help consumers understand fluctuations in energy use.

Tools to manage today’s use
CPAU is rolling out new programs like the Home Efficiency Genie audit and a new residential online utility portal to make it easier for residents to better understand their current energy use at home and take steps to improve efficiency.

Both the audit program and utility portal can help users identify inefficiencies and opportunities to manage electricity and gas consumption. Residents can call the Home Efficiency Genie experts for free utility bill analyses and subsidized energy audits of their homes. Participants will reap the benefits of a more comfortable home, reduced utility bill costs and the satisfaction of lowering their carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use—and helping their city in the competition.

Competition is tough
Palo Alto is not the only Western municipal customer competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The Colorado cities of Aspen You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Fort Collins You are leaving WAPA.gov. are also participating, and all three are in the top 20 for energy savings.

Millions of homeowners, more than 60 local governments and over 100 utilities
are represented by the 50 communities competing in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. As of September 2015, participants have avoided more than 300 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions and saved more than 9 billion kilo British thermal units based on electricity and natural gas consumption. All that efficiency and conservation has saved participants more than $59 million.

Western wishes every competitor luck (but especially our customers), and we look forward to learning about the strategies the communities developed.

Source: City of Palo Alto, 5/16/16

Lincoln County PD lighting fact sheet makes LEDs an easy choice

Just a few short years ago, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) were the “hottest” efficient technology and utilities were building entire programs around encouraging customers to swap out their old incandescent lights. Then the price of the even more efficient LED, or light-emitting diode, lamps started to drop and customers had another option. They also had a case of technology whiplash that left many feeling more than a little skeptical about manufacturer claims. If you would like some help in persuading your customers about the benefits of state-of-the-art lighting technology, check out this lighting fact sheet You are leaving WAPA.gov. from Lincoln County Power District No. 1. blubs

The fact sheet promotes LCPD’s lighting program that offers each residential customer one 10-watt LED lamp to try out at home for a year. The 10-watt LED gives off light that is equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent bulb or a 14-watt CFL. Installing an LED in the most used light fixture in the house could save consumers nearly 55 kilowatt-hours annually.

Some of the information on the fact sheet is specific to LCPD customers, of course, but much of it is general or can easily be adapted to your utility. For example, if you simply change the price of electricity on the cost comparison table, it will show your customers how much money LEDs can save them in their own homes.

The fact sheet explains how to use LEDs (hint: just like incandescents and CFLs) and gives tips on getting the most benefits from the efficient lighting technology. You don’t need to be offering a program similar to LCPD’s lighting program to find this fact sheet useful, but your customers may ask for one when they learn about the advantages of LEDs.

Visit Energy Services Publications to find more fact sheets on technologies and programs to improve load management and customer relations.

Presentations from Utility Energy Forum now online

UEF sessions run the gamut from state and federal policy discussion to emerging technologies to customer engagement strategies. (Photo by RL Martin)

UEF sessions run the gamut from state and federal policy discussion to emerging technologies to customer engagement strategies. (Photo by RL Martin)

If you were unable to attend the 36th annual Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. at Lake Tahoe, California, you can find out what everyone was talking about. Download presentations from industry experts, researchers, decision makers and, most importantly, your peers. Utility business models, smart technology, distributed energy resources and customer programs were among the topics attendees discussed.

Of course, studying the presentations won’t be the same as joining other utility program managers and energy services and marketing professionals to share your challenges and successes, but there is always next year. There is also the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange You are leaving WAPA.gov. in Aspen, Colorado, Sept. 28-30.

New report looks at utility business models for energy storage

Navigant Research You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Sunverge Energy, Inc. You are leaving WAPA.gov. have teamed up to produce a white paper highlighting opportunities to embrace energy storage in ways that benefit both public utilities and their customers.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that the technical potential of rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) in the United States represents the equivalent of 39 percent of current U.S. electricity sales. The capacity from solar panels, advanced batteries and other forms of distributed energy resources (DER) is likely to keep growing. Some in the industry see this trend as the beginning of the “utility death spiral.” There are optimists, however, who see the chance for utilities—especially publically owned utilities—to reinvent themselves and their customer relationships.

According to the report, Making Sense of New Public Power DER Business Models, advanced energy storage can optimize DER to provide value on either side of the meter. In three featured case studies, public utilities, including Sacramento Municipal Utility DistrictYou are leaving WAPA.gov. leveraged the diverse services energy storage can offer if coupled with state-of-the-art controls software. Smart storage applications proved to be the key to delivering win-win results such as improved reliability, more resilience and greater customer satisfaction.

Public power providers are uniquely positioned to explore new energy service delivery models that can turn the challenge of integrating DER into customer partnerships. You can learn more about innovative business models and up-and-coming technologies by downloading a free copy of Making Sense of New Public Power DER Business Models.

Source: Public Power Daily, 5/9/16

Western customers play role in latest green power rankings

The latest Green Power Partnership update on renewable energy use by businesses, government facilities and educational institutions shows the importance of partners in meeting clean power goals. Western customers—and Western itself—figure prominently on the quarterly list released April 25. gpp_logo

There are now 764 Green Power Partners using renewable energy to meet 100 percent of their U.S. organizationwide electricity use. That is a lot of green kilowatt-hours (kWh)—16 billion annually—to keep the lights on and the equipment humming. The list of power providers needed to supply all that clean electricity is a long one and there are several familiar names on it.

Large, small partnerships
Apple alone purchases renewable energy from more than 30 providers, including Salt River Project, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Silicon Valley PowerYou are leaving WAPA.gov.  City of Palo Alto Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CPAU) and Omaha Public Power District You are leaving WAPA.gov. (OPPD). Alpine Bank relies on Holy Cross EnergyYou are leaving WAPA.gov. San Miguel Power AssociationYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Yampa Valley Electric AssociationYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Delta-Montrose Electric Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. and La Plata Electric Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. (LPEA) among others to power its 38 branches across Colorado. Fort Collins Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov. is among several providers that supply green power to outdoor equipment retailer REI.

On the other end of the spectrum, Silicon Valley Power meets all the electricity needs of industrial goods manufacturer Roos Instruments. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. is the sole green power provider to Wolf Creek Ski Area.

DIY spreading
As equipment and installation costs drop, many organizations are adding renewable energy systems on their own facilities. Omaha, Nebraska-based Morrissey Engineering supplements its green power purchase from OPPD with on-site generation. The city of Durango, Colorado, has partnered with LPEA on community solar gardens.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory generates 20 percent of its electricity on-site with solar panels. The remaining 80 percent comes from Western and private renewable energy companies.

Other notable achievements
Western customers appeared in the ranking not just as providers but as partners. The University of Utah You are leaving WAPA.gov. came in at number 86 in the overall Top 100 Green Power Partners, and was number 14 in the Top 30 colleges and universities.

Los Angeles World Airports, served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, ranked 23rd among local government green power users. Sustainability pioneer CPAU was number 28 on that list.

Long-term power contracts, for five years or longer, play an important role in growing the renewable energy market. BD, a global medical technology company, signed a 20-year purchase power agreement with Nebraska Public Power District for more than 120,000,000 kWh of wind power.

Western customers go above and beyond to provide their consumers with the products and services they need, including cleaner, greener electricity. We look forward to seeing their names become a growing presence on future Green Power Partnership lists.

Source: EPA Green Power Partnership via Green Power News, 5/2/16