City of Palo Alto Utilities tests smart streetlights along El Camino Real

City seeking feedback on solar project

This fully integrated smart solar streetlight, one of nine along El Camino Real in Palo Alto, California, produces energy equivalent to power two streetlights. The city is asking residents  to give their opinions on the streetlights in an online survey.

This fully integrated smart solar streetlight, one of nine along El Camino Real in Palo Alto, California, produces energy equivalent to power two streetlights. The city is asking residents to give their opinions on the project in an online survey.

El Camino Real, a historic road that runs nearly the full length of California’s coastline, is making history again for its role in a six-month pilot project being conducted by the City of Palo Alto Utilities Redirecting to a non-government site (CPAU). In partnership with energy technology provider Petra Systems, Redirecting to a non-government site CPAU recently installed a string of nine smart solar streetlights along “The Royal Road.”

The installation is testing the potential to generate renewable energy on streetlight poles. Solar photovoltaic, or PV, modules placed high on the poles capture the sun’s energy and send it to the city’s electric grid. The technology could help transform ordinary streetlights into a network of distributed solar power generating assets.

Taking community’s pulse
The PV-fitted streetlights are located along a well-trafficked mile of El Camino Real. Interpretive signs in the area educate passers-by about the technology. “The pilot project area runs right by Stanford University, as well as soccer fields and parks, so residents will see what we are doing and be able to form an opinion about it,” noted CPAU Communications Manager Catherine Elvert. “We are encouraging community members to provide feedback through an online survey.”

The survey asks questions about residents’ support for CPAU increasing the use of solar power, and allows them to express concerns about aesthetics, light quality and other issues. “The customer response to these modules can help us gauge how aggressively to pursue this type of local generation,” Elvert added.

CPAU is engaged in several local solar initiatives as part of its ongoing commitment to invest in clean energy resources.

Innovating through partnership
Through its Program for Emerging Technologies, the municipal utility is able to “test drive” systems that may improve operations, create jobs and boost the sustainability of CPAU’s generation portfolio. Launched in 2012, the program seeks out and nurtures creative products and services that manage and better use electricity, gas, water and fiber optic services.

Partnering with high-tech companies keeps the cost of innovation down. The El Camino Solar Test project will increase Palo Alto’s renewable energy production at no cost to the city. Petra Systems offered CPAU the solar modules to evaluate their performance over the six-month pilot duration. The nine units are estimated to have a total nameplate capacity of about 2.25 kilowatts, with each solar module expected to produce 374 kilowatt-hours per year. That electricity is enough to power the equivalent of two streetlights, making the LED, or light-emitting diode, streetlights net producers of electricity.

Improving service, lowering costs
Project Manager Lindsay Joye pointed out that generation is just a small part of smart solar technology performance. “The technology goes well beyond self-powering to give the city greater control of its streetlight assets,” she said.

The modules are equipped with an LED light controller that allows the city to remotely turn streetlights on or off. The brightness of individual lights or groups of lights can be adjusted to accommodate the traffic levels in different neighborhoods, as well. On a citywide scale, the dimming function can provide even deeper energy savings from the already-efficient LED lamps, Joye noted.

The system offers additional features that can streamline maintenance and enhance public safety. The controller can flicker specific lights to help direct emergency response personnel when needed, and can notify the city immediately of a malfunctioning light, including the failure type and exact location. Elvert said, “If the city decides to expand the project, high-traffic roads and expressways would be good candidates for installations. With the smart-grid and remote control capabilities, there would be less need to put our crews in harm’s way.”

Shelton Group releases Energy Pulse 2014

We have been hearing it for years now: The utility industry is changing in a fundamental way. Yet many power providers are still waiting to see how the new energy landscape shapes up before deciding how to react.  Energy Pulse 2014: Navigating a Rapidly Changing Residential Energy Environment Redirecting to a non-government site makes a strong case for seizing the moment.

According to report author The Shelton Group, dozens of companies are now competing for control of the American home energy market in a sandbox where only utilities used to play. Moreover, these upstarts have the consumers’ attention. The data from the annual consumer survey points to the need for utilities, builders and manufacturers to develop a proactive strategy for customer engagement.

A key point in Energy Pulse is that utilities can no longer assume their customers will remain loyal in a marketplace of new options for acquiring and managing energy. Other findings reveal:

  • Which Americans aren’t thrilled with their utilities – and why that doesn’t necessarily matter
  • How many Americans would actually leave their utility if they could – and where they’d like to go instead for their electric service
  • Why consumers aren’t participating in energy efficiency programs – and what can be done to change that
  • Which home energy needs are crying out to be filled by utilities, builders and manufacturers – and how to get residential customers on board
  • What Gen Xers and Millennials say about technology and energy consumption ­­­­­– and why they may hold the utility’s success or failure in their hands

The good news is that power providers can emerge as winners in the new energy game —if they take steps to build rock-solid customer relationships. The report suggests strategies such as:

  • Disrupting consumers’ denial ­– because a growing economy and lower fuel prices have given them amnesia about why they need to make energy-efficiency improvements.
  • Revamping incentives – because most consumers don’t know they exist and too many layers of red tape keep them from participating in utility programs.
  • Learning to speak the customer’s language – because consumers rarely make energy-efficiency improvements for the reasons utilities think they do (hint: most consumers can’t even explain what the term “HVAC” means.)
  • Inventing new products and services to win customer loyalty – because with the home energy market up for grabs, utilities need loyal customers more than ever.

Download the executive summary for a free sneak-peek, and while you are there, consider signing up for Shelton Insights newsletter.

The Energy Pulse questionnaire surveyed a total of 2,009 Americans online, using members of Survey Sampling International’s online panel of over three million U.S. Internet users. Based on the total population of U.S. households (116,291,033), results from this study have an overall confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percent.

The Shelton Group is a marketing communications agency dedicated to the sustainability and energy-efficiency sectors. Founder Suzanne Shelton has been a frequent and popular speaker at the Utility Energy Forum and the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange.

Source: The Shelton Group, 12/16/14

Western, DOE announce 2015 Tribal Renewable Energy Webinar lineup

The webinar series for Native American tribes, government officials and renewable energy developers returns Jan. 28, 2015, with a new schedule covering the many aspects of developing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Now in its third year, the Tribal Renewable Energy Webinar series is a cooperative production by Western, the Tribal Energy Program and the Office of Indian Energy. Knowledge to Energy: The Path to Projects builds on the material presented in the previous years’ webinars, as well as experiences from projects being developed in Indian Country.

“The planning committee worked closely with many stakeholders to identify and prioritize potential topics for the 2015 webinar series,” said Western Renewable Program Manager Randy Manion.  “We then analyzed participant interest over the previous 24 months, considered past and current technical assistance activities in Indian Country, and made final determinations regarding highest value topics to include in the 2015 series.”

The result is a series that focuses on best practices, case studies, regulatory issues and business and financing models:

  • Jan. 28 – Best Practices in Developing a Tribal Strategic Energy Plan
  • Feb. 25 – Models for Tribal Energy Development Organizations
  • March 25 – Tribal Energy Development Operation and Management Best Practices
  • April 29 – Innovative Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, and Grid Technology Updates
  • May 27 – Tribal Case Study Using Models and Tools for Evaluating Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program and Project Opportunities
  • June 24 – Regulatory Impacts on Indian Lands
  • July 29 – Best Practices for Developing and Implementing a Request for Proposals
  • Aug. 26 – Successful Tribal Renewable Energy Projects
  • Sept. 30 – Effective Ways for Tribal Governments to Work with Utilities
  • Oct. 28 – Advanced Financing Models
  • Nov. 18 – Putting it all Together

The webinars are generally held on the last Wednesday of the month from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time. Visit the Tribal Energy Program for more information and links to registration (required).

Los Angeles recognized as water conservation leader

A recent article in the New York Times Redirecting to a non-government site highlights the progress the city of Los Angeles has made in water conservation. The words “water” and “Los Angeles” still cause much of the public, including residents, to think of the California Water Wars that inspired the film “Chinatown.” But over the past 15 years, the city has quietly become something of a pioneer in cost-effective, environmentally beneficial water conservation, collection and reuse technologies.

The South Los Angeles Wetlands Park repurposed a former transit brownfield site as a sustainable green space that treats storm runoff. The City of Los Angeles Bureaus of Engineering and Sanitation, Recreation and Parks, the Metro Transit Authority and Council District 9 partnered with Psomas engineering firm to build the innovative stormwater capture system. (Photo by Psomas.)

The South Los Angeles Wetlands Park repurposed a former transit brownfield site as a sustainable green space that treats storm runoff. The City of Los Angeles Bureaus of Engineering and Sanitation, Recreation and Parks, the Metro Transit Authority and Council District 9 partnered with Psomas engineering firm to build the innovative stormwater capture system. (Photo by Psomas.)

Not just a pioneer, but an award winner as well: The U.S. Water Alliance Redirecting to a non-government site  bestowed one of its first water sustainability awards on the city’s water integrated resource plan in 2011. Another honor followed this year when the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure gave its Envision Platinum Award to the South Los Angeles Wetlands ParkRedirecting to a non-government site The project turned nine acres of disused bus maintenance yard into a public park that doubles as stormwater treatment facility.

Results mean more than awards and imitation, however, and Los Angeles is seeing those, too. The city now consumes less water than it did in 1970, while its population has grown by more than a third. Projects like the retrofit of the flood-prone Elmer Avenue in the Sun Valley neighborhood are showing that rainwater collection can be cost effective, too. Production of water like that captured by the project costs $300 an acre-foot, compared to the $800 to $1,000 per acre-foot Los Angeles now pays for imported water.

The success of the demonstration projects spurred city officials to adopt an ambitious 20-year water management plan that treats the Los Angeles Basin as a single watershed. The state supports the massive plan, but implementation will be difficult given that more than 100 water-conveying entities operate in the basin.

A city that imports 89 percent of its water cannot rest on its conservation laurels, especially as droughts in the West threaten to lengthen and deepen. Even so, Los Angeles is taking bold steps to address a problem—water shortage—that most municipalities in our region will face. Western congratulates Los Angeles and looks forward to sharing more success stories on the city’s water management plan.

Source: New York Times, 12/7/14

Take part in SEPA’s annual utility solar survey

Deadline: February 4, 2015sepalogo

Solar Electric Power Association Redirecting to a non-government site (SEPA) is conducting the eighth annual survey Redirecting to a non-government site to provide data for its 2014 Utility Solar Market Snapshot, to be released in April 2015, and its new Utility Solar Market Report, scheduled for a June 2015 release.

The annual survey collects utility data on solar electricity installations in the United States, both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power on the customer and utility side of the meter. Past reports have garnered significant media attention from outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Renewable Energy World, Transmission & Distribution World, and Reuters.

Municipal and cooperative utilities are making an impact in solar development especially in terms of watts per customer. Kauai Island Electric Cooperative and Imperial Irrigation District Redirecting to a non-government site are two that made the 2013 Top 10 list for Annual Watts per customer. Each year, SEPA also announces the top ten annual and cumulative solar MW [megawatts] and Watts per Customer awards at its Utility Solar Conference.

Other Western customer utilities that saw significant solar activity in 2013 include Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Redirecting to a non-government site, and Salt River Project Redirecting to a non-government site in Arizona, ranking 15th and 21st respectively.  Overall, 142 MW of solar was integrated by municipal utilities in 2013, including 12 that integrated 1 MW or more each. Cooperative utilities integrated 28 MW of solar in total, including eight that integrated 1 MW or more.

Please send your response by Feb. 4, 2015.  Early submissions are appreciated, and those submitting by the deadline will receive complimentary summary reports. For more information, contact Miriam Makhyoun at 202-379-1615.

Source: Solar Electric Power Association, 12/10/14

LEDs relight Mountain Village

San Miguel Power AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site serving Colorado’s Western Slope, recently teamed up with Cooperative Business Lighting Partners Redirecting to a non-government site and the town of Mountain Village, Colorado, to replace 4,828 conventional light bulbs with efficient LEDs, or light-emitting diodes.

The Relight Mountain Village program provided town residents with deeply discounted LED bulbs to improve lighting efficiency in their homes or businesses. Cooperative Business Lighting Partners sold a variety of LED bulbs at a reduced rate to Mountain Village residents. San Miguel funded the discount with a generous rebate passed through from its wholesale power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site along with $20,000 from the town’s energy reduction projects budget.

Cooperative Business Lighting Partners estimates that the project will reduce the town’s overall energy use for lighting by 518,998 kilowatt-hours annually, and have a payback period of less than four months.

Learn more about this stunningly successful community program in SMPA’s December newsletter (page 2).

Source: San Miguel Power Association, 12/2/14

Learn how to apply for DOE Loan Guarantee

Dec. 18
10-11 am Mountain Time

The Department of Energy has reopened the window for applications for federal loan guarantees for renewable energy projects embodying innovative technologies. The deadline for applications was extended last week from Jan. 14, 2015, to December 30, 2015. An estimated $4 billion in financing will be made available for qualifying projects. Eligible projects must employ an innovative technology for renewable energy, efficient electricity generation, transmission or distribution, or energy-efficient end use. The project must avoid, reduce or sequester anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and be located in the U.S.

Register today Redirecting to a non-government site to hear a discussion on the opportunities and challenges for project developers. The panel will include three people close to the program on December 18, 2014, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. MST.

Source: B2B Webinars, 12/4/14

RMEL Foundation now accepting applications

Deadline: January 30, 2015

The challenge of building the next generation electric industry workforce is one that haunts many a utility, especially those in small towns and rural communities. The RMEL (Rocky Mountain Electric League) FoundationRedirecting to a non-government site addresses this issue by offering scholarship opportunities through its members.

The Foundation is currently accepting applications from students seeking baccalaureate degrees as well as students entering craft or certificate programs. Scholarships are available to high school seniors or college undergraduates enrolled in and pursuing an undergraduate or associate degree or entering an appropriate certificate program with the goal of a career in the electric energy industry.

Students from all parts of the RMEL service territory may apply. The RMEL Foundation selection committee evaluates applications based on goals and aspirations in the electric energy industry, motivation to succeed, service to community and school and academic ability.

Scholarships provided in the name of a donor are also available through the RMEL Foundation. The number of scholarships and amounts awarded depend on donations. Immediate family and employees of the donor are not eligible for these scholarships. Email James Sakamoto or call 303-865-5544 to donate a corporate named scholarship.

To apply, students must create an account with RMEL Foundation and complete the online form. All scholarship applications must be submitted online by 5 p.m. MST, January 30, 2015. No mailed submissions will be accepted.

The Foundation relies on RMEL member companies to promote these scholarships, and encourages members to share this opportunity throughout their companies and communities.  Help grow the electric energy workforce of tomorrow by sharing the 2015 scholarship application with your industry and education contacts.

New marketing assistant learns utility ropes at GCEA

A utility energy-efficiency program can only help customers save money and help control operation costs if customers participate. Getting the word out is a perpetual struggle for many power providers, and one that is even harder for small rural cooperatives. Gunnison County Electric AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site (GCEA) in Colorado is meeting that challenge with new blood and a fresh perspective—and a crash course in energy-efficiency programming.

GCEA Marketing and Communications Assistant Logann Peterson received a degree in strategic marketing from Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. (Photo by Gunnison County Electric Association)

GCEA Marketing and Communications Assistant Logann Peterson received a degree in strategic marketing from Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colorado. (Photo by Gunnison County Electric Association)

Logann Peterson, who graduated last year from Western State Colorado UniversityRedirecting to a non-government site with a degree in strategic communication, recently made the leap from marketing intern to marketing and communications assistant. In her new career as a utility professional, Peterson faces the double challenge of engaging younger customers while learning about her new field. “I didn’t really know anything about the utility business when I accepted the internship,” she admitted. “Working at GCEA has been an eye-opening experience. A cooperative is more like a big family than a corporation.”

Lots to learn
The opportunities available at a utility also surprised Peterson. “Alantha’s job is a whole new concept for me,” she added.

“Alantha” is GCEA Energy Use Specialist Alantha Garrison, who administers GCEA’s customer energy-efficiency programs. Part of Peterson’s internship included helping to market rebates on LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, and free energy audits for residential and commercial members. GCEA also offers rebates for electric thermal storage heaters and ground-source heat pumps, as well as discounts to members on Convectair room heatersRedirecting to a non-government site.

During an energy audit, Energy Use Specialist Alantha Garrison explains to a GCEA member about air leakage around windows. (Photo by Gunnison County Electric Association)

During an energy audit, Energy Use Specialist Alantha Garrison explains to a GCEA member about air leakage around windows. (Photo by Gunnison County Electric Association)

To get up to speed on the topic of energy efficiency, Peterson immersed herself in literature Garrison recommended and did plenty of research on her own. She also accompanied Garrison on an energy audit. “I didn’t know there was so much equipment involved, like blower doors and infrared cameras,” she said. “It was fascinating to see how the tools show what is going on in a building.”

Peterson assists with production of the newsletters, bill inserts, web content and radio ads, while Garrison provides technical expertise and direction for stories on energy-saving measures and related co-op programs. “We don’t expect Logann to learn all the details about our incentives and energy-efficiency programs, but she is very interested in learning about the technologies,” Garrison noted. “She went to the DOE site to research LED lights for an article on lighting.”

GCEA has relied on the traditional formats to promote its programs, and having someone trained in marketing to polish the material has been helpful, Garrison observed. However, “Those avenues are not really building the customer participation we have hoped for,” she said.

Updating strategy
Garrison’s goals for the coming year include improving member feedback and increasing outreach to younger members. That dovetails nicely with Peterson’s first-year goal of establishing a social media presence for GCEA. “Social media is the number-one way businesses communicate with customers today,” Peterson pointed out. “Up to now, the co-op’s online profile has been very low.”

GCEA recently gave its website a makeover and launched a Facebook page and Twitter account, which Peterson will maintain. In addition to announcing outages, Garrison hopes Facebook and Twitter can be used to share energy-efficiency tips, get the word out about energy audits promote co-op events.

Peterson has her work cut out for her, attracting visitors to GCEA’s social media sites and establishing metrics for that outreach effort. “Right now, most of our ‘likes’ are from GCEA employees,” she admitted.

Tale of two demographics
Part of the challenge in marketing GCEA programs is finding ways to reach two distinct groups of members.

Unlike many rural areas, Gunnison attracts young people because of the college, many of whom stay after graduation to enjoy the Western Slope lifestyle. Those residents are more likely to pay attention to social media, but less likely to own their homes. “Most students are renters, and it is tough to motivate them to change their energy use habits,” Peterson observed.

Outside of town is a decidedly older, more settled demographic of ranchers and farmers, which is changing too, but more slowly. “I’d classify them as the ‘over 30’ crowd,” said Peterson. “The internet doesn’t reach into some of the more remote corners of our service area, either, so we still have to communicate with those members in the ‘old-fashioned’ way,” she added.

Low-tech bridge-building
Partnering with organizations in the community is another old-fashioned way to engage members, and one that is proving effective for GCEA. A fellowship student for a master’s program at Western State has set up a few member events and is working with the local housing authority to promote weatherization. “He going door to door to identify members who are income-qualified for the program and telling homeowners what is available to them,” Garrison said. “The personal touch may be low-tech but it works—our goal is to upgrade 12 homes this year and we are on track to meet it.”

Garrison and other GCEA employees have also taught a class on utility business and science at the university. The class not only educates younger and future members about energy use, it serves to position GCEA staff as experts on the topic, another marketing goal.

Forward to the future
Times are changing for utilities—even in rural areas like Gunnison and power providers have to keep up. Fortunately, GCEA is preparing for the future by investing in young employees who are up to the challenge.

Crafting a modern marketing strategy to reach members with the programs that will keep the lights on and the economy strong is going to take a certain amount of trial and error, as Garrison and Peterson readily acknowledge. Energy Services Bulletin wishes Logann Peterson good luck in her new job. We look forward to covering GCEA’s marketing and energy-efficiency successes as they work out the formula.

Planning at heart of Energy Services

The utility business may seem dry and matter-of-fact to consumers, but those in the business know it is a rollercoaster ride. To keep the lights on and the electricity affordable, power providers must balance a host of competing demands: renewable portfolio standards, carbon regulations, state mandates, federal mandates, customer desires, environmental concerns, new technology, aging infrastructure. The only way to keep all the plates spinning is to think ahead, and that is where Energy Services comes in.

Energy Services exists to facilitate the resource planning that Western’s firm power contracts require. Firm power customers must complete a comprehensive integrated resource plan (IRP) every five years, along with annual updates. “That may sound like a lot of reports,” acknowledged Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman, “but circumstances change so quickly in this industry, a business plan can easily be out of date in 12 months or less. It was true in 1992 when congress passed EPAct, and it is doubly so today.”

More than good idea, it’s law
EPAct, the Energy Policy Act of 1992, established the IRP requirement to ensure that Western firm power customers are using their federal hydropower allocations efficiently. Also, it encourages utilities to engage in long-term planning, a process that benefits any business, regardless of size, location, regulatory environment and a host of other influential factors. “Low-cost hydropower from federal dams is crucial to keeping the nation’s electricity supply affordable, especially for small towns and rural communities,” Horstman pointed out. “Our rivers are among the nation’s greatest resources and they belong to the general public. Western has a responsibility to protect the health of those waterways and to make sure that the greatest possible number of public utilities have access to it.”

In 1995, Western adopted the Energy Planning and Management Program (EPAMP) setting out the IRP requirements and launching the Power Marketing Initiative (PMI) for marketing long-term firm hydropower. The PMI provides resource pools of power that Western can allocate to new customers.

Not only does resource planning extend the availability of federal hydropower, it helps utilities provide the services their communities want and need to stay vibrant and thrive. But any process that accomplishes so much is bound to be complicated, especially for frequently understaffed small co-ops and municipalities. To provide Western customers with the technical assistance to facilitate effective planning, EPAMP commissioned Western’s Energy Services Program.

It’s complicated
The IRP is as much an ongoing process as it is a plan, the point of which is to provide a utility’s consumers with adequate and reliable service at the lowest cost to the system. The definition of the “lowest cost” has been changing as utilities realize that they must consider factors beyond the price tag of a kilowatt. Increasingly, consumers are calling on power providers to address environmental, political, social, economic and technical concerns in their plans as well. These concerns carry their own indirect costs that a more sophisticated public expects the utility to acknowledge and mitigate.

Determining the optimum approach requires the utility to evaluate a range of different resources and strategies on both sides of the meter. The planning process might assess new generating capacity, power purchases, energy conservation and efficiency, co-generation and district heating and cooling applications and renewable energy resources, to name a few.

A certain amount of economic forecasting must be part of the process, too. A community can change a lot in five years, with the population growing or shrinking, businesses coming to the area or leaving and new energy-consuming technologies reaching the mainstream.

Ideally, the utility will reach out to its consumers throughout the planning process to discuss their expectations and share upcoming challenges. This “public participation process” is critical to crafting comprehensive solutions and getting buy-in from consumers on implementing the plan.

An assistance buffet
Since rolling all these considerations into one plan is about as easy as it sounds, our customers need all the information Energy Services can provide and that turns out to be a lot.

  • Knowledgeable staff—Our technical assistance menu begins with our people. Customers with questions about their IRPs can contact Horstman or their regional representative.
  • Robust website—The Energy Services website is the next stop in the search for guidance, inspiration and industry news. On the home page, visitors will find links to calculators for estimating energy use by air conditioning and heating systems, pool pumps and irrigation equipment. These calculators can help utility program managers make the case to consumers for equipment upgrades, or estimate potential savings from incentive programs. An interactive calendar on the home page displays upcoming workshops, conferences, webinars and other training opportunities focused on energy use.
  • Technical servicesWashington State University Energy Extension,Redirecting to a non-government site  which created the calculators and the calendar, provides other technical services to aid with planning. Western customers can ask questions about specific technologies or programs to the Energy Experts hotline by calling 800-769-3756, or submitting their question online. Visitors might research successful energy management programs using the Energy Solutions database, or the Utility Options database. Users can also submit their own examples of innovative programs to Utility Options.
  • Equipment Loan Program—Western customers who need special equipment to implement a program can borrow it free of charge from the Equipment Loan Program. An equipment loan is a good way to test drive a tool before you buy it or to get the use of an expensive piece of equipment that is not in your utility’s budget this year. Borrow infrared cameras, power meters and more to perform audits on consumer homes and businesses or maintenance on your own system. Bring educational kits and diagnostic tools to customer meetings and schools. A quick visit to the extensive library of training resources will get you up to speed on how to use the tool.

Library on your desktop
Effective planning requires utilities to stay on top of best practices, new technologies and the changing political scene. The Energy Services Bulletin features stories on the latest industry news about reports, policies, education opportunities and—most important—our customers. Western customers are  the mother lode of ideas for load management strategies and portfolio diversification.

The blog just scratches the surface, however. Energy Services also publishes guides, fact sheets and collateral material on topics related to energy efficiency. Better yet, we can customize those publications with utility logos so our customers can use them in their consumer education programs.

Resources,” as the name implies, connects utilities with other agencies that can help them shape their own future. Visitors will find lists of carefully curated links to organizations specializing in energy and water conservation, renewable energy, project funding and incentive programs to name a few.

Putting it in writing
Armed with proven programs, a clear picture of the road ahead and a nimble strategy for navigating it, utilities must overcome one more obstacle in the planning process: Fear of Paperwork.

Yes, customers still have to produce a plan that checks off all the boxes in an arcane-seeming rule, but Energy Services has that covered too. The online IRP Compliance Training walks customers through the process step by step, with clear explanations of what they need to put into their reports. A quick refresher course in the form of IRP and alternative plan checklists comes in handy for seasoned planning pros in charge of annual updates.

More lessons from the trenches can be found in actual customer IRPs, available online. These examples offer a great opportunity to find out what worked for other utilities in your area and how they presented their plan.

There is no replacement for being prepared when you face a long journey down a twisting road of shifting priorities, disruptive and new technologies and unanticipated challenges. Each Western customer must chart its own course, but Western Energy Services is here to point the direction toward the final destination of reliable, affordable and sustainable power.