- Sept. 25 – Grant Program to Assess, Evaluate and Promote Development of Tribal Energy and Mineral Resources
- Oct. 2 – WINDPOWER 2018 presentation proposals due
- Oct. 5 – Energy Efficiency Day 2017
- Oct. 9 – Tribal Energy Development Capacity
- Oct. 10 – Proposals for improving undergraduate STEM education requested
Following the success of last year’s first-ever national event, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy is looking to expand participation and awareness of the event. More than 175 were official supporters in 2016. Your utility could join the more than 175 government agencies, companies, power providers, cities and other organizations that supported Energy Efficiency Day in 2016.
Outreach includes a website, a Facebook account, more official declarations and a challenge to save energy in homes and businesses. An ACEEE blog post lists four suggestions for challenging your community to save energy.
- Sign up on the new event website as an individual or as an organization. You will receive ideas and fun facts to share on social media as Energy Efficiency Day gets closer.
- Urge your residential and commercial customers to take the Lightbulb Challenge or the Office Lighting Challenge. Challengers agree to replace at least one light bulb with an LED. If each US household purchases just one LED bulb, consumers could save $500 million annually.
- Ask state and local leaders to officially proclaim Oct. 5 Energy Efficiency Day. Hawaii Governor David Ige did so in 2016, and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has already done it for this year.
- Share your own energy efficiency story. Promote your news about Energy Efficiency Day and the benefits of saving energy–and money–through blog posts, emails, newsletters and social media. Create your own content with videos, photos, graphics or other messages. Sign up on the EE Day website to get more material you can use from ACEEE.
You can use your imagination, too–creativity and humor are welcomed. And don’t forget to share your ideas with ACEEE and WAPA. We would love to highlight your activities in an Energy Services Bulletin story.
Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 9/5/17
Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange
Aspen Meadows Resort
Rolling into its second decade, the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange has now been around long enough for its many participants to see the fruits of meeting annually to swap program ideas and stories of successes and failures with colleagues from across the region.
This year’s theme, “Initiatives worth Imitating,” focuses on using lessons learned from past programs to address the new issues and opportunities utilities are facing. Programs incorporating time-of-use rates, community solar, the internet of things and big data will be in the spotlight. Sessions will also cover new spins on demand response, customer outreach, behavior change and incentive programs.
“Technology often integrates tools and strategies that were part of successful energy-efficiency and load management programs in the past,” explained Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman. “Load management today and going forward requires updates and changes in approach that will maximize the new resources and technology that are constantly being introduced to the industry. This year’s agenda encourages that kind of thinking.”
The future is on the minds of keynote speakers, too. Mark Martinez, the senior portfolio manager for emerging markets and technologies with Southern California Edison will deliver the opening keynote, Preparing Today for an Integrated Demand Side Management Future. He will draw on his more than 25 years of experience in the design, management and evaluation of electric demand side management (DSM) programs to present a vision of how DSM needs to change.
The closing keynote by Ellen Steiner, the vice president of Opinion Dynamics , will explore how utility customer programs can adapt to meet the needs of changing demographics. A master methodologist, Steiner has strong energy-efficiency industry experience encompassing workforce education and training, marketing, community outreach and HVAC program design and evaluation.
Hear from your peers
New and familiar faces host the regular sessions, including the dual track residential and commercial sessions on Thursday. Sponsors the City of Aspen and Holy Cross Energy will join Fort Collins Utilities , Colorado Springs Utilities , Nebraska Municipal Power Pool and many more regional utilities to talk about the state of customer programs in 2017. Research agencies and nonprofits like Rocky Mountain Institute and National Renewable Energy Laboratory team up with program vendors such as CLEAResult , Franklin Energy and Nexant to discuss the latest services and solutions available to help utilities manage their loads.
Friday offers a special treat with a focus on electric vehicles and storage. These topics were overwhelmingly popular at the 2017 Utility Energy Forum in California, and Rocky Mountain area utilities will be facing the same issues sooner than we expect.
Network toward your goals
If the sessions are a great way to explore the nuts and bolts of program design and delivery, the networking opportunities let you take the pulse of the regional industry.
In addition to breaks and meals (pack your “comfortable” business casual wear), attendees will have plenty of time to mingle with their colleagues and swap ideas. On Wednesday, Sept. 27, grab a snack and a beverage and check out the poster session reception. These mini-presentations allow attendees to talk one-on-one with presenters about topics as diverse as community solar, connected home devices and infrastructure planning.
Relaxed networking continues Thursday night at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen. This venue provides a low-key atmosphere where it is easy to carry on a conversation. If you hatch dinner plans at the end of the evening, the city’s world-class dining options are close by, or, you can catch an airport shuttle from the hotel lobby if need to depart early.
Of course, it would be a shame to cut your conference experience short, between the intriguing Friday sessions and the pleasures of September in the Rockies. We can’t promise good weather, but, most years, the days have sparkled with sunshine and fall colors and the nights have been crisp and clear.
Aspen Meadows Resort is now sold out, but you can still stroll the grounds. The city is close enough that you could park your car at your hotel and walk off the delicious meals—included in your registration fee—on your way to and from the conference.
If you need one more reason to attend the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange, the Building Performance Institute awards continuing education units (CEUs) for many of the sessions. Download the instructions to find out how to verify your attendance.
Congratulations to the four WAPA customers who were among 18 individuals and 10 utilities to receive awards at the American Public Power Association’s National Conference in Orlando, Fla., on June 20. Lincoln Electric System (LES), Colorado Springs Utilities, Fort Collins Utilities and SMUD earned recognition for their service to the public power industry and its member-customers
Continuing to excel
LES, a Nebraska municipal utility, earned the E.F. Scattergood System Achievement Award for outstanding accomplishments that enhance public power’s national prestige, improve customer service and demonstrate an earnest, coordinated effort on the part of the system.
In 2016, LES unveiled the state’s largest and first utility-scale solar array, Lincoln’s 5-megawatt (MW) community solar facility. Customers can invest in virtual solar panels, receiving credits on their bill. Improvements were also implemented to the utility’s rate structure to encourage energy efficiency and protect customers sensitive to bill fluctuation.
In the community, LES’s Energy Detective Kits teach students and their parents about saving energy, reducing water usage and lowering their household bills.
With a 99.99-percent reliability record, the utility continues to take strides to make sure its power remains dependable. Its mobile meter-reading project upgraded nearly all of the system’s 137,000 analog meters.
An established and evolving community safety program won the Community Service Award for Colorado Springs Utilities of Colorado. This award recognizes “good neighbor” activities that demonstrate commitment to the local community.
The community safety program, which has been a cornerstone of the municipal utility’s community involvement for 20 years, provides educational outreach in schools and at community events to audiences of all ages. Each year, almost 15,000 students, adults, contractors and first responders learn about gas and electric safety and about the safe and efficient use of utility services.
Recently, Colorado Springs Utilities revised and retargeted the education program to meet specific curriculum needs in schools and incorporate more messaging that is interactive and inquiry-based. “SafetyCircuit: Electric Safety and You” uses a live electric demonstrations board to show students the safe use of electricity indoors and outdoors, and how electricity affects our daily lives. An interactive live explosion demonstration is part of “Your Nose Knows! Natural Gas Safety & You,” a program teaching students about the properties and origins of natural gas and safety practices to prevent natural gas emergencies.
Increasing residential program participation
Fort Collins Utilities in Colorado and SMUD in California were among the four utilities to receive the Energy Innovator Award for utility programs or projects that demonstrate creative energy-efficiency measures or technologies. Eligible demonstrations can either improve customer service or increase the efficiency of utility operations. Judging criteria also includes transferability and takes into account project scope in relation to utility size.
Fort Collins Utilities was honored for its successful Efficiency Works-Neighborhood pilot program, which tested a streamlined process for home efficiency upgrades. The streamlined process made efficiency upgrades easy for customers by offering a choice of three packages—good, better and best—each custom-made for their homes. The packages provided upfront rebates, used standardized pricing, eliminated the need to get multiple contractor bids and ensured the quality of all completed work.
Over an 18-month period, the pilot program tripled the number of customers proceeding with energy-efficiency improvements and renewable systems installation. The upgrades lead to 50 percent greater electrical use reduction, 70 percent greater natural gas use reduction and 60 percent greater greenhouse gas savings per home.
Piloting cooling efficiency
SMUD received the Energy Innovator Award for its work with the hyper-efficient Climate Wizard air conditioner. Manufactured in Australia, the Climate Wizard has the potential to use up to 90 percent less energy to cool the same space as an equivalent refrigerated system.
Replacing conventional air conditioners with these indirect evaporative heat-exchange core systems could have a huge impact on SMUD’s peak cooling load during scorching Sacramento summer days. To evaluate the Climate Wizard’s performance, SMUD installed units with two industrial customers, a data center and a tool manufacturer .
The Tri-Tools production floor is not only hot from milling, turning and cutting metals, it is also humid from using water to cool materials during cutting. Because the Climate Wizard does not add moisture to the cooled air; it keeps employees more comfortable and improves the production process while saving the business energy and money.
The challenge for the data center Datacate is to maintain a consistently low temperature to keep servers and other equipment running 24/7. This pilot project, which will continue through 2017, has allowed the data center to operate more efficiently, add more capacity and lower operating costs.
The hallmarks of public power are dedication to community, commitment to innovation and constant striving to improve service. At WAPA, we already know our customers are leaders in the industry and we are excited to see that the industry recognizes them, too.
Source: American Public Power Association, 6/21/17
Electric vehicles (EVs) hold a lot of promise for greening the transportation sector, and could do even more if the electricity that powers them comes from the sun. To encourage the next generation of consumers to think about automotive innovation, SMUD sponsors an annual Solar Car Race for high school students.
More than 300 high school students competed in this year’s event, held at Cosumnes River College on April 19, as part of Earth Week. The competition is open to any high school in SMUD’s service territory.
Community comes together
The race took place in the college’s quad, and the construction department designed and built the wooden race track used by the racers. The event also gives students an excellent opportunity to visit a community college campus and experience what it has to offer.
The Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association and EV owners were also on hand to exhibit many models of available EVs and to discuss the technology and benefits of driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
Tools for students, teachers
SMUD provides each school registered with up to six solar car kits, which contain a 12-watt solar module from PITSCO and car accessories from Solar Made. Using the same solar panels, motors and gear sets as a jumping-off point, the students choose their own materials and design the car they are going to race. The entries compete for not only the fastest car, but also for best design, most sustainable, best engineering and most creative design. Each participating student receives an event t-shirt, also provided by SMUD.
In addition to the kits, SMUD also offers professional development workshops for teachers interested in using the solar-powered cars in their science or physics curriculums. A variety of workshops and training, exhibits and online resources are available to both teachers and students through SMUD’s Energy Education & Technology Center.
Racing toward future
Participation in the solar car race has doubled since it began 13 years ago, which is not surprising in a territory that has around 8,000 electric vehicles. The Solar Car Race is loosely based on the Department of Energy’s Junior Solar Sprint, a classroom-based national competition of solar-powered model cars for students, grades six through eight.
As a community-owned, not-for-profit utility, SMUD is focused on balancing its commitment to low rates with the goal of supporting regional vitality, and education is central to that effort. Through events like the race, the Solar Regatta and an Energy Fair, SMUD gives back to its community, while helping to develop the professionals who will create the energy solutions of the future.
Source: SMUD, 4/24/17
The 37th Utility Energy Forum was one for the record books, including the record of “First Sold-Out Event.” If you were unable to join us in the Sonoma wine country of Northern California, you can at least get a taste of the informative sessions and expert speakers.
The location and dates for the 38th Utility Energy Forum (UEF) will be set in the coming weeks, so watch for an announcement soon. We hope you will save the date and plan to join your colleagues—and your WAPA Energy Services representatives—for three days of learning, networking and professional development.
Next year’s event may even sweeten the deal for busy utility employees with a limited travel budget. The UEF planning committee is considering offering training opportunities in conjunction with the annual Forum as a separate event. The training would take place on Tuesday afternoon before the Forum begins on Wednesday and would be open to Forum attendees for an additional fee.
Please take a moment to complete a brief survey to tell the committee if this is of interest to you. If there is enough interest, there will be a pilot program at the 2018 event.
The California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) has awarded Silicon Valley Power (SVP) the 2017 Resource Efficiency & Community Service Award for an innovative small business efficiency program. The Small Business Snapshot Audit and Direct Install Program won the Best Energy Program for a Large Municipal Electric Utility at CMUA’s annual meeting in March.
Aimed at business customers with a demand of 200 kilowatts (kW) or less, the program helps the notoriously hard-to-reach sector lower energy bills by installing energy-efficient products. Smaller businesses are the ones that can benefit the most from money- and energy-saving utility programs, observed SVP Public Benefits Manager Mary Medeiros McEnroe. “But they usually don’t have the time, up-front money or awareness to take advantage of utility offerings,” she said.
To overcome those barriers, the utility designed the program to be high-penetration, low-cost and focus on the customer experience. Eligible customers received a free “snapshot” energy audit and a report for energy-saving recommendations. A third-party contractor provided and installed the energy-efficient products, so that the customer did not have to manage the process. “We have offered audits in the past, but without the direct-install component or the contractor relationship,” Medeiros McEnroe explained.
Perhaps the greatest factor in the program’s success was that Silicon Valley Power opted to provide the measures at no cost to the customer. The products included easily installed indoor and some outdoor lighting, exit and open signs, pre-rinse spray valves and faucet aerators.
The program was so popular that Silicon Valley Power extended it two additional years, through Fiscal Year 2016-2017, and added more products. “In the second round, we offered energy-efficient replacements for T-8 or T-12 tubes that weren’t on the market the previous year,” recalled Medeiros McEnroe. “We also added outdoor wall pack light fixtures, which became one of the most popular measures.”
This program marked the first time Silicon Valley Power partnered with the utility consultant Efficiency Services Group, chosen through a competitively bid request for proposals.
The contractor’s field representatives serve as the point of contact for the customers. Working from a detailed customer list the utility provided, the representatives called on small businesses in person, performed the free audits and installed equipment—usually efficient light bulbs— right on the spot. In the case of more expensive outdoor lighting, customers received additional free products they could install themselves if they liked the performance of the “sample,” and representatives returned to inspect the installation.
Win for everyone
Over two phases, the work saved almost 2 million kilowatt-hours for small business customers in Santa Clara, equating to more than $300,000 annually. Customers who were eligible for water efficiency measures also achieved water savings, and Silicon Valley Power gained information on customers’ electricity use that can be used to develop future programs.
The data the program collected also highlighted how different small business customers are from each other. “There is not a lot of overlap,” Medeiros McEnroe pointed out. “But we have been able to mine the information to create more targeted programs.”
For example, the utility is reaching out to food service customers who participated in the small business program to enroll them in an online Food Service Energy Efficiency Expert training program. Based on the data, Silicon Valley Power also target marketed for a rebate for rooftop air conditioning unit controls that it is now rolling out to customers.
WAPA congratulates Silicon Valley Power on earning the CMUA award, and especially on its success in bringing efficiency programs to the small business sector. When it comes to innovation and consumer satisfaction, our customers lead the pack.
Trees are so beautiful and useful—they provide food, fuel and lumber, prevent soil erosion, cool the planet and inspire poets—so it is fitting that they have their own national holiday: Arbor Day. It is also fitting that the city that held the first Arbor Day in 1872 makes tree planting a part of its ongoing resource planning efforts.
Recognizing the important role trees play in the environment and in its history, Nebraska City Utilities (NCU) offers its customers not one, but two tree planting programs. Customers can choose the municipal utility’s own “Energy Saving Tree” program. Also offered in partnership with the National Arbor Day Foundation, (NADF) is the foundation’s “Three Free Trees” program, which NCU helps to facilitate for its customers. Both programs give NCU the chance to educate customers about planting “the right tree in the right place,” and together have saved more than 67,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh).
Tale of two programs
The “Energy Saving Tree” program reimburses the customer for half the cost of a pre-approved tree up to $100. “An NCU arborist—someone from our tree line clearance crew —helps the homeowner pick the spot to plant it based on best tree-planting practices,” explained NCU General Manager Leroy Frana.
Wire-friendly varieties that are eligible for the rebate include the Armur maple, hedge maple, serviceberry, eastern redbud, flowering crabapple, Japanese tree lilac and thornless cockspur hawthorn.
Participants receive the reimbursement as a credit on their bill and then enjoy lower utility bills during the summer cooling season. The strategically planted tree also increases the value of the property.
National Arbor Day Foundation’s “Three Free Trees” provides up to three trees of 2 to 4 feet in height at no cost to the customer. The truly dedicated environmentalist can get 10 free seedling trees by joining the foundation. The trees come to the customer by mail and the NADF website helps them with choosing the site for planting. “We budget for 100 trees annually,” said Frana, “It’s a popular program because everybody loves getting something for free.”
Soon after arriving in Nebraska City in 1854, journalist J. Sterling Morton began planting orchards, experimenting with various crops and spreading the gospel of trees and conservation to his fellow pioneers. The vast expanse of treeless prairie needed windbreaks to prevent soil erosion, and settlers need building material and shade. Morton not only encouraged individuals to plant trees; he urged civic groups to join in. His work led to an appointment as Secretary of the Nebraska Territory.
Morton organized the first “tree-planting holiday” in 1872 and it is estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska by individuals and counties in celebration. Nebraska declared Arbor Day a state holiday in 1885 and chose April 22, Morton’s birthday, as its permanent date.
Today, Arbor Day is celebrated around the world on different dates (based on the best time to plant trees in the region), and Morton’s Nebraska City farm is now a 260‐acre National Historic Landmark known as the Arbor Day Farm.
Like most states, Nebraska now celebrates Arbor Day on the third Friday of April. Frana recalled having their newly purchased tree riding a float with his children in the city’s 2011 Arbor Day parade, and planting the State Street Maple at their home later in the day. “That tree is about 16 or 18 feet tall now,” he said.
Plant your future
Planting trees is a good investment for a utility even if it is not in the middle of the Great Plains. Nationwide, the Energy Saving Trees program has saved more than 300 million kWh and 4 million therms, sequestered or avoided almost 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and provided $106 million in combined energy and community benefits. To put it in personal terms, “Shading the home is one of the best ways to cut your electric air conditioning load,” Frana pointed out.
Utilities that partner with the Arbor Day Foundation on the Energy Saving Trees program will get help building their program with educational resources, celebration materials and more. Partners can use a calculator on the NADF website to help homeowners determine the right tree for the right place and show much money planting it will save them. Participating in the program can generate positive media attention for your utility, raise public awareness about your programs and beautify your community.
Join other WAPA customers like Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Colorado Springs Utilities and, of course, Nebraska City Utilities in planting for the future. Show your customers that you believe as J. Sterling Morton did, that each generation takes the earth as a trustee. Happy Arbor Day from WAPA and Nebraska City Utilities!
If the rapid pace of change in the utility industry has become almost a clichéd topic, it is because trying to assess and manage it is a constant challenge across large, small, investor-owned and public power providers alike. So don’t expect attendees at the 37th annual Utility Energy Forum to run out of things to say about this year’s theme, “Change is the Only Constant – Customers, Policy and Technology.”
Over three days, utility managers and marketers, customer service professionals, program developers, facility managers and industry allies will tackle that theme from many perspectives. The agenda covers the broad categories of policy, strategic planning, technology, customer programs and workforce development.
The opening keynote by Seth Kiner, managing director at Charlotte Street Advisors, delves into the many shifts underway in the industry and what they mean for utilities, policy makers and electricity customers. Kiner will also explore how energy providers are evolving to meet the needs of consumers, regulators and stakeholders.
Sessions will explore topics such as electric vehicles, building retro-commissioning, window coverings and partnering with specific market segments. As always, WAPA customers play a prominent role in hosting panels and presenting. Roseville Electric will discuss its revamped residential new construction program, formerly known as Best Home. Burbank Water and Power will explain how teaming up with a gas utility encouraged conservation of water, electricity and gas, all at the same time. Sacramento Municipal Utility District will talk about the Coalition for Home Electronics Energy Reduction, a collaborative effort to cut U.S. home entertainment energy consumption by 10 terawatt-hours annually by 2020.
Speaking of utilities, you won’t want to miss the Pre-Forum Workshop, for power providers and government representatives only. Registrants took a survey and voted on the questions they most wanted to address in this year’s roundtable discussion. The top questions are:
- What is the value of energy storage for customers, utilities and the grid?
- What beyond-the-meter services is your utility considering?
- What hurdles are your utility encountering with integrating and managing more energy efficiency in your resource mix?
Make new friends, partners
In addition to the sessions, the forum offers many opportunities for attendees to compare notes, brainstorm, ask each other questions and come up with new answers together.
The Utility Stand-up Challenge is a fast-moving poster session during which attendees can visit up to six storyboards detailing utility-sponsored energy programs or research. Storyboard presenters have up to five minutes (seven with Q&A) to share their program’s goals, successes and lessons learned. A bell rings, attendees choose another storyboard and the clock starts again.
Networking breaks, receptions and meals provide more chances to mingle and chat. The ever-popular “Any Port in a Storm” wine tasting event will be back on Thursday night.
Different venue, same high quality
In keeping with the theme of change this year, the UEF is moving to a new home at the Hilton Sonoma in Santa Rosa, California. The hotel is located in the heart of the California wine country, near historic locations.
The nearest airport is the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, just three miles from the hotel. The largest airports are San Francisco International Airport and the Metropolitan Oakland International Airport, both 65 miles away. The Sonoma County Airport Express provides scheduled shuttle service between San Francisco or Oakland airports to the Sonoma County Airport for $34 each way. You can use a taxi, Uber or Lyft to get to the hotel from the Sonoma County Airport.
One of the great things about the Utility Energy Forum that hasn’t changed is its all-inclusive registration fee. You get all your meals and two nights in a standard room for one price. There is an add-on fee for additional nights if you decide to stick around for the weekend and enjoy wine country.
There are also opportunities to get your name in front of your colleagues through sponsorship, event hosting and exhibiting. Several packages come with multiple conference registrations, so they are a good value if your organization plans on sending more than one representative.
Another thing that has stayed the same about the Utility Energy Forum is that representatives from WAPA’s Energy Services will be attending. We look forward every year to meeting our customers in person, and we hope to see you there.
The 37th annual Utility Energy Forum 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 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.