- Dec. 8 – 2018 Social Media Awards nominations due
- Dec. 11 – Applications for USDA High Energy Cost grants due
- Dec. 29 – Early bird registration deadline for Getting to Zero National Forum
- Jan. 18 – EPA Clean Diesel Tribal Grants request for proposals
- Jan. 22 – US Forest Service Wood Innovations grants
- Jan. 26 – Early bird registration expires for AESP National Conference
- Jan. 31 – APPA DEED award nominations due
Oct. 31 and Nov. 16
12-1:30 pm MT
As more and more businesses offer instant, effective and personalized communication, customers are naturally going to expect their power providers to do the same—and that is in addition to all the other challenges facing the utility industry.
Web-based customer engagement programs and activities offer public power utilities a way to build ongoing interactive connections with consumers. The American Public Power Association (APPA) is inviting utilities to learn about these opportunities with Customer Engagement: New Tools and Strategies for Modernizing Customer Relations, a two-part webinar series beginning Oct. 31.
The material is designed to showcase the potential of online solutions for a broad range of utility professionals, from senior executives to renewable and energy service program managers to customer service representatives. Public communications professionals and information and operations technology personnel will also benefit from the webinars.
Oct. 31 – Boosting Community Solar Program Success Through Customer Engagement explores the often misunderstood and undervalued process of strategic, long-term customer engagement and management.
The success of a utility community solar project depends on keeping subscribers happy and committed to the program. Utilities with active community solar programs or those considering implementing one will not want to miss this webinar. Presentations will examine some engagement strategies and tools needed to improve the customer experience while saving valuable internal team resources and bandwidth. Attendees will gain a greater understanding of how to best prepare their teams to transition smoothly to the evolving world at the grid edge.
Nov. 16 – Using Online Customer Engagement Strategies to Improve Satisfaction and Program Participation looks at best practices and lessons learned from implementing digital communications strategies such as personal energy forecasting and customer service representative applications.
Public power officials will use case studies to present proven strategies for using a variety of digital platforms to build customer relationships and drive up energy program participation. Speakers will also address how to create a web presence and digital strategy that will appeal to customers under 35.
The registration for each webinar is $99 for APPA members and $199 for non-members. A discount is available for registering for both webinars, however you can register for the individual events. APPA will be recording the webinars and making them available for playback later in case enrollees miss the live event.
Source: American Public Power Association, 9/25/17
Aug. 15 – Oct. 26
The future is here and resistance is futile. Public power utilities of all sizes are facing a new world shaped by technology, customer preferences and changing policies. These changes are most evident in five key areas:
- Rate design
- Community solar
- Electric vehicles
- Battery storage
- Smart meters
The American Public Power Association wants to help power providers navigate these changes and explore the opportunities this new environment presents. Beginning Aug. 15, a five-part webinar series looks at new initiatives through the experiences of the utilities that implemented them.
The series features experts on utility industry trends and is intended to encourage new thinking on the relationships between consumers, utilities and other energy service providers. Several WAPA customers are among the speakers, including Imperial Irrigation District, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and SMUD in California, Moorhead Public Service in Minnesota and SRP in Arizona.
APPA recommends this series for general managers, CEOs, senior utility executives, governing boards, policymakers, utility managers, future leaders in policy and strategy and public communications professionals.
You can sign up for webinars individually or register for the full series at a discounted rate. Participants will also get access to recordings and slides of the webinars for future reference or if they miss one. All webinars are scheduled for 12-1:30 p.m. Mountain Time.
Aug. 15 – The Future of Rate Design: Distributed generation and energy-efficiency programs are creating cost-shifting concerns. Catch up on the latest industry rate trends and discover how to move toward stable rate structures that accurately recover costs from all customers. Review the pros and cons of different rate models—time of use, higher customer charge, demand charges and bi-directional billing. Learn how other utilities like yours have created long-term rate plans, selected and implemented new rate designs, and obtained buy-in from board and city council members as well as customers.
Sept. 7 – Community Solar Success Stories: Community solar is becoming an increasingly popular option for utilities that want to increase solar in their generation portfolios and offer this option to customers who cannot install rooftop solar. An industry expert will share experiences, insights and predictions for the future of community solar. Your utility colleagues who’ve launched community solar programs across the country will explain how they made decisions in key areas like program structure, implementation, financing, customer outreach, rates and marketing. They’ll discuss challenges and the secrets to success so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Sept. 26 – Charging Ahead with Electric Vehicles: The price of electric cars is falling, and more fast-charging stations are being installed. The Brattle Group predicts that a steady conversion of vehicles and heating to electricity could possibly lead to a 105-percent increase in electricity demand by 2050. If these new loads start to proliferate in your community, are you ready to support them? Now is the time to plan for EV infrastructure and to make important cost-benefit decisions. Learn about new developments and advances in EVs and how they are impacting the utility industry. Hear about innovative public power EV programs and get insights regarding how to work with customers to spur investment in EVs, develop fair pricing models and plan for potential load growth.
Oct. 12 – Best Practices in Battery Storage: The evolution of energy storage is changing how we produce and consume energy like never before. Technological advances, reduced costs and mandates from regulators have positioned energy storage for unprecedented growth. Get up to speed on where we are and what to expect in the future. Three public power utilities will talk about their award-winning storage projects and the realities of implementation, from selecting a developer and siting to leveraging benefits such as peak shaving and financial impacts. Your pioneering colleagues will help you navigate the bold new path of utility-scale battery storage.
Oct. 26 – Smart Meters for Smart Solutions: Learn from utilities that have installed advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Gear up for the real-world challenges and understand how other utilities like yours are using AMI and integrating with other technologies. Understand how to fully leverage the benefits of smart meters — to predict load and usage, implement time-of-use rates, respond better to outages, assess the need for system upgrades and offset peak demand charges. Gather best practices on transitioning rate structures, educating customers and soliciting feedback.
You can sign up for the entire series or register for each webinar individually. Individual webinars cost $99 for APPA members and $199 for nonmembers. Register for all five webinars for $395 for APPA members or $795 for nonmembers, a discount equivalent to one webinar.
Source: American Public Power Association, 7/10/17
A well designed and implemented energy-efficiency program can contribute to a utility’s load management goals and to greater customer satisfaction. But success doesn’t happen by accident—program managers must understand the industry, marketplace, customers and many other factors.
The American Public Power Association (APPA) offers an Energy Efficiency Management Certificate Program at its Spring Institute, taking place May 15-19 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The program covers all aspects of energy-efficiency portfolio and program planning, implementation and evaluation. Attendees will be prepared to help residential, commercial and industrial customers save energy, while enjoying high reliability and quality service.
The classes are designed by instructors who have decades of industry experience and understand the specific needs of public power utilities. Topics include:
- Electric Utility Industry Overview: Strategic Challenges & Trends – Monday, May 15
- Introduction to Energy Efficiency Programs & Technologies – Tuesday, May 16
- Energy Efficiency Goal-Setting and Strategy Development – Wednesday, May 17
- Energy Efficiency Program Design and Implementation – Thursday, May 18
- Measurement, Evaluation, and Data Systems for Energy Efficiency Programs – Friday, May 19
The Institute format also provides an excellent opportunity to network with industry peers.
Small, medium and large public power utilities will benefit from the courses, whether they are just starting an energy-efficiency program or scaling up an existing offering. Participants can take the five courses together to earn a professional credential or individually to brush up on various aspects of energy efficiency or earn a professional credential.
To earn an Energy Efficiency Management Certificate, participants must complete the five required courses, pass an online exam and submit an energy-efficiency program business plan within a year of taking the classes.
APPA’s seasonal education institutes offer in-depth training courses for all skill levels. Institutes allow attendees to focus on a single topic or spend the week in multiple classes for more comprehensive training.
Registration discounts are available for all five courses or for two or more individual courses. There is an additional early-bird discount for registering before April 24. Learn more.
Source: American Public Power Association, 4/5/17
Deadline Jan. 31, 2017
It is time to gain recognition for your energy services programs and share your success stories with your customers, communities and industry colleagues. The American Public Power Association (APPA) presents two awards annually to member utilities that embody the spirit of the association’s Demonstration of Energy and Efficiency Developments (DEED) program. The research and demonstration program funds innovative activities dedicated to improving the operations and services of public power utilities.
The Award of Continued Excellence (ACE) recognizes a DEED member utility that has demonstrated continued commitment to the DEED program and its ideals. Criteria include involvement in the DEED program, including grants and scholarships; commitment to energy-efficiency; investigation or use of renewable resources and support of public power. This year’s award presentation will take place during the 2017 APPA Engineering and Operations Technical Conference, May 7-10, in San Antonio, Texas.
The Energy Innovator Award (EIA) recognizes utility programs that have demonstrated advances in the development or application of creative, energy-efficient techniques or technologies. Projects and programs that provide better service to electric customers or that increase the efficiency of utility operations or resource efficiency are eligible, too. Judges will take into account transferability and project scope in relation to utility size.
WAPA customer Moorhead Public Service received an Energy Innovator Award in 2016 for developing its Capture the Sun community solar garden. Lincoln Electric System, Omaha Public Power District, Alameda Municipal Power and Salt River Project are other WAPA customers that have earned the award with innovative programs.
APPA may give up to three awards in a given year. The awards will be presented during the 2017 APPA National Conference, June 16-21, 2017, in Orlando, Florida.
Nominations for both the ACE and the EIA may be submitted via the web-based application process. Submissions must be received no later than Jan. 31. For questions, contact the DEED program staff at 202-467-2960 or 202-467-2942 or via email.
After completing your nomination, don’t forget to share it with Energy Services Bulletin. Every utility program has an important story to tell and all WAPA customers are winners.
Source: Public Power Daily, 1/5/17
Public Power Week
Energy Efficiency Day
It is fitting that as the days get noticeably colder and darker, we recognize the people who make sure we can light and warm our homes (and cook hearty meals and take hot baths) all year around. Public Power Week is Oct. 2-8, and this year, Oct. 5, Energy Efficiency Day , is dedicated to the role wise energy use plays in keeping electricity reliable and affordable.
American Public Power Association (APPA) sponsors Public Power Week and provides plenty of resources to help utilities get their celebration off the ground. You can suggest your local municipality issue a proclamation, send messages on your social media platforms and provide local media with news releases and public service announcements. Post facts from APPA’s public power and energy-efficiency fact sheets on your website and make sure your member services representatives have copies handy to share.
Speaking of energy efficiency, do your customers know that this “power source” has prevented the need to build 313 large plants since 1990? According to American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), further ramping up energy efficiency could spare the country from having to build 487 large power plants over the next 14 years. The inaugural Energy Efficiency Day offers utilities the chance to educate consumers on the importance of saving energy.
Energy efficiency saves consumers and businesses money, creates jobs and stimulates the economy. It is also one of the lowest-cost ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The best part is that most utilities already have experience with energy-efficiency programs ranging from simple rebates for efficient appliances to sophisticated demand-response programs. Reminding your customers of the benefits of energy efficiency measures can help to encourage them to participate in existing programs and make them more receptive to future offerings.
The inaugural Energy Efficiency Day is a collaborative effort of regional and national organizations working to promote energy efficiency, including the ACEEE, Appliance Standards Awareness Project and many others. APPA, colleges and universities, trade allies and investor- and publicly owned utilities are among the organizations supporting #EEDay2016.
If you would like to add National Energy Efficiency Day to your Public Power Week celebration, you can find a link to a toolkit on the SWEEP blog, Livewire. Feel free to supplement the material with your own success stories, and don’t forget to share your plans with the Energy Services Bulletin, because every day is Energy Efficiency Day for WAPA Energy Services.
Source: American Public Power Association, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, 9/9/16
The award-winning, 40-kilowatt (kW) Capture the Sun Community Solar Garden went online in 2015, after public outreach indicated strong support for more solar options. Moorhead customers pay for the power output of one of the 144 non-rotating, photovoltaic (PV) panels that make up the array. The value of the energy generated by the panels is prorated annually in the form of bill credits to participating customers. MPS is responsible for ongoing maintenance and delivering the energy to subscribers’ homes and businesses.
“The point of the gardens is to allow people who don’t have the ability to have solar panels at their home, to help feed solar energy into the grid,” said MPS Energy Services Manager Dennis Eisenbraun. “That fits the criteria for the Energy Innovator Award very well.”
The award recognizes utility programs that demonstrate advances in the development or application of creative, energy-efficient techniques or technologies. Judges also look for programs that improve service to electric customers or projects that increase the efficiency of utility operations or resource efficiency. Transferability and project scope in relation to utility size are also considered. APPA presented the award during its annual National Conference in June in Phoenix, Arizona.
Keeping customers satisfied
Although support for clean energy—especially the home-grown kind—is strong among consumers, many homes and businesses are not in the position, literally or figuratively, to install solar. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, about three-quarters of all buildings are not suitable for a solar array due to shading, roof orientation, structural issues and other concerns.
Shared solar, however, has the potential to greatly increase consumer access to solar PV, a fact not lost on MPS customers. “We did an initial survey to gauge customer interest last year, and then held a couple of public meetings,” Eisenbraun recalled. “Finally, we sent out a mass mailing seeking a commitment to the project and there was an overwhelming positive response.”
Capture the Sun quickly attracted more subscribers than it had panels to accommodate them. “We knew before we finished building the 2015 project that it was only going to be ‘Phase One,’” said Eisenbraun. “Between the waiting list and a second mass mailer sent earlier this year, we had enough support to go ahead with another array in 2016.”
Poised for success
The second phase of Capture the Sun will be fully subscribed when it goes online this fall. MPS is planning a public dedication, Oct. 4, during Public Power Week.
The success of the solar garden is not surprising, given that Moorhead residents are already familiar with the concept of community renewable energy development. MPS built two wind turbines, one in 1999 and another in 2001, and more than 800 customers signed up to support the Capture the Wind program with a small green power tariff on their monthly electricity bills. “Our first foray into renewable energy was a resounding success,” Eisenbraun acknowledged. “The turbines were a great public relations tool and they reached payback in just 11 years, four years ahead of schedule.”
Like the wind turbines, Capture the Sun is a distinctly local project that keeps control in the community and the economic benefits within the region. MPS self-financed the solar garden with a combination of subscriptions and funds shifted from its renewable system incentive program. “We didn’t have as many individual customers installing systems as we hoped,” explained Eisenbraun. “So instead of leaving that money on the table, we decided to use it to give our customers another option.” A very popular option, as it turned out.
MPS also chose Enterprise Sales Co. from nearby Valley City, North Dakota, to build the project. The website states that Enterprise is “more than a contractor,” but Eisenbraun was surprised to learn that the company builds solar arrays. “I was only familiar with them as grain bin builders,” he admitted. “But they came in with the best price and their project manager worked everything out to the finest detail.”
At Moorhead Public Service, bringing recognition to a local business, self-financing community renewables projects and giving customers what they want is not so much about innovation as it is about doing the right thing. “We didn’t build Capture the Sun because of any mandates,” Eisenbraun pointed out. “We did it because it was a great idea and our customers thought so, too.”
And that kind of thinking deserves an award.
It is hard enough to agree on a definition of sustainability, let alone measure and account for it. Yet the general public, along with local, state and federal governments are increasingly calling upon electric utilities to demonstrate sustainable operation. To help power providers meet these demands, the American Public Power Association is offering a new publication, Sustainability Reporting for Electric Utilities.
Use this resource to learn how to account for and report your utility’s positive economic, environmental and social impacts. You will discover how to build, maintain and use reports to impact your strategy.
Sustainability Reporting for Electric Utilities describes current trends in sustainability accounting and offers guidance on reporting to stakeholders and employees on your sustainable activities. This publication provides you with up-to-date practices on sustainability accounting and reporting by:
- Explaining what sustainability reporting is
- Introducing you to standards-setting entities
- Describing processes for gathering sustainability statistics
- Showing how to build and maintain sustainability reports
- Demonstrating how sustainability reporting can impact utility strategy
Written by Megan Decker and Russ Hissom of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, Sustainability Reporting for Electric Utilities will help to establish your utility as a good steward of the resources it uses to deliver reliable and affordable energy to customers.
Source: American Public Power Association, 3/14/16
When J.D. Power released its 2016 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study , the list of eight U.S. electric utilities included Western customers.
The 17th annual study ranked utilities based on customer satisfaction by size and region. Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) rated highest in the Midwest Midsize category. Salt River Project (SRP) in Arizona outperformed other utilities in the Large West category and Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) excelled in the West Midsize category. OPPD and SRP also ranked highest in last year’s study, the only two among the eight power providers to repeat their appearance on the list.
The other five electric utilities with highly satisfied business customers are:
- Con Edison (East Large)
- Met-Ed (East Midsize)
- Ameren Missouri (Midwest Large)
- Entergy Arkansas (South Large)
- JEA (South Midsize)
Except for JEA, based in Jacksonville, Florida, these are all investor-owned utilities. “The public power utilities that have won the J.D. Power honors all exemplify this excellence in customer service,” said Sue Kelly, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association (APPA).
Focused on sustainability
OPPD works with more than 45,000 commercial and industrial (C&I) customers to help them improve energy efficiency and develop new renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and biomass. In an interview with APPA for Public Power Daily, Jim Krist, OPPD manager of key account sales and service, pointed to a heightened interest among business customers in sustainability and driving their own energy choices. “The customer continues to change the way we think, operate and serve,” he said.
OPPD has 10 account executives dedicated to servicing the utility’s largest C&I customers. These customers receive annual energy reviews and work with the utility on economic development issues. OPPD account executives and electric service designers consult with business customers on demand-side management programs to help them reduce energy demand and receive rebates.
Even a brief power outage can cost a business thousands of dollars—or worse—so providing timely, accurate information about outages and quickly restoring electric service strongly affects a utility’s rating.
SRP has introduced online and mobile-friendly apps to provide detailed power outage information to businesses, and to send power outage notifications and weather alerts to customers via email and text. Every business customer who contacts SRP to report an outage receives a follow-up call by the next business day. The utility uses the opportunity to educate them on how to use online outage map and reporting tools.
This aggressive approach has paid off in significant increases in the satisfaction scores. “And our customers are telling us how much they appreciate this proactive outreach,” Jennie King, the utility’s director of strategic energy management, told APPA.
SRP’s robust portfolio of 20 energy-efficiency programs is another reason the utility has ranked first in the West by J.D. Power for three consecutive years. Program offerings range from low- to no-cost options for limited-income residential customers to comprehensive programs for industrial clients.
Expanding customer engagement
Taking the proactive approach for keeping in touch with business customers figures heavily in SMUD’s business customer service strategy, too. Account representatives serve as trusted energy advisors to their assigned business customers, matching various utility programs with the specific needs of their clients. The Sacramento utility has 67,000 contract accounts representing the 32,000 businesses in its service territory. Last year, the utility decided to ramp up its outreach by putting a C&I customer strategic plan in place. A staff training program aimed at engaging more business customers was a key part of the plan.
Rob Lechner, manager of SMUD’s commercial and industrial account solutions team, said the five-person team now averages 150 face-to-face meetings per week. Team members spend much of their time in the field, visiting the customers and getting to know them. The customer representatives bring a list of questions to in-depth sit-down meetings that might last more than an hour, Lechner explained. “We want customers to be our partners,” he said, and the first step is to understand those customers.
J.D. Power, a marketing information services firm, annually measures satisfaction among business customers of 102 targeted U.S. electric utilities that serve more than 25,000 business customers. The survey rates for overall satisfaction, calculated on a 1,000-point scale across six factors (in order of importance): power quality and reliability; corporate citizenship; price; billing and payment; communications; and customer service.
The 2016 results show overall satisfaction among electric utility business customers to be at its highest level in eight years, driven mainly by communications, corporate citizenship and price. John Hazen, director of energy practice at J.D. Power, observed that communication and corporate citizenship are important to businesses. “Business customers like to see their provider giving back, whether it’s through charities and civic organizations or through economic development such as buying locally and creating jobs,” he said.
Western congratulates Omaha Public Power District, Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Salt River Project for recognizing what their business customers want and delivering it.
Source: APPA Public Power Daily, 2/9/16
Public Power Week, Oct. 4-10, is a great excuse to remind your members that they are the “public” in public power, and to educate them about energy issues. America Public Power Association (APPA) has put together a list of online resources to help cooperatives and municipal utilities in their public outreach efforts, during Public Power Week and beyond. You can link to them from your website and include the resources in your publications and communications.
- Department of Energy Science Education
This website supports science education through educational online content, resources for parents and teachers, internships and student partnership programs, and national events for students like Solar Decathlon and the National Science Bowl. Younger students can delve into energy science and conservation with resources like Energy Kids, Energy Star for Kids and an energy-themed coloring book.
- DOE Energy Saver
What better way to celebrate Public Power Week than introducing your members to this treasure trove of tools and information on saving energy and money at home. If your utility already shares Energy Saver tips through your website and bill stuffers, consider tying topics from Prices and Trends to a big-picture story about how public power benefits the community.
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Student’s Corner
Very few people outside the power industry now what FERC does or the part the commission plays in keeping our lights on. Even adults could learn a thing or two from the games, quizzes and other multimedia on this website.
- APPA’s Energy Efficiency Resource Central
Don’t just start a new energy-efficiency program for your members—use these resources to explain to them why energy efficiency is good for them and for the community.
- Alliance to Save Energy Top Ten Energy Efficiency Tips
Everyone loves a Top Ten list, especially when it makes saving energy easy at home, work, school and on the go.
- Environmental Protection Agency What You Can Do
Answer your members’ questions about climate change and offer simple steps they can take at home, school and the office to protect the climate, reduce air pollution and save money.
- Electrical Safety Foundation International Home Safety, Workplace Safety and Public Safety
Let your members know you care about their safety with tips for consumers and educators from ESFI.
- APPA Pride in Public Power campaign
This campaign encourages public power utility managers, staff and governing bodies to promote the benefits of public power to the communities they serve. Find programs and tools to help you tell your story.
Source: American Public Power Association