Electro-Tech Expo showcases efficient technology

For the 16th year, a Western customer and an investor-owned utility are teaming up to expose energy professionals in the Upper Great Plains region to cutting-edge equipment and systems and the latest in best construction practices.

US Chamber of Commerce Senior Policy Director Heath Knakmuhs spoke at the 15th annual Electro-Technology Expo last year. The event attracts policy makers as well as experts from across the electronics, construction and utility industries.

US Chamber of Commerce Senior Policy Director Heath Knakmuhs spoke at the 15th annual Electro-Technology Expo last year. The event attracts policy makers as well as experts from across the electronics, construction and utility industries. (Photo by Black Hills Power)

The 2016 Electro-Technology Expo  You are leaving Western's site. will take place, Jan. 21, 2016, at the Ramkota Best Western Inn and Convention Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. West River Electric Association You are leaving Western's site. of Wall, South Dakota, and Black Hills Power You are leaving Western's site. of Rapid City co-sponsor this popular event. Western also supports the Expo as a co-sponsor. UGP Energy Services Representative Georganne Myers said, “It’s a great place for our customers to network and learn so much in one day, and the price is affordable.” Admission to Electro-Technology Expo is $30, which includes qualifying code hours and continuing education credits.

Something for everybody
In fact, the Electro-Technology Expo is designed specifically to bring professionals together. This year’s Keynote Speaker is Mike Eggl, senior vice president of Communications and Administration for Basin Electric Power Cooperative You are leaving Western's site.. Vendors display state-of-the-art, energy-efficiency technology on the exhibit floor where utility program managers and contractors can inspect the equipment and get answers to their questions. Industry experts conduct workshops on topics of concern to power providers, facility managers and building industry professionals.

This year’s sessions include:

  • LED street and area lighting case studies – several sessions plus vendor booths
  • Demand management systems
  • Geothermal systems
  • Energy-efficient lighting technology
  • Home weatherization
  • Sustainability incentives
  • Electrical code classes (three sessions)
  • Motors and drives
  • Heat pump system troubleshooting
  • Hydronic in-floor heating systems
  • Changes in water heater regulations
  • Utility energy-efficiency program overview

Organizers distribute surveys at the end of the event to ask attendees for suggestions on future topics. “We start working on the next Expo the day after,” said Black Hills Power Energy Services Engineer Don Martinez.

Going strong
The value of the Expo shows in its enduring popularity. Attendance has grown over the years to more than 300 in 2015. Part of the growth has to do with an explosion of energy-related technologies. “Each year, attendees can count on seeing something new,” Martinez observed. “So much is happening in the industry, it can be hard to keep up. The Expo is a one-day crash course.”

The speaker roster is drawn mainly from vendors and suppliers, who have the opportunity to reach out to potential customers. Design and construction professionals; facility energy managers; building system specialists and real estate sales representatives, appraisers and inspectors can network with one another. Utility professionals get to meet with attendees from industries that have a profound effect on energy use.

The Expo planning committee has also built relationships with the local trade schools and school of mines. “It’s a chance to familiarize students with different aspects of the energy industry and let them know what kind of careers are out there for them,” Martinez explained. “The Expo is not a job fair, but connections happen,” he added.

Spreading efficiency
Putting on an event like the Expo is a lot of work that many utilities would consider beyond their scope. For Black Hills and West River, however, the Expo is a way to educate customers about equipment and practices that can reduce utility bills and operating costs. Getting trade allies excited about more efficient products to offer their customers has an upstream effect, as well, driving eventual market transformation.

The benefits of creating a forum for sharing information about energy-efficiency technologies and practices are significant enough to get a public power utility and an investor-owned utility to work together. “It is not often you see a joint effort between a public power utility and an IOU,” acknowledged Martinez. “But customer education is an important part of every power provider’s mission.”

For more information about the 2016 Electro-Technology Expo, on either attending or exhibiting, contact Jamie Hill at 605-721-2276.

ENERGY STAR lists Top 5 reasons to give energy-efficient gifts

The holiday shopping season is about to shift into high gear, and new electronics will undoubtedly appear on many wish lists. Unfortunately, those gifts can come with a hidden price tag—higher utility bills in the New Year. Help your customers add energy efficiency to their shopping carts with these five suggestions from ENERGY STAR.EnergyStarXmas

  1. TVs offer the hottest featuresYou don’t have to sacrifice those sought-after bells and whistles like smart TV functionality, ultra-high definition, large screens, LED backlighting to keep your electricity bill down. ENERGY STAR-certified TVs offer all the latest features, as well as being more than 25 percent more energy-efficient than standard models.
  2. Sound bars sound even betterSound bars, wireless speakers and gadgets with Bluetooth connectivity are among the most popular new products, and some of the latest to earn the ENERGY STAR. You can make the audiophile on your list happy with gifts that are up to 60 percent more efficient.
  3. Give the “bright” giftENERGY STAR-certified LED, or light-emitting diode, bulbs make great gifts and stocking stuffers. Lighting technology is changing so quickly that it can be hard to keep track of the latest developments. Choosing the ENERGY STAR label is an easy way to make sure you get the energy efficiency and performance you expect. LED bulbs that earn the label are independently certified to ensure they deliver on brightness and color, and shine light where you want it.
  4. ‘Tis the season to be streamingTell your loved ones who like to stream movies and videos that laptops and tablets use the least amount of energy. Or better yet, give them an ENERGY STAR-certified slate or tablet. These personal devices use 10 times less power to stream than a game console does, seven times less power than streaming directly to a television and six times less than streaming to a desktop computer and monitor.
  5. The environment is on everyone’s wish listShopping for electronics can be overwhelming, but the little blue label makes the choice easier. ENERGY STAR products are designed and certified to save energy, a gift that keeps on giving long after the decorations are packed away and the last sugar cookie is eaten. It is the thought that counts and ENERGY STAR gifts show that you are thinking about innovative technology today and a cleaner environment tomorrow.

And although we would never recommend giving large home appliances as Christmas gifts, January and February are big months for those kinds of purchases. Use holiday bill inserts to remind your customers of the benefits of ENERGY STAR appliances and any customer rebates your utility offers.

Happy holidays from Western and ENERGY STAR.

Source: ENERGY STAR, 11/19/14

ACEEE report finds energy and water savings in clothes washer market

The clothes washer market represents a big opportunity for energy, water and money savings, according to a new white paper by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Redirecting to a non-government site (ACEEE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council Redirecting to a non-government site  (NRDC).

Saving Water and Energy through Clothes Washer Replacement in the Great Lakes Region profiles various opportunities for energy and water savings in the residential and commercial sectors. The report focuses on the Great Lakes states, but markets throughout the country have the potential to capture these savings.

The residential sector is not yet fully saturated with efficient units, and washer energy and water use varies significantly among units. Some utilities are basing rebate programs on the TopTen USA Redirecting to a non-government site and ENERGY STAR Most Efficient Redirecting to a non-government site lists, which designate the most efficient products among Energy Star-qualified appliances, and realizing substantial savings. Upgrading a residential clothes washer to a TopTen unit can result in energy savings up to 62 percent and water savings as much as 68 percent.

Programs targeting commercial machines are another source of savings. Commercial units do almost four times as many loads per day as residential units, and only 32 percent of the commercial washers sold are efficient units. For example, replacing the single load or “family size” commercial washers that are primarily found in multifamily laundry rooms with more efficient units can reduce energy use by 30 percent and water use by almost 50 percent.

The white paper finds that the diversity of the commercial market requires targeted approaches to address the specific energy- and water-saving opportunities in each sector. To better understand energy and water consumption in commercial laundry facilities, NRDC and ACEEE will be designing and implementing a pilot utility program for a target state in the Great Lakes region.