Conference highlights initiatives worth imitating

Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange
Aspen Meadows Resort
Sept. 27-29

Rolling into its second decade, the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange You are leaving WAPA.gov. 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.

Utility program managers will be gathering at the Gold LEED-certified Doerr-Hosier Center at Aspen Meadows Resort Sept. 26-29 to share their ideas for taking customer efficiency programs to the next level.

Utility program managers will be gathering at the Gold LEED-certified Doerr-Hosier Center at Aspen Meadows Resort Sept. 27-29 to share their ideas for taking customer efficiency programs to the next level. (Photo by Randy L. Martin)

Forward-looking agenda
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 You are leaving WAPA.gov. 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 You are leaving WAPA.gov., 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 You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Holy Cross Energy You are leaving WAPA.gov. will join Fort Collins Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov., Colorado Springs Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov., Nebraska Municipal Power Pool You are leaving WAPA.gov. and many more regional utilities to talk about the state of customer programs in 2017. Research agencies and nonprofits like Rocky Mountain Institute You are leaving WAPA.gov. and National Renewable Energy Laboratory team up with program vendors such as CLEAResult You are leaving WAPA.gov., Franklin Energy You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Nexant You are leaving WAPA.gov. 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.

Enjoy Aspen
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 You are leaving WAPA.gov. awards continuing education units (CEUs) for many of the sessions. Download the instructions to find out how to verify your attendance.

Change is in air at Utility Energy Forum

May 3-5, 2017
Santa Rosa, California

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 You are leaving WAPA.gov. to run out of things to say about this year’s theme, “Change is the Only Constant – Customers, Policy and Technology.”

Packed agenda
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, You are leaving WAPA.gov. 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 You are leaving WAPA.gov. will discuss its revamped residential new construction program, formerly known as Best Home. Burbank Water and Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. 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 You are leaving WAPA.gov. 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.

This year, the Utility Energy Forum is meeting at the Hilton Sonoma, in the heart of the California wine country.

This year, the Utility Energy Forum is meeting at the Hilton Sonoma, in the heart of the California wine country. (Photo by Hilton)

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 You are leaving WAPA.gov. 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.

Register today!
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.

Submit presentation proposals for Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange

Deadline: Feb. 27, 2017

WAPA customers are known for creating initiatives worth imitating, and we would like you to share yours for the 11th Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange You are leaving WAPA.gov.(RMUEE). Proposals for sessions You are leaving WAPA.gov. are due Feb. 27, and the Advisory Committee is particularly interested in topics from utilities and government agencies addressing this year’s theme, “Initiatives Worth Imitating.”

(Art work by Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange)

Power providers are taking residential, commercial and industrial programs to a whole new level using imagination to create new offerings, innovation to improve existing programs and integration to break down the silos of thinking. Your successes should be on the agenda when more than 100 utility and government representatives and trade allies meet in Aspen, Colorado, Sept. 27-29.

Conference attendees will be exploring case study best practices and lessons learned about programs related to energy and water efficiency issues and integration with renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management. Special consideration will be given to suggestions for sessions that address:

  • New energy-efficiency and demand-management technology
  • Strategic onsite energy and distribution system management
  • Workforce culture and program staffing challenges
  • Pay-for-performance approaches
  • Consumer engagement
  • Indoor growers and other commercial customer segments at the water/energy nexus
  • Electric vehicle charging, energy storage and other new end-use applications

You may choose a format for your presentation from several options:

  • General or breakout sessions up to 20 minutes in length with Q&A
  • Snapshot panel talks up to five minutes in length
  • Poster discussions during the Wednesday evening reception
  • Workshops or Roundtable Discussions two to four hours in length (for Friday morning)

There is also more than one way to participate. If you have never attended the RMUEE and don’t yet have a program to share, you could be eligible for one of a limited number of scholarships. Or maybe you would like to sponsor the event, a great way to promote your organization. Learn more about these options from the FAQ sheet.

Whatever your level of participation in the RMUEE, you will enjoy an outstanding learning and networking experience in a relaxed atmosphere conducive to sharing. You may even turn this year’s inspiration into next year’s “boffo” presentation.

Home of Utility Energy Forum gets efficiency facelift

36th annual Utility Energy Forum
May 4-6, 2016
Tahoe City, California

Artwork by the Utility Energy Forum

Artwork by the Utility Energy Forum

The Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. (UEF) generates a lot of ideas about energy efficiency and management, and it seems to have rubbed off on Granlibakken TahoeYou are leaving WAPA.gov. the event’s most frequent host. When the premier networking event for utility program managers in western states meets May 4-6, it will be in Placer County, California’s showcase project for the Better Buildings Challenge.

“The Transformed Utility: Connecting for Success” is the theme for the 36th annual UEF. “So it’s fitting that the forum is taking place in a facility that has recently undergone an efficiency transformation,” observed Western Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman. “Energy efficiency is going to be a critical component in tackling the challenges utilities are facing.”

“We started focusing on transformation as a theme last year because so much is changing so fast in our industry,” acknowledge Mary Medeiros McEnroe, Silicon Valley Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. Public Benefit Program manager and UEF president. “We need to be looking at the future, to see where we need to go with customer service and technology.”

Placer County demonstrated that forward-looking spirit when it took the Better Buildings Challenge. The upgrade combined innovative financing, public-private partnerships and high-tech solutions to reduce Granlibakken’s energy consumption by up to 43 percent. “That is the kind of flexibility and creative thinking utilities will need to meet new mandates and shifting customer expectations,” said Horstman.

Agenda highlights big issues
Those topics and more appear throughout the UEF agenda and in the pre-forum workshop for utilities and government representatives only. Eligible attendees voted on the issues they will be discussing Wednesday morning prior to the UEF kickoff. Their leading concerns include how utilities can benefit from energy storage technology, measuring energy savings from water conservation and the new roles being thrust on utilities. “One of the reasons the UEF has grown so much over the past few years is the work the planning committee has done in reaching out to identify relevant topics,” noted McEnroe.”

The forum officially opens with a keynote address by Sue Kelly, president of the American Public Power Association, on possibilities for incorporating new technologies and services into their customer service options. The afternoon continues with the strategic policy panel discussion, co-chaired by Modesto Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. Energy Services Supervisor Bob Hondeville. “Co-chairing different panels is always interesting and educational for me,” said the UEF veteran. “It is rewarding to be able to have a dialogue with the speakers and introduce relevant topics to the discussion.”

The second morning of the UEF begins with a session on communicating thermostats. “Customers are asking for the thermostats and other smart tools, while utilities are still figuring out how to design effective programs with them,” said Medeiros McEnroe, who is chairing the session. “There is definitely a learning curve for both parties. I’m looking forward to hearing what Energy Star has to say about the technology.”

Vanessa Lara of Merced Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. is co-chairing the “customer’s view” session later that day. The panel includes Ron Parson of Granlibakken Management Company, who will be discussing their retrofitting experience.

Technology is the subject of afternoon sessions, exploring the latest in programs and tools to improve building design, retrofitting and energy audits. Attendees will also learn about demand response, supply- and demand-side management resources, as well as advances in electric vehicle and heating and cooling technologies. The final day features deeper explorations of specific systems and equipment.

Greening up networking
Much of Granlibakken’s energy savings are coming from replacing obsolete refrigerators, dishwashers and stove-hood exhaust systems with energy-efficient models. So the informal networking over great meals and snacks—where so many important connections are made—is now an energy saver, too. Consider that a good excuse to enjoy an extra dessert or appetizer.

Many partnerships, plans and programs have been hatched over the excellent meals in the Granlibakken dining room.

Many partnerships, plans and programs have been hatched over the excellent meals in the Granlibakken dining room. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Attendees will also enjoy sessions and events like the networking reception and the “Any Port in a Storm” port wine tasting in newly efficient comfort. Automated heating and air conditioning systems were installed to increase the efficiency of the facility’s natural gas boilers. You can leave your suits at home—the UEF is still a business casual function—but you may want to bring your swimwear and gym gear to make use of the resort’s fitness facilities.

The most important thing to bring to the Utility Energy Forum, however, is yourself: your ideas, your experience and your curiosity. “The UEF is unique in that it brings together people who are ready to build relationships and collaborate,” said Medeiros McEnroe. “I have come up with a number of partnerships with other utilities and service providers from past events.”

There is still time to register and, if you are a Western customer who is attending for the first time, to save some green. Western offers first-timers a small stipend to help offset the cost of the event. Contact Sandee Peebles, Audrey Colletti or Ron Horstman to learn more.

Conference focuses on resource planning for utilities

If integrated resource planning (IRP) seemed difficult in the past, a whole new set of factors; including the Clean Power Plan, advances in storage, renewable energy portfolios and smart devices galore; are piling on to make it more challenging—and more important—than ever. An upcoming conference, How Changes in the 2016 Grid Affect IRPs You are leaving Western's site., may help your utility address those challenges, while building general planning skills.

The professional development company EUCI is presenting its 16th Annual Integrated Resource Planning Conference, March 20-22, in Long Beach, California. The conference provides a showcase for IRP “best practices” that takes into account the new pressures utilities face in managing and forecasting their loads.

Far-reaching program
The agenda is designed not just for resource and strategic planners, but for financial analysts, efficiency and demand response program managers and professionals who are responsible for mandate compliance as well.

Speakers include leading utility and power resource planning professionals and related industry experts. Presentations will use case studies to illustrate methodologies that predict and plan for future operational and investment requirements. Key topics include:

  • Properly modeling energy storage and integrating it into an IRP
  • How Clean Power Plan requirements should be rendered in the IRP planning process and document
  • How to factor operational flexibility requirements into resource selection decision-making
  • Planning for uncertainty and risk related to fuel prices and transportation infrastructure
  • Determining a utility’s avoided cost for PURPA [Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act]and variable generation (VG) resources

In addition to two days of packed sessions, EUCI has also scheduled pre- and post-conference workshops. IRP Planning Challenges and Critical Analysis for Emerging Business Models, March 21, provides analytic, modeling and planning insights as they relate to the new business forces that are transforming the utility industry. On March 23, following the conference wrap-up, Energy Storage Valuation examines the questions utilities and system planners have relating to modeling and implementing storage.

What you get
Participants will learn about developing comprehensive resource plans that provide solutions to operational issues and accurately account for variables. Sessions will offer insights on the impact of renewables on carbon emissions, and on communicating IRP results to stakeholders and regulators. Attendees can gain practical resource planning skills that will help position their utilities to negotiate the industry’s rapidly evolving business model environment.

Besides new skills, EUCI is offering .9 continuing education units (CEU) for the conference and .3 CEUs for each workshop. The International Association for Continuing Education and Training You are leaving Western's site. has accredited EUCI as an authorized training provider.

Good for you, for Western
Energy Services is not only suggesting that our customers investigate this training opportunity—we are planning to send representatives to the IRP Conference, as well. It is critical that Western understands the demands of the new planning environment thoroughly to give our customers the support they need as the industry changes.

Register before March 4 to receive the early-bird discount. EUCI is offering a discount for organizations wishing to send multiple attendees. Send three delegates and the fourth attends for free, as long as all registrations are made at the same time. Contact Ron Horstman for more information about the package discount.

Rooms at Hyatt the Pike, the conference location, must be reserved before Feb. 20 to receive the special group rate.

Increase your energy efficiency IQ at two fall events

Maybe it is the debate over the administration’s clean power plan or Tesla’s announcement of a new consumer energy storage system or the media buzz around the “Internet of things.” Whatever the reason, consumers—both residential and commercial—are thinking and talking more about energy use and management. Despite a lot of gloomy prognosticating, that is good for utilities. Two upcoming conferences, one new and one established, can help you to turn this growing consumer interest in energy use to your advantage.

Spanning Western territory
The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange is now in its ninth year of bringing together utility program managers and industry allies to explore the many facets of energy-efficiency programs. Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, Colorado, will host conference veterans and newcomers Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 for in-depth discussion, discovery and networking.

Does your service territory look more like prairie than mountain? Then consider attending the Introduction to Demand Response training, Integrating Energy Efficiency with Demand Response in the Midwest workshop and networking reception in Chicago, Sept. 15 to16. These three separate events have a slightly different focus than the RMUEE, but still provide an outstanding learning opportunity for utility professionals involved in energy efficiency and demand response.

Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman passes the microphone. RMUEE is a "share, not stare" event where every attendee is encouraged to speak up. (Photo by Tiger Adolf)

Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman passes the microphone. RMUEE is a “share, not stare” event where every attendee is encouraged to speak up. (Photo by Tiger Adolf)

Hear from leaders
Western customers are involved in both events, so you can expect to hear a frontline perspective on program creation, management and evaluation. The City of Aspen Utilities, Holy Cross Energy and Platte River Power Authority are long-time sponsors of RMUEE. Representatives from those utilities will moderate panels and give presentations alongside many other Western customers.

At the workshop portion of the Chicago event, Ken Glaser of Connexus Energy, a member cooperative from Great River Energy will participate in a demand response roundtable. Representatives from Consumers Energy and Duke Energy are also on the panel.

Event sponsors Peak Load Management Association (PLMA) and Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) chose speakers with hands-on experience in creating and implementing demand response (DR) and demand-side management (DSM) programs. Gary Connett, demand-side management director at Great River and PLMA member noted that cooperatives and municipal utilities are leaders in load management. “They are a great resource for power providers who are just getting their programs started.”

Start your programs right
The event is specifically for utilities that are new to DSM and DR, added Connett. “The workshop is designed for people who are considering their first program and are looking for models and ideas,” he explained. “Attendees will learn the fundamentals of each strategy, the benefits and how to implement a program.”

 Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance headquarters is located in the Historic Civic Opera Building, about 20 minutes from either Chicago Midway International Airport or O'Hare International Airport. (Artwork by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)

Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance headquarters is located in the Historic Civic Opera Building, about 20 minutes from either Chicago Midway International Airport or O’Hare International Airport. (Artwork by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)

Introduction to Demand Response is a good place for newcomers to begin. The one-day course provides a comprehensive overview of demand response topics. Current issues will be explored from the perspectives of utilities, retail energy providers, customers, independent system operators, and other demand response technology and services providers.

After a day of intensive training, attendees can unwind at a networking reception on the roof of MEEA headquarters. There is nothing like sipping, nibbling and chatting with colleagues in the presence of one of America’s great skylines to get the ideas flowing. The Wednesday workshop, “Integrating Energy Efficiency with Demand Response in the Midwest,” is tailored to the specific goals and challenges facing midwestern utilities. The first two sessions separately address DR and energy-efficiency professionals, and the third covers program models that successfully combine the two points of view.

You may register for all three events as a package or in any combination, including just the reception. Hotel accommodations must be reserved separately and are not included in event registration.

Efficiency issues, conference evolve
Much has changed and much has stayed the same in nearly a decade of talking energy efficiency at RMUEE. Stubborn challenges persist, such as program evaluation, reaching low-income customers and creating a trusted contractor pool, although each year brings clever and creative local solutions. On the positive side, utilities can choose from a variety of mature behavior-based programs for engaging customers, and have plenty of data to make the selection easier.

Technology, always a hot topic, keeps challenging utilities to keep up with it. Lighting upgrades continue to offer the most bang for the buck, but LED, or light-emitting diode, lamps have displaced compact fluorescent lights as the state-of-the-art in efficiency. Automated systems to manage home energy use are still popular, but programmable thermostats seem almost quaint compared to smartphone apps that allow people to control multiple systems remotely. The cost of solar panels has dropped sharply in nine years, making distributed generation a more pressing issue, and carbon emissions regulations now seem closer than ever.

The RMUEE agenda covers all these topics and more, with presentations by your colleagues—the people who design and implement customer programs. You will also hear from trade allies who offer energy products and services and from government agencies that work with utilities to meet efficiency goals.

With so much experience in one place, networking usually turns out to be the star of the RMUEE. Attendees will have plenty of time to make new contacts and compare notes with old friends during meals, breaks and receptions. For a change of pace this year, the final day will be dedicated to outdoor teambuilding activities, including a guided hike and a bike ride to the Maroon Bells. That is, weather permitting, of course, but the fall weather in Aspen is generally cooperative.

There is still time to register for RMUEE, and rooms at the Sky Motel in Aspen are available at a special conference rate. The motel is only a short drive from the Aspen Meadows Conference Center, and will also host the Thursday evening reception.

The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange and the Midwest regional workshops differ in focus. One explores the broad range of customer efficiency programs while the other hones in on two specific strategies. The target audiences deal with different geographic challenges. But the events are tied by the belief that the real experts on the utility industry are the utilities themselves. We will discover all the expertise we need to deal with environmental, regulatory and technological changes if we just talk to our neighbors.

Still time to register for Utility Energy Forum

May 13-15, 2015
Granlibakken Resort
Lake Tahoe, California

The 35th annual Utility Energy Forum Redirecting to a non-government site (UEF) is only eight weeks away. If you have been putting off your registration, now is the time to sign up for three days of networking, learning, building bridges and finding inspiration in Lake Tahoe, California.

Even better, if you are a Western customer attending the event for the first time, there are still $100 scholarships available to offset the already-reasonable fee. Western encourages its customers to attend the forum because it offers so much to utility professionals who work with consumers.

“I am really excited by this year’s agenda,” said Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman, who is on the planning committee. “Utilities face a growing list of issues that have the potential to completely remake the way we do business. The forum offers a relaxed and informal space to look at these challenges from different angles and identify hidden opportunities to create stronger business models.”

Tackling tough questions
Take, for example, the top three topics up for discussion during the Pre-forum Workshop exclusively for utility and government representatives:

  • Community solar and potential impacts on utilities
  • Distributed generation, and using micro-grid technologies to replace utility infrastructure and improve reliability
  • Utility benefits from net metering and feed-in tariffs

Some attendees may be lying awake at night wondering what to do if a mandate or consumer demand pushes them into adoption before they can assess the impacts. Others have already had experience integrating these technologies and programs into their operations and are eager to share what they have learned. The Pre-conference Workshop gets both camps together to address concerns, learn from past missteps and brainstorm innovative solutions.

Once the conference gets rolling, experts across the industry will discuss potential carbon regulations, emerging technologies, workforce development and—most importantly—consumer programs. “Our industry is in transition,” noted Horstman. “Ultimately, it is going to be the consumer that drives most of the change that threatens to disrupt business as usual.”

Utility customers have higher expectations and are more educated about energy now, he added. “They still want reliable, affordable power, but they are concerned about the environmental costs,” explained Horstman. “New technologies are becoming more affordable and giving people more choices. The ratepayers of the future may be more like partners to power providers, rather than conventional customers.”

Meeting movers
What sets the Utility Energy Forum apart from most other conferences is more than just a packed roster of (admittedly excellent) speakers. More than anything, the forum is about the opportunity to engage with the people who are doing the real work of creating and launching utility programs.

Graham Parker of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory quizzes attendees on the finer points of efficiency program management. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Graham Parker of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory quizzes attendees on the finer points of efficiency program management. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Maybe you aren’t the type to speak up during the question-and-answer portion of a presentation, or maybe you thought of a crucial and pressing question half an hour later. Don’t worry, you can ask the speaker during the break or the next meal. That would also be a good time to buttonhole the attendee who mentioned a program during the “Utility Snapshots” session that sounds a lot like one you started at your utility.

If you are shopping around for new program and policy ideas to help you meet load management goals, consider giving “speed-dating” a try. The Utility Program Stand-up Challenge assembles a veritable smorgasbord of storyboards on successful utility-sponsored energy programs. In four lightening rounds, attendees get to question presenters about the program’s goals, successes and lessons. There will be time at the end to check out other presentations to see what you missed. Or you can get more details from presenters over a glass of port during the “Any Port in a Storm” reception later that evening.

Like a mini-presentation, the Utility Program Stand-up Challenge covers the highlights of a successful program or technology in just a few minutes. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Like a mini-presentation, the Utility Program Stand-up Challenge covers the highlights of a successful program or technology in just a few minutes. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Such a deal
Another thing that distinguishes the UEF from other events is what a great bargain it is. The registration fee covers not only the high-quality sessions and networking activities, but the lodging at Granlibakken Resort and all meals as well. The off-season rates make it tempting to extend your stay before or after the conference to enjoy springtime at Lake Tahoe.

Western can make the Utility Energy Forum an even better deal for first time attendees from utility customers. Contact Ron Horstman at 720-962-7419 to learn more about eligibility and to apply.

Catching up on industry news

Welcome to 2015, a time to start fresh and explore new territory. Whether that means launching or updating efficiency programs, seeking out more education or bringing attention to your successes, here are some news items to help you on your way.

Efficiency increases in 2014
Watch for new appliance efficiency standards from the Department of Energy. In 2014, DOE issued a total of 10 new or updated standards, including commercial refrigeration, electric motors, external power supplies, furnace fans, metal halide lamps, wall-unit air conditioners and walk-in coolers. Altogether, these 10 standards will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 435 million metric tons and save American families and businesses $78 billion in electricity bills through 2030.

Source: Appliance Standards Awareness Project 1/16/15

Regulations matter
According to the Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI), fixed-cost recovery mechanisms play a significant role in supporting electric efficiency. The 2014 IEI report Redirecting to a non-government site found that investment in energy efficiency depends on state policies that allow utilities to pursue efficiency as a sustainable business as well as state mandates for energy efficiency.

Fixed-cost recovery mechanisms, such as decoupling and lost revenue adjustment, help a utility recover the marginal revenue associated with fixed operating costs. Utilities appear to be more willing to invest in programs to reduce energy use if state regulations allow them to recoup their losses.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) bolsters the IEI report, with nine of the top 10 states on its 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard Redirecting to a non-government site having a fixed-cost recovery mechanism.

Source: SmartWatt Energy News, 1/15/15

Dive into hot water
Drought will continue to be a major concern in 2015, so events that focus on water use may well become the hot ticket. The ACEEE Hot Water Forum Redirecting to a non-government site (HWF) is now in its sixth year of gathering experts to discuss making water hot, distributing it with low losses, and employing efficient fixtures and practices. Professionals from manufacturing; distribution (plumbing); electricity, gas and water utilities; government; and the research communities will meet in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 22-24 to learn from each other and build momentum for market transformation.

The conference emphasizes both the technical efficiency potential and the policy implications of service hot water technology and practices, and how people use hot water. In recent years, key topics have included:

  • Standards and rating methods
  • Grid-interactive electric water heating
  • All about heat pump water heaters
  • The latest in innovative technologies
  • Efforts to improve residential water heating efficiency
  • An international perspective on water heating

Utilities still have a great deal to learn about the water-energy nexus  and its potential for cost and resource savings.

Since 2008, this conference has provided a venue for all members of the hot water community to collaborate and share new ideas.

Source: American Council for and Energy Efficient Economy, 1/17/15

Learn something new
If professional development is on your list of resolutions, check out the pre-conference training sessions that kick off the National Conference of the Association for Energy Services ProfessionalsRedirecting to a non-government site (AESP) in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 9-12.

The sessions include:

  • Behavior Change and Energy Efficiency Programs
  • Intro to the Principles of EM&V (Evaluation, Measurement and Verification)
  • Leadership Training for Exceptional Team Performance

The fee for each course is $545, and continuing education units will be available. You don’t have to attend the conference to take advantage of the workshops, but AESP events are always great for networking and expanding your horizons.

Source: Association for Energy Services Professionals, 1/14/15

Get recognition
Submit your successful peak load and demand response management programs, initiatives and achievements for the 12th annual PLMA Awards Redirecting to a non-government site. The Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA) is accepting nominations through March 2 for the following categories:

  • Program Pacesetter – recognizes outstanding programs that effectively support and deliver peak load management
  • Technology Pioneer – recognizes innovative applications of technology with demonstrated potential to scale
  • Outstanding Thought Leader – recognizes the impact of projects, outreach campaigns and individual contributions that have the potential to shape the industry’s future

You don’t have to be a PLMA member to nominate a program, and self-nominations are appropriate. One or more awards will be presented in each category with sub-categories for Utilities, Regulators, Independent System Operator/Regional Transmission Operator, Aggregator, Marketer, Consumer, Solutions Provider, Manufacturer, Individual, Organization or Project.

The awards will be presented at the 16th PLMA Spring Conference Redirecting to a non-government site, April 28-29, 2015, in Tucson, Arizona.

If you are interested in joining PLMA, the nonprofit now offers membership in three tiers. Utilities and other program providers may now join as associate, advising or sustaining members. Membership offers access to networking events and training, and the opportunity to participate in committees and working groups at various levels.

PLMA provides resources and advocacy for organizations involved in demand response initiatives, recently announced a change to its membership structure.

Source: Peak Load Management Alliance, 1/16/15

Energy Services is always on the lookout for information to help our customers cope with the challenges of delivering power in a changing industry. Feel free to share news items about events, programs, policies and technology that your utility finds useful.

16th PLMA Spring Conference “Call for Presenters” now underway

The Peak Load Management AllianceRedirecting to a non-government site (PLMA) is seeking session presentation proposals through Friday, Dec. 12, for the 16th PLMA Spring Conference taking place April 28-29, 2015, in Tucson, Arizona. The program planning committee is searching for exceptional perspectives exploring best practices and cutting-edge issues that affect professionals who develop, implement and evaluate demand response programs.

It is NOT complicated!  Limit your session proposal to just one page and simply provide:

  • Presentation title and one-paragraph description as it might appear on the agenda
  • Presenter’s name, title, organization with one-paragraph bio as it might appear on the agenda
  • Brief explanation of why the session will be relevant and compelling to the audience

Need more reason to share? Selected presenters get a free conference registration!

If your presentation is chosen, don’t forget to let us know at Energy Services Bulletin. We are always on the lookout for stories about our customers’ successful and innovative load management strategies.

Read more.

Source: Peak Load Management Alliance, 11/21/14

Get ready for the 2014 GRC Annual Meeting, GEA Expo

GEAexpoJoin the Geothermal Resources CouncilRedirecting to a non-government site (GRC) and the Geothermal Energy AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site (GEA) in Portland, Oregon, Sept. 28 to Oct. 1 for the geothermal energy industry’s largest annual gathering.

The theme for the 38th GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo is Geothermal: A Global Solution. In keeping with the theme, internationally known geothermal energy experts will be among the scientists, producers, renewable energy industry stakeholders, regulators, utilities and business leaders participating in discussions and presentations.

The agenda will offer technical, policy and market conference sessions; educational seminars; tours of local geothermal and renewable energy projects; and numerous networking opportunities. The trade show brings together system and equipment vendors and other trade allies from around the world to share the latest in products, services, technologies and solutions. Entrance to the Expo Hall is included with registration for the annual meeting.

Randy Manion, Western’s Renewable Resources Program manager, hopes Western customers will take the opportunity to learn more about this base-load resource. “Geothermal energy can help utilities meet their environmental goals and mandates,” he explained. “The earth’s heat is available everywhere, and the diverse technologies for harnessing it are improving rapidly.”

Explore before expo
Newcomers to geothermal energy may want to arrive in Portland a few days early to take advantage of pre-meeting field trips. Discover how ancient volcanic activity created the fertile wine country of the Willamette Valley, or how the destructive force of Mount St. Helens is still shaping the region. Learn about the game-changing technology of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) at Altarock Energy’s Newberry Volcano Demonstration project. Or stay on to see geothermal energy in action at a post-meeting tour of the Klamath Falls campus of the Oregon Institute of Technology, home of the world famous Geo-Heat CenterRedirecting to a non-government site.

Attendees who are actively considering undertaking a geothermal project can delve into the nuts and bolts of development at pre-meeting workshops. Basic Introduction to Geothermal Systems and Exploration Strategies, on Sept. 26-27, examines the basic dynamics of geothermal resources and how to explore for them. Also scheduled for Sept. 26-27 is Geothermal Leasing, Unitization and Water Use Legal Issues, and exploration of the laws and issues associated with permitting and developing geothermal projects.

Celebrating achievement
The GRC Annual Meeting wraps up with the Awards Luncheon on Oct. 1, where the Geothermal Resources Council recognizes outstanding contributions to the industry. The GRC Awards honor distinguished colleagues in the geothermal community for achievements in advocacy, resource development, design, engineering and construction.

Moving from science to art, the 35th Annual Amateur Photo Contest is showcasing artistic pictures of geothermal energy in its many forms including energy production, EGS, direct use and geothermal heat pumps. Winning entries will be displayed before the Opening Session, posted during the GRC Annual Meeting and published in the GRC Bulletin, and will become part of the GRC photo library.

More work, play
Technical sessions will cover financing, exploration, case studies, regulatory issues, power operations, direct use systems and utility and transmission issues—just to scratch the surface.Check the meeting website for the full agenda.

Outside of the sessions, attendees will have the chance to unwind and network with other professionals while enjoying a unique and beautiful city. The popular Charity Golf Tournament, on Sunday, Sept. 28, and the GRC Annual Banquet on Sept. 29, promise to make memorable use of Portland amenities.

If this sounds like a great way to find out how an abundant clean energy resource might fit into your energy portfolio, make plans to attend the 38th GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo.