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.

Geothermal heat pump webinar series begins in January

Start the New Year by broadening your knowledge about an energy-efficient heating and cooling strategy that can help you meet load management goals and increase customer satisfaction. The Colorado Geo-energy and Heat Pump Association Redirecting to a non-government site (CoGEHPA) is offering three webinars on geothermal heat pump (GHP) technology.

Here’s the lineup:

The first webinar focuses on working with Colorado’s primary power provider, but utility and HVAC professionals all over the country will benefit from the two February events.

The registration fee is $25 per webinar, or free to CoGEHPA members.

And the winning CUE Exchange sessions are…

Thanks to all the readers who let us know which sessions of the Colorado Utility Efficiency Exchange they want Breaking News to cover. On Thursday, Oct. 14, the morning sessions are Focus on Residential Energy Efficiency and Focus on Commercial Efficiency.  Here is the schedule you selected: 

8:30–9:00 a.m. Utility Commercial Program Snap Shots
Five-minute highlights of utility program activities presented by the session co-chairs and other participants. 

9:00–9:30 a.m. Creating a Compelling Home Energy Audit (res.)
Learn about a pilot project by Xcel Energy and Apogee Interactive, Inc. to study the accuracy and performance of a web RESNET certified software modeling tool. 

9:30–10:00 a.m. Driving Scale and Adoption in the Hard to Reach Small Business Sector (com.)
This presentation focuses on an effective, high-touch, tiered program that drives energy education and energy-efficiency adoption in San Antonio, Texas.

10:30–11:00 a.m. Existing Home Efficiency – Covering All the Bases (res.)
Learn how Fort Collins developed the standards, training and quality assurance aspects of installing insulation, air sealing, windows and HVAC measures and get a progress report on the first 10 months.

11:00–11:30 a.m.  Residential Audits to Homeowner Action in One-Step: How Oklahoma Gas & Electric Is Driving an Innovative Bundled Energy Audit & Residential DSM Effort to Produce Surprising Results (res.) 
This overview of OG&E’s new bundled residential energy-efficiency audit and DSM program covers the program’s innovative use of technology such as real-time scheduling and staff coordination, paperless and tablet-computer driven home audit process and more.

11:30 a.m.–noon  Home Energy Audit Software Selection for Kansas and Utah (res.)
Presentation of home energy audit software selection for two different programs (Kansas and Utah) with similar but distinct objectives.

The themes of the afternoon tracks are Focus on Technology and Focus on Partnerships:

1:00–1:30 p.m. Partnership Snap Shots
Five-minute highlights of utility program activities presented by the session co-chairs and other participants.

1:30–2:00 p.m.  Select HVAC Joint Program Implementation (tech.)
The Select HVAC, a joint utility program developed by Poudre Valley REA and Platte River Power Authority, provides educational opportunities for qualified HVAC professionals and requires a commitment to proper installation practices and commissioning. 

2:00–2:30 p.m.   CARE Program (part.)
Poudre Valley REA has started a CARE program to bring energy efficiency to 50 homes in its service territory.  This program is providing funding for energy audits and improvements on participants’ homes. 

2:30–3:00 p.m.  Moving Beyond Savings: Exploring Techniques for Determining the “How” and “Why” Behavioral Program Success (part.)
Learn how to collect the information utilities really need  to move beyond cookie-cutter intervention models and get to the next level of success. 

3:30–4:00 p.m.  Why Utilities Should Add Geothermal To Their Service Offering (tech.)
Case studies summarize the demand and energy reductions from geothermal heat pump installations across the country and highlight innovative approaches that rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and investor-owned utilities are using to accelerate the deployment of these systems.

4:00–4:30 p.m. Energy Efficiency Incentives That Motivate Home and Business Owners (part.)
Discover best practices and lessons learned from leading utilities, municipalities and manufacturers that partner with installation contractors to design and deliver rebate and financing incentives.

4:30–5:00 p.m.  ENERGY STAR HVAC Quality Installation Program (tech.)
The ENERGY STAR HVAC Quality Installation program goes beyond traditional equipment incentives to deliver energy savings from proper installation of high efficiency HVAC equipment. In addition to realizing the full energy-saving potential of these systems, this new approach can increase customer confidence in their contractor and utility.

Visit the complete agenda for last minute additions to the program. If you see a session that really strikes a chord, let us know. We  encourage guest contributors, and we’ll try to enlist attendees from those sessions to fire off reports in their own words. And of course, we look forward to hearing from you, our readers.