Check out presentations from 11th RMUEE

This year's RMUEE was one of the best-attended in the event's 11-year history. More than 150 utility program managers and trade allies from around the Rocky Mountain region came to Aspen to learn and brainstorm.

This year’s RMUEE was one of the best-attended in the event’s 11-year history. More than 150 utility program managers and trade allies from around the Rocky Mountain region came to Aspen to learn and brainstorm.(Photo by UtilityExchange.org)

If you did not make it to Aspen this year to network with more than 150 utility professionals and trade allies, you can still find out what everyone was talking about (some of it, anyway). Download the presentations You are leaving WAPA.gov. from the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange (RMUEE), Sept. 27-29, to get a taste of this year’s hot topics.

Energy Auditor Eileen Wysocki of Holy Cross Energy shares her experience with her colleagues during a presentation. "Share, not stare," is the guiding philosophy of the RMUEE.

Energy Auditor Eileen Wysocki of Holy Cross Energy shares her experience with her colleagues during a presentation. “Share, not stare,” is the guiding philosophy of the RMUEE. (Photo by UtilityExchange.org)

Evergreen issues like customer engagement, quality assurance and program evaluation appeared alongside newer issues like electric vehicles, energy storage and smart buildings. If a theme ran through the event it was that utilities must look forward and plan for what is coming next. The industry must grapple with changing demographics, technologies that are altering the customer-utility dynamic and maturing strategies and policies that make energy and cost savings goals harder to reach.

And did we mention, Aspen, Colorado, in September? (Photo by UtilityExchange.org)

If these issues ring a bell, browse the RMUEE presentations to learn more about how your colleagues are preparing for the future. Then you can save the date of Sept. 19-21, 2018, to join them in person at the 12th annual Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange.

Sign up to receive notices of upcoming events, including the Call for Presenters for the 12th RMUEE in January 2018.

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.

Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange a decade strong, growing

Sept. 28-30
Aspen Meadows Resort
Aspen, Colorado

To say that the utility landscape has changed since 2007 is a laughable understatement—new technologies, new regulations, new customer expectations and economic ups and downs challenge our industry like never before. But the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange, You are leaving WAPA.gov. now in its tenth year, provides attendees with a touchstone for the evolution of their customer efficiency programs.

The Doerr-Hosier Conference Center at Aspen Meadows Resort has been the "home" of the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange since 2007. (Photo by Aspen Meadows Resort)

The Doerr-Hosier Conference Center at Aspen Meadows Resort has been the “home” of the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange since 2007. (Photo by Aspen Meadows Resort)

It seems like only yesterday that 92 Colorado utility program staff and allies gathered at Aspen Meadows Resort for the first Colorado Utility Efficiency Exchange. Programmable thermostats were basically timers that controlled your furnace and there was little or no talk of micro-grids or data analytics. Compact fluorescent lights (CFL) were state-of-the-art lighting technology and the centerpiece of many a utility energy efficiency initiatives.

Learning to share
In fact, the event grew out of a meeting UtilityExchange.org You are leaving WAPA.gov. Executive Director Ed Thomas attended at Platte River Power Authority You are leaving WAPA.gov. on the possibility of coordinating a statewide CFL retailer point-of-purchase promotion. Adam Perry, Platte River’s customer services supervisor for energy efficiency, had just moved to Colorado from Oregon where he was accustomed to working with multiple utilities on customer programs. “I thought it was that way across the country,” Perry admitted. “I wondered where Colorado utilities got together to talk to their peers about their programs and collaborate on regional programs. I soon found out that venue didn’t exist.”

The meeting also included Jeff Rice, then utilities efficiency specialist for the city of Aspen You are leaving WAPA.gov.. Thomas asked the two if their utilities would be interested in supporting an event where program managers could exchange ideas on energy-efficiency programs and learn from each other. “The hope was that sharing would lead to regional and statewide partnerships and collaboration,” explained Perry. “Looking back I can say that RMUEE has allowed me to build great friendships and relationships with my utility program peers. Being able to share ideas and our successes and failures in energy-efficiency program design and implementation has really benefitted both me and my utility.”

The city of Aspen became the event host, in no small part because Rice had just received an energy-efficiency mandate and had no idea where to start. Gas utilities were also being required to launch demand-side management (DSM) efforts, and their program managers were equally eager to learn from others. Returning attendees acknowledge that their programs did, indeed, make “progress through poaching.” Jim Dillon, Black Hills Energy senior manager for energy efficiency, has attended several exchanges over the years. “We feel that the ability to collaborate with our peers is instrumental in building a quality energy-efficiency portfolio that serves all customer classes and moves customers down the energy efficiency pathway,” he said.

Attendees, issues have staying power
The event grew, attracting attendees from the wider region, and the name changed in 2011 to Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange to reflect this inclusive approach. This year, more than 120 attendees—many familiar faces—are expected to come together to grapple with underlying questions that are also all too familiar: How do we meet mandates? How do we increase the efficiency of the building stock? How do we educate and engage customers? How do we fund programs? How does new technology fit into the bigger picture?

The agenda puts a 2016 spin on these timeless issues, starting with a round table discussion based on topics suggested in a survey You are leaving WAPA.gov. you can submit in advance (by Sept. 23). Presentations on Wednesday, Sept. 28, focus on teaching customers to take control of their energy use and integrating the most effective approaches to meet aggressive energy-efficiency goals. A case study on a good, old-fashioned municipal lighting upgrade—now with LED [light-emitting diode] technology—wraps up the first day’s sessions.

The popular dual-track schedule on Thursday morning allows attendees to switch between residential- and commercial-focused sessions. On the residential side, speakers will share their experiences designing, financing, marketing and delivering programs to help homeowners save energy. Aspen Utilities Efficiency Specialist Ryland French will talk about the city’s participation in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition. The commercial track will cover strategies for motivating different types of business customers and ways to increase their satisfaction. The afternoon offers program snapshots and a look at market transformation and financing models.

Bryan Hannegan of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Ben Bixby, energy products director for Nest Labs, You are leaving WAPA.gov. will deliver the keynote speeches. Hannegan, NREL’s associate lab director for energy systems integration, will talk about integrating electricity, fuel, thermal, water and communication networks to achieve a more sustainable society. Bixby’s keynote will explore business models and partnering strategies for utilities.  Sneak Peek Preview webinars were conducted with the keynotes and advisory committee in August and the archived recordings are available on the event home page.

Eat! Drink! Network!
One feature that helps to keep the RMUEE fresh and growing is that as much “exchanging” happens outside the sessions as during. Presentations are where the conversations begin, but they continue, deepen and expand during refreshment breaks, meals and receptions.

Attendees at the 2015 Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange wave their green flags to signal that they will be back next year.

All in favor of going to the 2016 Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange, wave your green card! (Photo by DKeith Pictures)

Wednesday night’s poster reception is like a private presentation where you can question the speaker one-on-one, with a beverage and snack in hand. The Thursday night networking event at the Limelight in Aspen is a chance to mix it up with the rest of the attendees in an even more relaxed setting.

Other things that haven’t changed in 10 years include:

  • The food at Aspen Meadows Resort is still delicious
  • Aspen is still beautiful in the fall
  • Dress is still casual (leave the tie at home)
  • WAPA Energy Services representatives will be there

Yes, the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange gives us a chance to meet with you, our customers, in one place. We catch up on what is happening in your world, answer questions you might have and learn from you. Every year since 2007, we have returned from the RMUEE, impressed with your innovative ideas and commitment to doing the best for your communities. And we look forward to seeing what the next decade brings. See you in Aspen!

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.

Public Utility Commission studies DSM efforts

Utility DSM in Colorado: Past, Present and Future
Paul C. Caldara, P.E., Colorado Department of Regulatory

The CUE Exchange opened with Paul Caldara of the Colorado Public Utility Commission, delivering a keynote address on utility demand-side management in Colo.

Caldara, a 20-year veteran of the utility industry, joined PUC’s advisory staff about the same time as House Bill 07-1037 was passed. The bill requires investor-owned gas utilities in the state to make rules for DSM programs. Electric utilities must litigate their programs with the PUC.

Each year, utilities file a DSM report with PUC that goes into the annual report the commission files with the Colorado General Assembly. In 2009, each dollar spent on DSM at gas utilities yielded $1.33 in benefits to ratepayers. For electric utilities, the ratio is a dollar spent for $4.00 benefit.

PUC still has many questions regarding what can be considered DSM.  Does it include rate design, reducing distribution system energy loss by increasing distribution conductor size, or is it any measure that increases generator efficiency? Will strategies, smart grid and other technologies that give consumers immediate feedback on their consumption be considered DSM or displace it? “There are a lot of questions,” Caldara said, “but no answers, yet.”

To answer these questions, PUC gathers information through dockets, at least 31 of which have been related to DSM, demand response or smart grid this year. The dockets are searchable online—see Caldara’s presentation (to be posted on the CUE Exchange agenda page) for the numbers.

Caldara concluded by telling attendees that events like the CUE Exchange are invaluable for collecting information—for sharing ideas, giving each other feedback on programs and meeting partners. “And the most important sharing takes place after 5 o’clock,” he said.

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.

Agenda for Colorado Utility Efficiency Exchange now online

Find out what informative and thought-provoking ideas will be discussed at the fourth annual Colorado Utility Efficiency Exchange, Oct. 13-15, in Aspen, Colo. The 2010 agenda has just been updated with speakers, session titles and poster topics.

Western’s Energy Services is sponsoring the event, and Breaking News will be covering the sessions live from Aspen. Let us know which session most interest you so we can highlight them here.

Don’t see the subject you most want to talk about? Just because the agenda looks full, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to suggest another topic. Share your ideas in “Comments,” or e-mail them to Energy Services or the Utility Exchange. See you in Aspen!

Utilities join SEPA fact-finding mission to Japan

A diverse cluster of utility industry executives from Hawaii to Maine and points in between are heading to Japan this week for the Solar Electric Power Association’s third annual mission to study what foreign countries have been doing to deploying solar. The mission, for utility decisions makers, will assemble in Tokyo and travel throughout Central Japan, ending in Kyoto.

The purpose of the mission is to provide opportunities to exchange information with Japanese utilities, solar integrators, technology researches and policy makers. The weeklong mission will include peer-to-peer, utility-to-utility meetings, residential and commercial rooftop PV installation visits, tours of research facilities and meetings with leading solar manufacturers and project developers.

In addition to meeting with Japanese solar industry representatives and policy makers, the delegation will also tour commercial installations and research facilities. Among other sites, a visit is planned to the Ota City PV Demonstration Project — 2.13 megawatt roof-mounted systems aggregated on 533 houses.

Follow the mission’s progress on EnergyBlogs.com, as Editor Martin Rosenberg joins the delegation.

CUE Exchange calls for presenters

The deadline for suggesting topics for the 4th annual Colorado Utility Efficiency Exchange is July 31. The City of Aspen Utilities is hosting the event, Oct. 13-15, at Aspen Meadows Resort.

Modeled on the Utility Energy Forum, the CUE Exchange is a gathering of professionals from energy and water utilities serving Colorado and neighboring states, trade allies and sponsoring organizations dedicated to efficiency. Over three days, participants discuss customer programs related to energy and water efficiency, renewable energy, demand response and key account customer management. Participants ask questions, form partnerships and come up with new ideas, with emphasis on the regional point of view. 

An ad hoc Agenda Planning Committee puts together the agenda each year, but don’t think that gets you off the hook. Your input is more than welcomed–it is what makes the CUE Exchange fresh and relevant.  Anyone can recommend themselves or others to present a 30″ x 40″ poster, a 10-minute “snapshot” panel presentation or a 30-minute presentation.

To submit your recommendations to the committee, complete the online form with information as you would like it to appear in the published agenda. Don’t forget to include a brief bio sketch of your qualifications to present your topic. To suggest topics only, scroll down to the last  large box on the form.