Silicon Valley Power honored for small business efficiency efforts

The California Municipal Utilities Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CMUA) has awarded Silicon Valley Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. (SVP) the 2017 Resource Efficiency & Community Service Award for an innovative small business efficiency program. The Small Business Snapshot Audit and Direct Install Program won the Best Energy Program for a Large Municipal Electric Utility at CMUA’s annual meeting in March.

John Roukema, Director of Electric Utility for Silicon Valley Power (center), receives the Resource Efficiency and Community Service Award from the California Municipal Utilities Association. CMUA President Michelle Bertolino (left) and Executive Director Barry Moline (right) presented the award.

John Roukema, Director of Electric Utility for Silicon Valley Power (center), receives the Resource Efficiency and Community Service Award from the California Municipal Utilities Association. CMUA President Michelle Bertolino (left) and Executive Director Barry Moline (right) presented the award. (Photo by Silicon Valley Power)

Aimed at business customers with a demand of 200 kilowatts (kW) or less, the program helps the notoriously hard-to-reach sector lower energy bills by installing energy-efficient products. Smaller businesses are the ones that can benefit the most from money- and energy-saving utility programs, observed SVP Public Benefits Manager Mary Medeiros McEnroe. “But they usually don’t have the time, up-front money or awareness to take advantage of utility offerings,” she said.

Innovative delivery
To overcome those barriers, the utility designed the program to be high-penetration, low-cost and focus on the customer experience. Eligible customers received a free “snapshot” energy audit and a report for energy-saving recommendations. A third-party contractor provided and installed the energy-efficient products, so that the customer did not have to manage the process. “We have offered audits in the past, but without the direct-install component or the contractor relationship,” Medeiros McEnroe explained.

Perhaps the greatest factor in the program’s success was that Silicon Valley Power opted to provide the measures at no cost to the customer. The products included easily installed indoor and some outdoor lighting, exit and open signs, pre-rinse spray valves and faucet aerators.

The program was so popular that Silicon Valley Power extended it two additional years, through Fiscal Year 2016-2017, and added more products. “In the second round, we offered energy-efficient replacements for T-8 or T-12 tubes that weren’t on the market the previous year,” recalled Medeiros McEnroe. “We also added outdoor wall pack light fixtures, which became one of the most popular measures.”

Active partner
This program marked the first time Silicon Valley Power partnered with the utility consultant Efficiency Services Group, You are leaving WAPA.gov. chosen through a competitively bid request for proposals.

The contractor’s field representatives serve as the point of contact for the customers. Working from a detailed customer list the utility provided, the representatives called on small businesses in person, performed the free audits and installed equipment—usually efficient light bulbs— right on the spot. In the case of more expensive outdoor lighting, customers received additional free products they could install themselves if they liked the performance of the “sample,” and representatives returned to inspect the installation.

Win for everyone
Over two phases, the work saved almost 2 million kilowatt-hours for small business customers in Santa Clara, equating to more than $300,000 annually. Customers who were eligible for water efficiency measures also achieved water savings, and Silicon Valley Power gained information on customers’ electricity use that can be used to develop future programs.

The data the program collected also highlighted how different small business customers are from each other. “There is not a lot of overlap,” Medeiros McEnroe pointed out. “But we have been able to mine the information to create more targeted programs.”

For example, the utility is reaching out to food service customers who participated in the small business program to enroll them in an online Food Service Energy Efficiency Expert training program. You are leaving WAPA.gov. Based on the data, Silicon Valley Power also target marketed for a rebate for rooftop air conditioning unit controls that it is now rolling out to customers.

WAPA congratulates Silicon Valley Power on earning the CMUA award, and especially on its success in bringing efficiency programs to the small business sector. When it comes to innovation and consumer satisfaction, our customers lead the pack.

Western customers play role in latest green power rankings

The latest Green Power Partnership update on renewable energy use by businesses, government facilities and educational institutions shows the importance of partners in meeting clean power goals. Western customers—and Western itself—figure prominently on the quarterly list released April 25. gpp_logo

There are now 764 Green Power Partners using renewable energy to meet 100 percent of their U.S. organizationwide electricity use. That is a lot of green kilowatt-hours (kWh)—16 billion annually—to keep the lights on and the equipment humming. The list of power providers needed to supply all that clean electricity is a long one and there are several familiar names on it.

Large, small partnerships
Apple alone purchases renewable energy from more than 30 providers, including Salt River Project, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Sacramento Municipal Utility District, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Silicon Valley PowerYou are leaving WAPA.gov.  City of Palo Alto Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CPAU) and Omaha Public Power District You are leaving WAPA.gov. (OPPD). Alpine Bank relies on Holy Cross EnergyYou are leaving WAPA.gov. San Miguel Power AssociationYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Yampa Valley Electric AssociationYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Delta-Montrose Electric Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. and La Plata Electric Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. (LPEA) among others to power its 38 branches across Colorado. Fort Collins Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov. is among several providers that supply green power to outdoor equipment retailer REI.

On the other end of the spectrum, Silicon Valley Power meets all the electricity needs of industrial goods manufacturer Roos Instruments. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. is the sole green power provider to Wolf Creek Ski Area.

DIY spreading
As equipment and installation costs drop, many organizations are adding renewable energy systems on their own facilities. Omaha, Nebraska-based Morrissey Engineering supplements its green power purchase from OPPD with on-site generation. The city of Durango, Colorado, has partnered with LPEA on community solar gardens.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory generates 20 percent of its electricity on-site with solar panels. The remaining 80 percent comes from Western and private renewable energy companies.

Other notable achievements
Western customers appeared in the ranking not just as providers but as partners. The University of Utah You are leaving WAPA.gov. came in at number 86 in the overall Top 100 Green Power Partners, and was number 14 in the Top 30 colleges and universities.

Los Angeles World Airports, served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, ranked 23rd among local government green power users. Sustainability pioneer CPAU was number 28 on that list.

Long-term power contracts, for five years or longer, play an important role in growing the renewable energy market. BD, a global medical technology company, signed a 20-year purchase power agreement with Nebraska Public Power District for more than 120,000,000 kWh of wind power.

Western customers go above and beyond to provide their consumers with the products and services they need, including cleaner, greener electricity. We look forward to seeing their names become a growing presence on future Green Power Partnership lists.

Source: EPA Green Power Partnership via Green Power News, 5/2/16

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.

Submit your nominations for Green Power Leadership awards

It is that time of year again, when the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership invites businesses, municipalities, schools and—yes—utilities to crow about their support for clean energy. The nomination period for the Green Power Leadership Awards opened March 1 and continues through April 18!GPLAlogoColor_small

EPA co-sponsors the Green Power Leadership Awards with the Center for Resource Solutions You are leaving Western's site. (CRS) at the annual Renewable Energy Markets Conference. The awards recognize the leading actions of Green Power Partners that significantly advance the development of renewable energy sources. Consumers, businesses and organizations that choose green power instead of conventional electricity support energy technologies that will reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation and increase our energy security.

For leadership in use
The EPA Partner Awards highlight Green Power Partners and Communities for green power purchases or use of on-site renewable energy applications, overall green power strategy and impact on the green power market. The categories include:

  • Excellence in Green Power Use (formerly Green Power Purchasing), recognizing partners who purchase green power from a utility green-pricing program, a competitive green marketer or a renewable energy certificate supplier
  • Green Power Partner of the Year, honoring partners who distinguish themselves through their green power use, leadership, overall strategy and impact on the green power market
  • Sustained Excellence in Green Power, recognizing continual leadership in advancing green power development
  • Direct Project Engagement (formerly On-site Generation), honoring partners for using on-site renewable energy applications
  • Green Power Community of the Year, recognizing EPA Green Power Communities that distinguish themselves through their green power use, leadership, citizen engagement, renewable energy strategy and impact on the green power market

For more information about the EPA awards, contact Roger Fernandez at 202-343-9386.

For leadership in market development
The CSR honors market development efforts in the following categories:

  • Green Power Market Development, recognizing innovators and champions of renewable energy—both individuals and organizations—whose actions are building and growing the voluntary green power markets
  • International Green Power Market Development, recognizing organizations and individuals who are building markets or demonstrating leadership in green power procurement outside North America
  • Leadership in Green Power Education, honoring programs and organizations dedicated to spreading the word about the environmental benefits of green power and boosting public awareness and interest in renewable energy
  • Green Power Leader of the Year, honoring individuals who leverage their influence, power, position or purchasing power to increase the prevalence of renewable energy

For more information about the CRS awards, please contact Lucy Harbor at 415-561-2103.

Nominate now
Green Power Partners, including utilities and municipalities, may nominate their own projects or programs, or another party may nominate them. The EPA honored Western customer Silicon Valley Power in 2015 for increasing locally generated renewables in its Santa Clara Green Power program. Key account representatives can check the Green Power Partner list to see if they have a customer who might be eligible for recognition. There is no limit to the number of applications a party may submit for the awards.

To apply for the EPA Awards and learn about eligibility requirements, visit the EPA’s GPLA Website. For the CRS Green Power Leadership Awards in Market Development, submit online using the 2016 GPLA Nomination Form. You are leaving Western's site. Nominations must be received by 11:59 PM, April 18, to receive consideration.

Good luck, and don’t forget to let Energy Services know if you or your customer wins an award. We are always interested in sharing your success with our readers!

Decades of planning lead to end of coal for Silicon Valley Power

A utility that prides itself on a diverse power supply will soon be removing one particular resource from its portfolio for good. Silicon Valley Power You are leaving Western's site. (SVP), the municipal electric utility serving Santa Clara, California, will become coal-free after Dec. 31, 2017, when it ends electricity imports from the San Juan Generating Station You are leaving Western's site..

SVP_Lodi400

The state-of-the-art Lodi Energy Center replaces coal-fired megawatts with cleaner-burning natural gas and fast ramping capabilities that complement renewable generation. (Photo copyright: www.siemens.com/presse)

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its final approval of the move on Dec. 30, 2015. Cleaner energy from renewable and natural gas resources will replace the power from the New Mexico coal-fired power plant for 53,000 Santa Clara customers. The confluence of many different policies and pressures led to this decision, observed Larry Owens, SVP manager of customer services. “But mostly, it is because our customers want us to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” he said.

Currently, about 36 percent of the utility’s power comes from state-mandated renewable resources, exceeding California’s 33-percent-by-2020 requirement You are leaving Western's site.. With large hydro included, more than 50 percent of the power the utility supplies is carbon-free, even as SVP maintains some of the lowest electricity rates in the state.

Changing times, concerns
The commitment to affordable, reliable electricity made coal power a sensible choice in 1980, when SVP partnered with Modesto Irrigation District You are leaving Western's site. and Redding Electric Utility You are leaving Western's site. to form the M-S-R Public Power Agency You are leaving Western's site.. The joint power authority purchased an interest in the San Juan Generating Station in 1983 to supplement seasonal hydroelectric generation and reduce the need to buy expensive and often cost-volatile short-term power.

Over the years, however, concerns grew about the effect of carbon emissions on the environment, and in 2006, California passed the Global Warming Solutions Act, Assembly Bill (AB) 32. In keeping with its history of environmental responsibility, Santa Clara launched its own strategy to fight climate change, starting with an inventory of all community emissions. Cataloging the city’s sources of emissions gave Santa Clara a good baseline to work with and aligned with the reporting requirements that preceded the carbon cap-and-trade market AB 32 established, starting in 2013, noted Owens.

One thing the inventory revealed was that although coal-fired power provided just 10 percent of SVP’s electricity, it accounted for 50 percent of the utility’s carbon emissions. Cleaning up those emissions and complying with other new environmental regulations covering all emissions promised to increase the costs and liabilities associated with the plant.

SVP, through M-S-R Public Power Agency, began confidential negotiations in 2011 to pull Santa Clara out of the San Juan contract, and started to examine alternatives to coal-powered resources. “Replacing 10 percent of our generation to get rid of 50 percent of our emissions just made good sense,” said Owens.

Many parts to lower emissions puzzle
Making the decision was the only easy part, though. SVP was still a part owner in the plant and was still paying on the bond that financed that purchase. The utility could have sold its interest to another power provider, but that would just be passing the climate-change buck, Owens explained. “When the opportunity came up to affect a true reduction in emissions by working toward the closure of two of the four units, we got behind it immediately,” he said.

Accomplishing that goal involved working with multitude of partners and interests, not only several utilities besides M-S-R, but also coal producers, the local economy, regional, state and federal agencies, environmental groups and other vested interests. “It was a lot of hard work,” Owens recalled. “All of the parties in that complicated effort deserve recognition for honoring everyone’s interest and still attaining the goal.”

Replacing 51 megawatts (MW) of electricity from the San Juan plant has proven to be as much an opportunity for SVP as a challenge. The utility became a major partner in the Lodi Energy Center (LEC), a state-of-the-art natural gas plant, and has received electricity from it since 2012. The combined-cycle LEC incorporates cutting-edge, “fast-start” technology to reach full load in 30 minutes. The ability to quickly ramp up reduces startup emissions and makes the system complementary to intermittent renewable resources.

Small hydropower plants present yet another opportunity for SVP to acquire new renewables. “We have two new facilities on deck ready to produce 32 MW,” Owens said. “Some of the hydropower we have picked up in the past few years was from expiring contracts with PG&E, but we are starting to see more projects that add capacity to existing facilities.”

These new wind turbines at Intel’s Headquarters in Santa Clara add to the 1 MW of onsite solar. Intel Corp is the leading user of renewable energy nation-wide. (Photo by Intel Corp.)

These new wind turbines at Intel’s headquarters in Santa Clara add to the 1 MW of onsite solar. Intel Corp., an SVP customer, is the leading user of renewable energy nation-wide. (Photo by Intel Corp.)

Keeping customers satisfied
Ending its exports of coal-generated electricity in 2018 will reduce the carbon footprint of SVP’s generation by 50 percent, two years ahead of the 2020 deadline in Santa Clara’s Climate Action Plan. That won’t be the end of the utility’s efforts to maintain a sustainable and affordable power supply.

Part of the motivation is staying ahead of state and federal environmental and renewable mandates, but most of it comes from the customer. “For one thing, our service territory includes some of the world’s high-tech giants,” Owens said. “Many of those large commercial customers have advanced their own sustainability initiatives and they expect their utility to keep up.”

For Silicon Valley Power, it all comes down to meeting and exceeding its customers’ expectations. “I can’t overstate how big a part our customers’ interests played in driving toward a coal-free portfolio,” Owens stated.

Silicon Valley Power responds to electric utility worker shortage with local scholarship awards

Deadline: Nov. 3, 2015

The utility industry is plagued by an aging workforce and by the challenge of finding employees qualified to replace those headed for retirement. In an effort to build its local pool of skilled electrical workers, Silicon Valley Power You are leaving Western's site. (SVP) in Santa Clara, California, is investing in the engineers and technicians of tomorrow.

Kara Johnson, 2009 Silicon Valley Power Scholarship recipient and Santa Clara High School graduate, works on a prototype circuit for a sensor used in her alternative biofuel research. Johnson is a Ph.D. candidate at U.C. San Diego after earning degrees in genetics and biological systems at U.C. Davis. (Photo by Silicon Valley Power)

Kara Johnson, 2009 Silicon Valley Power Scholarship recipient and Santa Clara High School graduate, works on a prototype circuit for a sensor used in her alternative biofuel research. Johnson is a Ph.D. candidate at U.C. San Diego after earning degrees in genetics and biological systems at U.C. Davis. (Photo by Silicon Valley Power)

College and technical school students living in Santa Clara and pursuing careers related to the electric utility industry may be eligible to receive scholarships or tuition grants from the city and SVP. The city is offering $5,000 scholarships to new and continuing college students and $2,000 to trade school trainees who will be enrolled by October 2016 for the 2016-17 school year. Students must apply by Nov. 3, 2015.

Career opportunities and salaries are on the rise for engineers, technicians and power line workers in the industry. SVP, Santa Clara’s municipal electric utility, wants to encourage students to explore those options. “Like SVP, utilities all over the country are looking for qualified workers to be part of the exciting new world of the smart grid,” said John Roukema, Director of SVP. “Satisfying and lucrative career opportunities abound for students completing courses that prepare them for work in the many fields of the electric utility industry.”

The program has awarded 30 college scholarships and six technical school grants totaling $162,000 since it started in 2006.

Applicants studying energy services, electric utilities, or fields associated with the power industry in general may download the application, or call 408-261-5036 for more information. Santa Clara residents have until Nov. 3, 2015 to submit applications for the SVP Scholarship Awards program.

Western salutes our customer Silicon Valley Power for taking a proactive approach to workforce development.

Source: Silicon Valley Power, 10/9/15

Diverse power portfolio keeps Silicon Valley Power’s electricity rates low

As many California utilities scramble to replace hydropower megawatts drying up in the ongoing drought—and raise their rates sharply to pay for that electricity—Silicon Valley Power’s You are leaving Western's site. (SVP) more moderate increases keep their rates among the lowest in the state, thanks to a diverse portfolio.

“For utilities with more than 5,000 customers, Silicon Valley Power’s average system rate is the lowest in California [EIA – form 861, 2013 data],” stated Larry Owens, SVP customer services manager.

Generation resources located across a broad geographical area help to create a stable platform for SVP rates. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

Generation resources located across a broad geographical area help to create a stable platform for SVP rates. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

SVP’s decades-long investment in a diverse mix of resources saved its customers more than $100 million last year, compared to the rates paid in neighboring communities. The city of Santa Clara municipal electric utility credits the “whole portfolio” approach with its ability to maintain a rate advantage over surrounding communities during historic drought.

For 2014, more than 36 percent of SVP’s electricity came from renewable resources including geothermal, solar, landfill gas, wind and eligible hydropower. Natural gas and large hydropower from Western make up the bulk of the conventional generation, rounded out with a small amount of coal and other resources.

Diversify three ways
Fuel sources are not the only thing about SVP’s portfolio that is diverse, but it is primary to their approach. Power comes from wind turbines in the state of Washington, geothermal and small hydro from all over northern California and a utility-scale solar plant in Kern County, California.  In-town resources include a 147-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle plant, a 7-MW co-generation plant, 750 kilowatts (kW) of landfill gas power and 500 kW of solar.

Wind power from Washington state helps to balance SVP's resource mix. (Photo by Silicon Valley Power)

Wind power from Washington state helps to balance SVP’s resource mix. (Photo by Silicon Valley Power)

Geographic diversity—when power resources are spread over a wide territory—helps reduce single-point-of-failure risk from extreme weather, transmission congestion and even earthquakes.

Ownership is the third aspect of the “triple diversity” strategy SVP uses to balance its portfolio. Most of the electricity is purchased through power purchase agreements and joint power agency contracts, but SVP owns or co-owns a natural gas power plant, some hydropower facilities and photovoltaic arrays. In addition to the SVP-owned local arrays at Jenny Strand Research Park You are leaving Western's site. and the Tasman Parking Structure at Levi’s Stadium, business and residential customers contributed 11.4 MW of installed capacity in 2014. “By not relying too much on one particular provider or one type of contract, SVP has created a very stable platform to keep rates affordable,” explained Owens.

Playing long game
That was the scenario that originally motivated SVP to pursue diversification in the 1980s when it was still a full-service taker from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). “The first energy embargo was a wake-up call for our city leaders. They realized that moving away from a profit-motivated, sole source provider and seeking freedom from volatile fuel prices was key to providing affordable, reliable electricity to its customers,” Owens said.  “Renewable energy in particular could help SVP achieve its environmental goals.”

Silicon Valley Power began to acquire renewable resources in the 1980s with the purchase of hydropower from Western and wind power. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

Silicon Valley Power began to acquire renewable resources in the 1980s with the purchase of hydropower from Western and wind power. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

Hydropower from Western and wind from the Altamont Pass wind turbines were the first carbon-free resources into SVP’s (power) pool in 1985, followed by geothermal power from the North Bay Area in 1988. “Geothermal is a great fit for our needs,” said Owens said. “It is such a reliable base-load resource for our customers.”

The solar power portion of SVP’s portfolio has been growing rapidly in the last few years, thanks to dropping equipment prices, the utility’s generous support for customer systems and California’s renewable portfolio standard. The state must get 33 percent of its retail electricity sales from renewables by 2020.

SVP has already met the state’s 33-percent goal, but the utility will continue to evaluate new renewable resources to meet its continued growth in retail sales and to address the expectation of even higher renewable requirements. Currently, SVP has more capacity than load, “So we can shop around for the options that best meet our ‘triple diversity’ criteria,” observed Owens. “Even though we are in a severe drought now, equipping existing small hydro dams with high-efficiency turbines is an approach that still has some potential opportunities,” he added. “With a surplus of both capacity and renewable energy, SVP has many opportunities to sell into the renewable and non-renewable markets available in California.”

Recognizing opportunity and knowing when to seize it has given Silicon Valley Power a drought-resistant portfolio, brag-worthy rates and a solid foundation for meeting future challenges. Because keeping rates low, complying with regulation and protecting the community’s resources for the next generation is simply too big a job for one resource alone.

Source: The Outlet, June 2015

Presentations Now Online from 33rd Utility Energy Forum

We enjoyed meeting all the customers who attended the Utility Energy Forum Redirecting to a non-government site last week—your participation made the event entertaining as well as educational. Special thanks go out to sponsors Sacramento Municipal Utility District Redirecting to a non-government site, City of Palo Alto Utilities Redirecting to a non-government site, Imperial Irrigation District Redirecting to a non-government site, Riverside Public Utilities Redirecting to a non-government site, Roseville Electric Redirecting to a non-government site and Silicon Valley Power Redirecting to a non-government site for their hard work putting together a program that addressed regional utilities’ most pressing concerns.

Now you can revisit the presentations to pick up some tips for your own programs, or find out what you missed if you were unable to join us.  You can also learn more about the UEF sponsors and exhibitors.

Attendees who didn’t fill out the paper survey at the forum can still complete an online survey Redirecting to a non-government site. Your two cents worth helps the planning committee make the UEF better each year.

Circle May 14-16, 2014, on your calendar so you don’t miss next year’s Utility Energy Forum. Western customers in the Rocky Mountain Region, will want to save Oct. 8-10, 2013, for the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange Redirecting to a non-government site.

And if you don’t have an event in your region that brings together utility colleagues to share challenges and solutions, contact your Energy Services representative and get one started!  In the meantime, consider joining Linkedin Group Discussions Redirecting to a non-government site.

SEPA report finds 100% increase in utility integrated solar power

According to the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) 2010 Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings report, the top ranked utilities integrated 561 MW of solar electricity in 2010, showing 100 percent growth over one year. 

Utilities were scored in two areas: Solar megawatts installed in 2010 and solar watts per customer. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association was the only Western customer to appear in the first category, acquiring 30.2 MW of new solar power last year. In the second category, Western customer Silicon Valley Power in California ranked first nationally with nearly 40 watts-per-customer. The City of Banning, also in California, moved into the Top 10 by providing more than 27 watts of solar generation per customer. 

The report indicated that market growth is increasingly occurring in areas outside of the solar resource-rich regions of California and the Southwest. Another emerging trend the report identified is the move toward more utility-owned solar projects and third-party power purchase agreements, like Tri-State’s purchase from the Cimarron Solar Facility in New Mexico.

While 30 utilities reported owning 140 MW of solar—a 300 percent increase in utility ownership over 2009—utility solar portfolios differed widely in solar project technologies and procurement strategies. Factors such as state policies, utility preference, solar resources, electricity prices and available incentives influence the make-up of the top 10 power providers’ solar holdings. In California, for example, interconnected customer systems continue to supply a significant amount of solar power for municipal utilities like Silicon Valley and City of Banning.

SEPA is holding a webinar June 23 to discuss the report and talk about how utilities are integrating solar power into their energy portfolios, how the solar market has changed and new market trends. The one-hour event will take place 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern. The cost is free to SEPA members and the media. Register online.

Western customers show up in DOE Top 10 Utility Green Power Programs

Public power utilities, including several Western customers, scored well in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Top 10” rankings of utility green power programs for 2010.

Ranked by renewable energy sales, Sacramento Municipal Utility District sold the fourth largest amount of renewable energy (kWh/year) in the nation (including investor-owned utilities). SMUD was the only public power utility to crack the top 10 in total number of customer participants in green power programs, ranking fourth in that category as well.

Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed rankings of utility green power programs for 2010 in a variety of categories. Other Western customers appearing in the Top 10 included:

NREL recently added the category of community solar programs to its ratings, giving Western customers another chance to shine. Holy Cross Energy, SMUD, St. George, Utah, and United Power placed sixth through eighth. Community solar programs allow customers to purchase a share of a solar system developed in their community and receive the benefits of the energy that is produced by their share.

The Green Power assessment was performed by NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC), which integrates technical and economic analyses and leads NREL’s efforts in applying clean energy technologies to both national and international markets.