EERE Network News gets facelift, new delivery date

One of your best resources for the latest developments in clean energy and wise energy use (besides the Energy Services Bulletin, of course) is about to make some changes. Starting Nov. 10, the EERE Network News will become the EERE Weekly Digest of Clean Energy News and arrive in your inbox each Thursday.

There’s more: The new weekly newsletter will spotlight some of the fresher content offered by EERE, including videos and blogs. Browse the video gallery for short features on topics ranging from efficiency programs to technology to competition to financing. The EERE blog covers current Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy projects, interviews with energy experts and success stories about EERE’s technology offices and national laboratories.

If you don’t already subscribe to the EERE newsletter, You are leaving there is no time like the present to change that. Just a sample of what you missed in this week’s issue includes stories on the 40th anniversary of the DOE National Weatherization Program and Zillow’s partnership with the Sunshot Initiative.

You can also subscribe to newsletters that focus on specific technology programs. Key accounts managers may be interested in advanced manufacturing or building technology updates. The FEMP Digest offers valuable news for facilities managers, federal and otherwise. For resource planners, publications on wind, solar, geothermal, bioenergy and fuel cells highlight activities, projects, events and education and funding opportunities.

The changes in the electric utility industry are coming hard and fast and can sometimes seem overwhelming. The EERE newsletters make it a little easier for busy professionals to keep up with—and maybe even get ahead of—the next big issues.

Source: EERE Network News, 11/2/16

Equipment Loan tools educate, inspire next generation

The Science, Engineering, Arts and Math Expo drew hundreds of attendees to Alexandria Area High School this spring. (Photo by ALP Utilities)

The Science, Engineering, Arts and Math Expo drew hundreds of attendees to Alexandria Area High School this spring. (Photo by ALP Utilities)

Educational kits available from Western’s Equipment Loan Program do not diagnose equipment failures or energy losses, yet they are among our most popular loan items.

Following in the footsteps of Gunnison County Electric Association and Southeast Electric Cooperative, ALP Utilities You are leaving in Alexandria, Minnesota, recently borrowed a demonstration kit to teach their future customers about the science behind electricity.

Show and tell
Western’s fuel cell kit and infrared camera made an appearance at the first STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) Expo hosted by Alexandria Area High School March 26. ALP and its power wholesaler Missouri River Energy Services You are leaving (MRES) helped sponsor the event with School District 206 and other community partners. The event featured hands-on demonstrations and learning exhibits by the sponsoring partners, as well as students’ projects in STEAM subjects.


Students Nolan Christenson (left) and Nathan Eck explain how a fuel cell makes electricity to a visitor to the ALP Utilities booth at the STEAM Expo. ALP borrowed the fuel cell kit and an infrared camera from Western’s Equipment Loan Program. (Photo by ALP Utilities)

At the ALP exhibit, visitors could learn where power comes from and how it gets to their homes. Two students from the school’s science academy helped at the ALP booth and showed visitors how the fuel cell produced electricity. “They were so excited to learn about the equipment,” said ALP Energy Services Representative Vicki Gesell, who coordinated ALP’s participation.  “I was really impressed with their ability to explain how fuel cells work and answer visitors’ questions.”

A working solar panel from MRES was also on display, as well as linemen gear and a length of underground cable, with a ratchet cutter so students could cut off a souvenir.

A lighting display featuring light-emitting diode, or LED, lighting showed how smart electrical energy choices save electricity, money and limited resources. Students surveyed their surroundings through the infrared camera and learned how to find heat loss and detect potential equipment failures. Gesell noted that kids loved seeing infrared images of themselves, confirming that the powerful diagnostic tool can also be a secret weapon for public outreach.

Hundreds of students and parents attended the expo, making it a great place to meet and chat with customers. “An event like this gives us the chance to be a part of the community, to talk to our customers in person about their needs and to remind them about the programs ALP offers,” Gesell observed.

Lots to discover
ALP offers residential customers plenty of ways to control and reduce their energy use. Customers can receive rebates on eight different Energy Star appliances and all-electric water heaters with 92-percent or greater efficiency factor. After installing a qualified water heater, ALP adds a load controller free of charge to cycle the unit for short durations during peak load times. The utility also has an off-peak heating program.

Through the MRES Bright Energy Solutions (BES) program You are leaving, ALP provides rebates on high-efficiency electric furnaces, heat pumps, air conditioners and lighting. “Now that LED products are coming down in price, customers are interested in making the switch to these longer lasting bulbs,” noted Gesell.

BES has an extensive list of rebates for commercial customers, too. Incentives are available for heating and cooling systems, manufacturing equipment, commercial food handling appliances, efficient lighting for new and existing buildings and custom measures. Another service  BES offers is a New Construction Design Review to help customers build efficiency into their new facilities and get incentives to help pay for the measures.

Building efficient future
The site of the STEAM Expo illustrates the benefits of planning for energy efficiency with the help of your power provider. Completed in 2014, Alexandria Area High School is expected to save more than $76,000 in energy costs each year.

Last December, ALP and MRES presented school officials with a check for $121,849 through Bright Energy Solutions. The rebate covered insulation in the school’s roof and walls, windows and sunshades, efficient heating and cooling system and lighting. Also, the school district purchased several ENERGY STAR appliances for the cafeteria, culinary arts and concession areas.

Nolan Christenson studies up on fuel cell operation. As a student in Alexandria High School's science academy, he is preparing for a future that may include working for ALP Utilities, or Western Area Power Administration (Photo by ALP Utilities)

Nolan Christenson studies up on fuel cell operation. A student in Alexandria High School’s science academy, Nolan’s future may include working for ALP Utilities, or Western Area Power Administration. (Photo by ALP Utilities)

Like participating in the STEAM Expo, offering incentives to improve energy efficiency in schools is more than just good customer relations—it is an investment in the future. Money the district saves on energy costs can be used to educate students in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. More students studying those disciplines today mean a better-prepared workforce tomorrow. ALP Utilities may one day hire some of those students to provide the community with reliable electricity and help more businesses manage their energy use.

If not quite the “Circle of Life,” you could call it a Circle of Sustainability, and Western is pleased to loan our customers educational displays to keep it going.

Riverside honored as ‘Top Intelligent Community’ for 2012

Western congratulates municipal customer Riverside, Calif.Redirecting to a non-government site for being named “Intelligent Community of the Year” for 2012 by the Intelligent Community Forum Redirecting to a non-government site (ICF).

One of the programs called out by ICF was the 2004 launch of a high tech taskforce to identify ways to channel California’s high-tech growth into the community. The high tech taskforce produced a comprehensive report on ways for the city to augment technology and spur innovation in the area. Additionally, Riverside’s Technology CEO Forum and SmartRiverside Redirecting to a non-government site were recognized. Other highlighted accomplishments included the establishment of the University Research Park, the free WIFI network which offers up to 1 Mbps service through 1,600 access points, e-government applications such as traffic management, graffiti tracking and removal, and Riverside’s the Digital Inclusion program.

ICF, based in New York, N.Y., is dedicated to the growth of broadband technology in communities worldwide. Each year, seven communities are recognized for achieving key markers of success in the 21st century, including: high technology, workforce development, digital inclusion, arts, innovation, collaboration and social capital.

The other six communities named to this year’s Top Seven Intelligent Communities are:

  • Austin, Texas (another public power city)
  • Oulu, Finland
  • Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Stratford, Ontario, Canada
  • Taichung City, Taiwan

Competition promotes STEM learning in schools

Public power providers often team up with local schools to encourage science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM) talent in their communities. Now, a competition is offering utilities and schools the opportunity to share their experiences—and win prizes and recognition for their innovative programs.

Ashoka’s Changemakers is partnering with Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Opportunity Equation to unleash the talent of professionals in STEM-related fields to engage students, particularly our highest-need students, in rich STEM learning. Partnering for Excellence: Innovations in Science + Technology + Engineering + Math Education, an online collaborative competition, will spur creative ways for companies, universities and other organizations with expertise in the STEM fields to partner with the public schools that need their talent. Sponsors include the Jhumki Basu Foundation, Alcoa Foundation, Amgen Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation, Google, The Mind Trust, AFT Innovation Fund and Noyce Foundation.

The competition is looking for program models that find new ways to bring STEM resources from the private and not-for-profit sectors into the classroom, promote mentorship and introduce students to opportunities in STEM industries. Winners are eligible for more than $150,000 in cash and in-kind prizes that could be used to expand an existing program or kick-start an initiative that has been sitting on the “drawing board.”  Submit your innovative solutions by 5PM EDT on August 3, 2011.

And don’t forget to tell Energy Services about your program while you are at it. We don’t offer prizes, but we would love to feature your program in the Energy Services Bulletin.

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.