Energy Services evolves to meet your needs

WAPA has always been committed to helping customers deal with both the routine and unexpected challenges of powering the West and keeping that assistance relevant has required constant evolution over the past 40 years.

Assessing value
Lately, WAPA has been looking at the programs and initiatives it offers to determine which bring the most value to customers and which have served their purpose. A cross-functional Assessment Team was formed in 2017 to evaluate various programs and efforts for potential efficiencies, with the goal of improving business processes and allocating resources appropriately for current and future priorities.

WAPA’s Energy Services and its Equipment Loan Program were among those chosen for in-depth evaluation. The Assessment Team reviewed investments and activities in the programs to examine the results, the cost effectiveness and whether or not they were meeting the needs of the organization. WAPA senior leaders and other stakeholders were surveyed to determine the effectiveness of these efforts in fulfilling WAPA’s mission and meeting customers’ needs.

After completing the evaluations, the team recommended that the Equipment Loan Program had served its purpose of making expensive diagnostic tools available to WAPA customers to test at their utilities. The decision to phase out the program saves WAPA about $177,000 annually.

Evolving with times
The Energy Services program will continue with some changes that will allow WAPA to reimagine the type of technical assistance that addresses the rapidly shifting business environment customers must face.

A decade ago, the Energy Services website and publications provided a one-stop clearinghouse for energy planners and managers at WAPA utilities. Today, it competes with thousands of other high-quality information sources online. The assessment team determined that integrating Energy Services communications into WAPA’s Public Affairs Office would present a more cohesive message about the mission and value of the organization.

The Energy Services Bulletin sunsets on Nov. 1. The blog will remain active as an archive, so customers can reference past stories and reach contacts for more information about policies and programs. Past issues will remain on the Energy Services website as well. Subscribers will be able to transfer their subscription to Customer Circuit. Along with features about WAPA customers, this publication is filled with news about the organization that touches every part of utility operations: transmission, markets, budget, finance, environment, legislation and more.

Customers will continue to receive support from WAPA for their resource planning activities as they have for more than 20 years. Regional Energy Services representatives will still be available to answer questions about integrated resource planning or to suggest tools and programs that can help utilities reach their load management goals.

At WAPA, customers are partners. Programs like Energy Services give us the opportunity to learn more about their operations so we can continue to build that relationship and increase our value to you. We will continue to seek customer input on the direction of the Energy Services program and on what services you value most. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.

Office of Indian Energy announces agenda for annual program review

The agenda is now available for the Department of Energy’s 2018 Office of Indian Energy Program Review. The annual event will be held at the Sheraton Denver West Hotel in Lakewood, Colorado, Dec. 10-14.

(Photo courtesy of DOE Office of Indian Energy)

The Program Review offers a tremendous opportunity for Indian tribes to meet, learn from other tribes that are pursuing energy self-sufficiency and share in each other’s successes.

Attendees will get project status updates from tribes across the nation who are leveraging Office of Indian Energy grant funding to deploy energy technologies or initiate the first steps to energy development.

There is no cost to register for the Program Review; however, advance registrationYou are leaving WAPA.gov. is requested to ensure sufficient appropriate seating and food availability. Onsite registration starts at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 1, and continues at 8:00 a.m. each following morning.

Check out the overview and detailed agendas to learn more.

A block of rooms is available at the Sheraton Denver West Hotel. To book your room at the group rate, please visit the Sheraton Denver West Hotel website.You are leaving WAPA.gov. Note that the discounted group rate is only available until Nov. 12, 2018.

Source: DOE Office of Indian Energy, 10/24/18

RMUE presentations now available online

Networking and learning was at its best last week in Aspen with over 165 people attending the Rocky Mountain Utility Exchange You are leaving WAPA.gov.  Sept. 19-21.

More than 30 presentations and posters were presented that explored utility case study best practices and lessons learned from hands-on practitioners who develop, implement, and evaluate utility customer programs. Keynote presenters focused on how utilities can push themselves to the next level with technology, customer engagement, and setting high goals for performance and the future design of Utility Program Portfolios.

If you were unable to attend, you can download presentations related to energy and water efficiency, financing, renewable energy, storage and electric vehicles and key account customer management. Login is required, but access is free, so please forward this message to anyone who didn’t attend but who you know would benefit from the information presented.

Rocky Mountain Utility Exchange facilitates a networking and professional development conference for staff representatives of energy and water utilities serving Colorado and neighboring states. This event attracts about 150 utility and government staff who are responsible for the design and delivery of customer-centric utility programs, including resource efficiency, load management/growth, distributed energy and customer/member service operations.  Trade allies that provide products and services to support utility programs also contribute their expertise to an agenda that focuses on utility best practices, case studies and lessons learned.

Source: Utility Exchange, 9/27/18

Opportunities coming to share your big ideas

The Association of Energy Services Professionals You are leaving WAPA.gov.has two deadlines coming up for utility idea people:

Oct. 1: Submit your presentation for the Pitch a Pilot session at AESP’s 2019 Annual Conference in San Antonio in January. This unique session provides 10-minute time slots for talking about really interesting approaches, ideas, concepts or programs that would benefit utilities. Presenters will be talking to a utilities-only audience about innovative ways to deal with the challenges of demand response and energy efficiency. Your idea may be the next big program success!

Oct. 8: Entries close for the AESP 2019 Energy Awards. Recognize a new program, technology or initiative that’s making an impact in the energy-efficiency world. These awards also recognize people—whether an experienced industry leader or a new professional–who have contributed to the industry. The 12 award categories include commercial and residential, programs, evaluation, marketing, technology and for individuals.

Also, AESP members  need to get their ballots in for the board of director election by Oct. 15.

Do not miss your chance to float new ideas, honor great ones or shape the conversation about your industry.

Source: Association of Energy Services Professionals, 9/26/18

ACEEE report: Energy efficiency helps rural ratepayers

It is no secret that rural communities continue to struggle, even in the strong economy, or that they frequently get overlooked when assistance programs are being planned.

According to a recent report You are leaving WAPA.gov. by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, rural residents spend an average of 4.4 percent of their income on energy bills—energy burden—compared to the 3.3 percent national average. Low-income households, including the elderly, renters and residents of manufactured and multifamily housing, have an energy burden nearly three times that of higher income households.

The High Cost of Energy in Rural America: Household Energy Burdens and Opportunities for Energy Efficiency focuses on energy costs related to the physical housing structure.

The report concludes with program options to address energy affordability, and details challenges and opportunities related to serving rural households with energy efficiency.

Life-changing programs
Factors that contribute to energy burden include the physical condition of a home, a household’s ability to invest in energy-efficiency improvements and the availability of efficiency programs and incentives that put energy-saving technologies within reach. Energy-efficiency and home weatherization programs can greatly reduce this burden and make energy bills affordable. Rural utilities can help by offering these types of programs and partnering with local and regional organizations to increase their reach.

Aiken Electric Cooperative’s Help My House on-bill program, highlighted in the ACEEE video “Rural Energy Burden,” You are leaving WAPA.gov. demonstrates how utility programs can make a difference in low-income customers’ lives. Participants have been able to slash their electricity bills nearly in half by getting their homes weatherized through Aiken’s program. That is money homeowners can now use to pay for day-to-day necessities.

Learn more
A second report will be released by ACEEE this fall exploring lessons learned from rural program leaders across the country. In October, ACEEE is holding its first Rural Energy Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, to examine how energy-efficiency technologies and programs can help rural America revitalize its economy. Industry, utility, cooperative, nonprofit, academia and government representatives will be discussing how to improve and expand efficiency programs that serve rural communities.

You can download this and other reports from ACEEE’s website for free.

Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 8/23/18

RMI publishes report on consumer-centered home energy services

According to the Rocky Mountain InstituteYou are leaving WAPA.gov. a large gap exists between consumers’ interest in home performance and their actual investments in home efficiency improvements. Utilities have a tremendous opportunity to develop a new line of services, and RMI’s recent report, The Consumer Connection: A Consumer-Centric Approach to Delivering Home Energy Services, tells power providers how to unlock this market.

RMI researchers found a clear path that consumers follow from being interested in technology to purchasing it for their home. The report helps contractors, utilities and energy auditors understand the pathway and recognize how and when to engage customers, and who is the best messenger for the information. The report also explores the financing options that are most likely to spur residential customers to adopt energy efficiency upgrades.

The basis of the report is a survey RMI’s Residential Energy+ team conducted with 1,210 homeowners from all 50 U.S. states. In addition to learning what types of messengers, financing and timing make most sense to consumers, the team also uncovered other important findings around financing, what customers are willing to pay and what the main motivations are for energy upgrades.

Utility program managers will recognize the triggers that drive home energy upgrades—a new home purchase, a renovation done to sell a home or broken equipment—but the key takeaway is that consumers buy a product when they want it, not when the provider wants to sell it. The study also emphasizes that consumers do not necessarily want to speak to every stakeholder at each step of the process.

Learning which stakeholder is best suited to convey information can be an important marketing tool for service providers. Stakeholders should focus on what they do best and build partnerships with other stakeholders to fill in the gaps and provide consumers with a seamless selection and installation process.

In today’s utility landscape, power providers need a variety of strategies to maintain strong customer relationships and build an environment of trust and collaboration. A customer-centric program that increases homeowners’ investment in energy-efficiency improvements could contribute much to that goal, while supporting utilities’ load management plans.

Download The Consumer Connection for free from the RMI website.

Source: Rocky Mountain Institute Spark, 8/22/18

Utility Energy Forum calls for posters

Deadline: Sept. 21

Do you have a program success story you would like to share? Did your innovative spirit take flight, producing results others should know about? Please help us make the 2019 Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. a success by presenting your program during the Utility Program Stand Up Challenge!

“Utility Recipes for Meeting Customer Needs” is the theme for this year’s UEF. It is being held April 24-26 at the Cambria Pines Lodge in Cambria, California.

The StandUp Challenge is a fast-paced poster session that gives speakers the opportunity to present their poster to attendees three or four times over a 45-minute window. To have your poster considered for the StandUp Challenge, submit your proposal You are leaving WAPA.gov. no later than Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Posters are most likely to be chosen if they focus on program results and lessons learned, are vendor agnostic, and have a utility or government author or co-author and presenter.

Other deadlines are approaching as well. Register before Nov. 30, 2018, to receive your Early Bird Discount, and make sure you submit your application for the Jim Brands Memorial Scholarship by Jan. 11, 2019.

APPA presents strategic planning webinar series

July 26, Aug. 16, Sept. 6
Noon-1:30 p.m. MT

If you don’t know where you are going, chances are you will wind up someplace else. As a public power utility, your goal is to provide reliable, affordable electricity, so you—and your customers—cannot afford to miss that destination. A new three-part webinar series from the American Public Power Association will show you how to draw an effective roadmap to your future.

Strategic Planning You are leaving WAPA.gov. invites chief executive officers, general managers, senior executives, board and council members, and others involved in strategic planning to deep dive into the background and implementation of this valuable process. The series reviews strategic planning options for public power utilities of different sizes and with a variety of governing structures. Strategic planning for state associations and joint action agencies will also be covered.

Planning in three steps
Participants will learn how to engage policymakers and staff, set realistic timetables and budgets, select the right process for your utility and when and how to hire consultants. The series also includes material on managing financial operations as part of long-term performance planning.

July 26Prepare for Change: Blueprinting Your Strategic Plan
Begin by taking a hard look at where your utility stands in the ever-evolving industry landscape and discover how to take control of your future. New technologies, new power sources, new competitors and changing customer expectations will change the way you do business. Expert speakers will help you determine if your organization is prepared to plan for change. You will leave the webinar with the tools to create a realistic blueprint to adapt to market and policy changes, as well as new customer needs and preferences.

Aug. 16—Finances and Performance: Building Your Strategic Plan
Monitoring your organization’s financial health is not the job of only your chief financial officer (if you have one). Your leadership and governance team need to participate in financial planning and oversight as well. Decisions about budgets, rates, power supply, services and system maintenance affect your strategic plan and performance. This webinar presents the big picture on the financial aspect of performance planning.

Sept. 6—Down to Brass Tacks: Implementing Your Strategic Plan
Finalizing your strategic plan is the beginning, not the end of your journey, as the next step—implementation—is where the rubber meets the road. This webinar gets into the details of staying the course and avoiding the common pitfalls in acting on your plan. Learn how to keep all stakeholders aware of the plan’s progress and engage productively with outside consultants or facilitators if needed.

Registration for the full webinar series is $550 or $250 for APPA members. Individual webinars are $199 or $99 for APPA members. Links to all handouts and an audio recording will be sent out shortly after the webinar, in case you are unable to attend.

Continue your education
To earn a completion certificate, you must register for a webinar and your participation must be confirmed by the webinar report log. The completion certificate is only available to the person who registered for the webinar.

APPA is presenting this series in cooperation with Hometown ConnectionsYou are leaving WAPA.gov. a nonprofit utility service organization formed by five public power joint action agencies. Hometown Connections offers products and services to public power utilities, including consulting support for organization assessment, strategic planning and governance development, customer service, market research, and staffing.

Source: Public Power Daily, 7/11/18

Office of Indian Energy internship program builds technical expertise

Students learn about different types of solar panels and arrays during the July 2016 Ute Mountain Ute Youth Energy Day in Colorado, hosted by the DOE Office of Indian Energy as part of its efforts to promote STEM education in tribal communities. The event is one of many education and training opportunities the Office of Indian Energy offers to tribes.
Students learn about different types of solar panels and arrays during the July 2016 Ute Mountain Ute Youth Energy Day in Colorado, hosted by the DOE Office of Indian Energy as part of its efforts to promote STEM education in tribal communities. The event is one of many education and training opportunities the Office of Indian Energy offers to tribes. (Photo by DOE Office of Indian Energy)

An educated and technically skilled workforce is paramount to the development of tribal energy resources and the protection of tribal lands. The Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy’s college student summer internship program has cultivated that workforce for more than 16 years.

Current full-time undergraduates and graduate students who are familiar with Native American culture and tribal issues apply to support Office of Indian Energy-funded projects in the field and at DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories. During the 12-week internship, interns work with cross-disciplinary teams to receive hands-on experience and gain valuable knowledge about numerous energy technologies. This helps to build awareness in the tribal community around important energy issues and research while bringing technically skilled Native Americans into the workforce.

Half of the interns who have completed their degrees work in tribal positions, including one who is the renewable energy engineer for WAPA customer, the Navajo Tribal Utility AuthorityYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Another 33 percent hold jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields outside their tribes.

Graduates spread awareness
Recently, Chelsea Chee, a former intern and member of the Navajo Nation, received the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Rising Star award for leadership across several major projects in New Mexico. The award recognizes individuals at the beginning of their career who have demonstrated exemplary leadership traits promoting access, equity and diversity in education and the workforce.

One of the accomplishments that earned the honor for Chee began with an idea she had as an intern in the class of 2011-2013. She created the Natives In STEM You are leaving WAPA.gov. program through her current position as the diversity and inclusion coordinator for New Mexico’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. “It wouldn’t have been possible if [my mentors and supervisors] hadn’t supported my work and my ideas, some of which were different,” Chee said. “But they trusted me and supported me and helped me turn those ideas into fruition.”

Chee’s initiative brings visibility to Native American STEM professionals, inspiring students of all backgrounds to pursue STEM careers. Now co-led with American Indian Science and Engineering Society You are leaving WAPA.gov., the project has distributed more than 4,500 posters that feature five Native STEM professionals, including to 137 Bureau of Indian Education schools, 14 tribal colleges and universities, and tribal libraries across the country. Chee is also active in the larger equity community at the state and national levels.

Inclusion matters
The importance of internships and programs like Natives in STEM for increasing diversity in technical fields cannot be understated. According to the National Science Foundation, American Indians or Alaska Natives hold just 0.2 percent of science and engineering occupations, and represent only 0.3 percent of highest degree-holders in S&E fields.

Especially to young people, it can make a world of difference to know that others from their community have followed a path that may seem beyond reach. Chee recalled that one of the reasons she applied to the internship program was Sandra Begay, the internship coordinator and principal member of the Sandia Lab technical staff. Begay was the first Navajo woman Chee met who was connected to STEM and became an instant mentor to the intern.

Since completing her internship five years ago, Chee has become a voice for tribal inclusion in STEM settings and has taken part in equity conversations at state and local levels throughout New Mexico. She pointed out that people from rural areas—tribal and otherwise—often cannot get to Albuquerque to take part in STEM-related conversations. “It is important to have that input,” she said.

Chee continues to make inclusion her mission, adding that the Indian Energy program and internship were instrumental for her. “It was one of the best, if not the best, internship programs I’ve ever been a part of,” she stated.

Participate in Indian Energy programs
The 2018 internship program placed interns on projects such as on- and off-grid photovoltaic installations and a distributed energy resource system comprising large PV array, micro-turbine, fuel cell and large battery bank. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have a grade point average of 3.0 for undergraduates and 4.0 for graduate students. Learn more about the application process and past interns on the Office of Indian Energy website.

In addition to the internship program, the Office of Indian Energy provides education and training opportunities, including regional workshops, webinars, Tribal Leader Forums, a comprehensive online training curriculum and an energy resource library. WAPA cosponsors the Tribal Energy Webinar series to help the diverse tribal communities evaluate and prioritize their energy options.

Source: DOE Office of Indian Energy blog, 5/29/18