APPA offers energy efficiency management certificate workshop

Early-bird discount ends April 13.

May 4-8 Antlers Hilton
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Celebrate the season of fresh starts with a new professional credential from the American Public Power Association (APPA). In conjunction with its Spring Education InstituteYou are leaving APPA is offering a comprehensive Energy Efficiency Management Certificate Program for utility professionals interested in starting or enhancing energy- efficiency programs.

Join your colleagues at the Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 4-8, to learn what it takes to build a successful energy-efficiency program. The Energy Efficiency Management Certificate Program gives participants a firm grounding in all aspects of energy-efficiency program development, implementation, budgeting, marketing and management.

To earn this certificate, participants have two years to complete six required courses, pass an online exam and submit an energy-efficiency program business plan. All six courses are being offered during the Spring Education Institute.

An early-bird discount on registration is available before April 13. You do not have to be a member of APPA to enroll in the program. For more information, contact Meghan Riley, APPA’s Education Specialist, at 202-467-2919.

Source: American Public Power Association, 4/6/15

Shelton Group releases Energy Pulse 2014

We have been hearing it for years now: The utility industry is changing in a fundamental way. Yet many power providers are still waiting to see how the new energy landscape shapes up before deciding how to react.  Energy Pulse 2014: Navigating a Rapidly Changing Residential Energy Environment You are leaving makes a strong case for seizing the moment.

According to report author The Shelton Group, dozens of companies are now competing for control of the American home energy market in a sandbox where only utilities used to play. Moreover, these upstarts have the consumers’ attention. The data from the annual consumer survey points to the need for utilities, builders and manufacturers to develop a proactive strategy for customer engagement.

A key point in Energy Pulse is that utilities can no longer assume their customers will remain loyal in a marketplace of new options for acquiring and managing energy. Other findings reveal:

  • Which Americans aren’t thrilled with their utilities – and why that doesn’t necessarily matter
  • How many Americans would actually leave their utility if they could – and where they’d like to go instead for their electric service
  • Why consumers aren’t participating in energy efficiency programs – and what can be done to change that
  • Which home energy needs are crying out to be filled by utilities, builders and manufacturers – and how to get residential customers on board
  • What Gen Xers and Millennials say about technology and energy consumption ­­­­­– and why they may hold the utility’s success or failure in their hands

The good news is that power providers can emerge as winners in the new energy game —if they take steps to build rock-solid customer relationships. The report suggests strategies such as:

  • Disrupting consumers’ denial ­– because a growing economy and lower fuel prices have given them amnesia about why they need to make energy-efficiency improvements.
  • Revamping incentives – because most consumers don’t know they exist and too many layers of red tape keep them from participating in utility programs.
  • Learning to speak the customer’s language – because consumers rarely make energy-efficiency improvements for the reasons utilities think they do (hint: most consumers can’t even explain what the term “HVAC” means.)
  • Inventing new products and services to win customer loyalty – because with the home energy market up for grabs, utilities need loyal customers more than ever.

Download the executive summary for a free sneak-peek, and while you are there, consider signing up for Shelton Insights newsletter.

The Energy Pulse questionnaire surveyed a total of 2,009 Americans online, using members of Survey Sampling International’s online panel of over three million U.S. Internet users. Based on the total population of U.S. households (116,291,033), results from this study have an overall confidence level of 95 percent and a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percent.

The Shelton Group is a marketing communications agency dedicated to the sustainability and energy-efficiency sectors. Founder Suzanne Shelton has been a frequent and popular speaker at the Utility Energy Forum and the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange.

Source: The Shelton Group, 12/16/14

ENERGY STAR lists Top 5 reasons to give energy-efficient gifts

The holiday shopping season is about to shift into high gear, and new electronics will undoubtedly appear on many wish lists. Unfortunately, those gifts can come with a hidden price tag—higher utility bills in the New Year. Help your customers add energy efficiency to their shopping carts with these five suggestions from ENERGY STAR.EnergyStarXmas

  1. TVs offer the hottest featuresYou don’t have to sacrifice those sought-after bells and whistles like smart TV functionality, ultra-high definition, large screens, LED backlighting to keep your electricity bill down. ENERGY STAR-certified TVs offer all the latest features, as well as being more than 25 percent more energy-efficient than standard models.
  2. Sound bars sound even betterSound bars, wireless speakers and gadgets with Bluetooth connectivity are among the most popular new products, and some of the latest to earn the ENERGY STAR. You can make the audiophile on your list happy with gifts that are up to 60 percent more efficient.
  3. Give the “bright” giftENERGY STAR-certified LED, or light-emitting diode, bulbs make great gifts and stocking stuffers. Lighting technology is changing so quickly that it can be hard to keep track of the latest developments. Choosing the ENERGY STAR label is an easy way to make sure you get the energy efficiency and performance you expect. LED bulbs that earn the label are independently certified to ensure they deliver on brightness and color, and shine light where you want it.
  4. ‘Tis the season to be streamingTell your loved ones who like to stream movies and videos that laptops and tablets use the least amount of energy. Or better yet, give them an ENERGY STAR-certified slate or tablet. These personal devices use 10 times less power to stream than a game console does, seven times less power than streaming directly to a television and six times less than streaming to a desktop computer and monitor.
  5. The environment is on everyone’s wish listShopping for electronics can be overwhelming, but the little blue label makes the choice easier. ENERGY STAR products are designed and certified to save energy, a gift that keeps on giving long after the decorations are packed away and the last sugar cookie is eaten. It is the thought that counts and ENERGY STAR gifts show that you are thinking about innovative technology today and a cleaner environment tomorrow.

And although we would never recommend giving large home appliances as Christmas gifts, January and February are big months for those kinds of purchases. Use holiday bill inserts to remind your customers of the benefits of ENERGY STAR appliances and any customer rebates your utility offers.

Happy holidays from Western and ENERGY STAR.

Source: ENERGY STAR, 11/19/14

SRP surpasses energy-efficiency goals, heads for sustainability

Salt River Project You are leaving exceeded its annual goal of helping residential and commercial customers save energy and money through the Phoenix, Arizona-based utility’s energy-efficiency programs and initiatives.

Last year, SRP’s energy-efficiency programs for both residential and commercial customers provided annual energy savings equal to 2.3 percent of SRP’s retail energy sales. The Fiscal Year 2014 program goal was 1.5 percent of retail sales, so saving 640 million kilowatt-hours—the equivalent annual energy use of 35,000 homes—is quite an accomplishment.

“The energy-efficiency goal is part of our longer term Sustainable Portfolio Objective,” explained Dan Dreiling, SRP director of Market Research and Customer Programs. “SRP established an objective to meet 20 percent of our expected retail energy requirements with sustainable resources by 2020. Sustainable resources include energy efficiency, hydroelectric generation and other renewable generation.”

Energy efficiency is proving to be not only the most cost-effective way for SRP to help customers save energy and money, but also the sustainable resource with the most potential. The largest savings came from the Retail Lighting Program, which offered customers discounted prices on LED and CFL light bulbs. Reduced prices, which SRP provides to several big box retailers and home center stores, drove annual customer purchases to more than 2 million lamps.

Retail lighting programs, both commercial and residential, provided SRP with its biggest energy savings. (Photo by Salt River Project)
Retail lighting programs, both commercial and residential, provided SRP with its biggest energy savings. (Photo by Salt River Project)

Dreiling attributes the program’s considerable success to partnering with large, recognizable retailers, offering a diverse product mix and providing meaningful discounts on popular products. An effective multi-channel marketing campaign helped to spread the word to a relatively young energy-efficiency marketplace.

Cooling and more
Other high-performing programs that contributed to the goal include appliance recycling, Energy Star New Homes and rebates for Energy Star-certified, variable-speed pool pumps and, of course, efficient air conditioners. SRP offers substantial rebates for air conditioners and heat pumps with a seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER, of 15 or higher.

The air conditioner rebate was so attractive that one energy-savvy SRP customer couldn’t resist. “Since I work in Energy Services, I am very aware of our home energy use,” said Western Public Utilities Specialist Patricia Weeks. “For the last several years, we have been watching our utility bills increase, and I suspected that our two 20-year-old, heating-and-cooling units were to blame.”

Weeks purchased two energy-efficient systems that qualified for the SRP rebate last winter. “Our home is more comfortable and our utility bill is averaging $24 less per month compared to last year,” she stated.

Residential customers also increased their comfort and savings with comprehensive home assessments and rebates for services and products such as home duct repair and window shade screens. “In terms of motivation,” Dreiling observed, “we have learned that increasing comfort and convenience is just as important to customers as saving money on their utility bill.”

For ‘bottom liners’
Lighting was the source of most of SRP’s commercial energy savings. Enhanced lighting rebates through Standard Business Solutions, large commercial and industry energy-efficiency projects through Custom Business Solutions and lighting retrofit projects under the Small Business Solutions program collectively saved nearly 179,000 MWhs of energy.

Fry’s Food Stores, You are leaving a Phoenix supermarket chain, participated in the SRP Business Solutions rebate programs to implement 50 projects in 30 metropolitan stores. So far, the grocery retailer has realized about 1.2 million kWh per year in energy savings. “SRP rebate programs help Fry’s continue to reduce our carbon footprint, which is good for the environment as well as our bottom line,” said Ben Tan, energy manager of Fry’s Food Stores Facilities Engineering.

Dreiling acknowledged that reaching commercial customers with efficiency programs is a challenge for SRP, as it is for so many utilities. “But we are seeing more and more customers moving in this direction,” he noted. “It comes down to demonstrating that efficiency is a value proposition, not only for the organization, but its customers, as well.”

The best advertisement for business efficiency programs is a success story like Fry’s Food Stores, he added.

Up next
Perhaps the biggest challenge an energy-efficiency program faces after a successful year is how to build on that success.

While the popular lighting program will continue, SRP plans to put more emphasis on its residential whole-house program in the coming year. Comprehensive solutions for the entire home have a higher price tag than energy-efficient light bulbs, but produce deeper energy savings for the homeowner. “We will continue to offer specific air conditioner-related savings measures, as well,” said Dreiling. “In Arizona, air conditioning is a primary energy consumer so managing that load is key to deferring future resource needs.”

Thanks to commitment and savvy energy planning, SRP seems well prepared for the future. The timetable for meeting its goal of 20 percent sustainable resources by 2020 is already ahead of schedule. Almost 13 percent of its retail energy needs currently come from wind, geothermal, solar, landfill gas, biomass and hydropower, as well as energy-efficiency programs. In balancing reliability, affordability and environmental stewardship, SRP is proving that energy efficiency tips the scale toward success.

Thermostats are emphasis for newest PLMA interest group

The Peak Load Management AllianceRedirecting to a non-government site (PLMA) has announced that Brian Doyle and Lee Hamilton of Xcel Energy are co-leading PLMA’s new Thermostat Interest Group.

The PLMA Thermostat Interest Group will examine the costs and benefits of all types of utility-sponsored programs that leverage thermostat technology to deliver demand response, energy efficiency or other system benefits. A group goal is to identify the resources and partners that best communicate the value of smart thermostats to utility programs, rather than to focus on a specific technology or solution.

The group intends to collect documentation from published and not-so-public sources such as utility thermostat pilot and program evaluations. These and other third-party resources covering technology evaluations, program design concepts, market assessments, savings potential and more will be selectively shared with members.

The group has already conducted an initial meeting with founding PLMA organization representatives. Based on a strong interest level, the group will host a half-day workshop on Nov. 3 prior to the 15th PLMA Fall Conference in Philadelphia.

PLMA Interest Group membership is restricted to representatives from PLMA member organizations, but any organization is welcome to join PLMA. Source: Peak Load Management Alliance, 9/15/14

Ideas welcomed at 2014 Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange

With more than 110 utility and energy industry professionals already packing their brief cases for the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency ExchangeRedirecting to a non-government site (RMUEE), you may want to take a look at the agenda to see what is attracting such a crowd to Aspen, Colo.

Western Administrator Mark Gabriel was a keynote speaker at the 2013 RMUEE. (Photo by RL Martin)
Western Administrator Mark Gabriel was a keynote speaker at the 2013 RMUEE. (Photo by RL Martin)

Admittedly, scheduling this popular conference for Sept. 24-26 puts it at the height of Colorado’s fall color season, but the real magnet is the diverse and packed agenda.

Now in its eighth year, the RMUEE is the regional conference for the people who design and deliver energy-efficiency programs to residential and business consumers. Look for utility and government program managers to share the speaker’s podium with trade allies who support those programs with cutting-edge products and services. Experts in marketing, finance and technology will weigh in on best practices alongside the people who turn the practices into action—and results!  

Something to talk about
Veterans of past RMUEEs are no doubt looking forward to lively discussions in which they are the “thought leaders.” Newcomers are always welcomed and may only need a little introduction to prepare for sharing their experiences, expertise and opinions with colleagues. The roundtable discussions that open the RMUEE on Wednesday morning are just the thing to put everyone at ease. Representatives from City of Aspen UtilitiesRedirecting to a non-government site, City of Fort Collins UtilitiesRedirecting to a non-government site, Platte River Power AuthorityRedirecting to a non-government site, Poudre Valley Electric CooperativeRedirecting to a non-government site and Colorado Springs UtilitiesRedirecting to a non-government site will stir up dialogue about the challenges that are most on attendees’ minds.

The afternoon sessions highlight specific topics including energy efficiency education, program integration and financing. While these presentations are more structured than roundtable discussions, questions, answers and observations are always encouraged.

The dual-track sessions on Thursday morning break down barriers even more with smaller group presentations. Choose between the residential track and the commercial track, but don’t be surprised to find yourself wishing you could be two places at once.  Don’t worry—you can ask your colleagues what you missed and fill them in on your session choices over lunch. In the afternoon, the whole group will reunite to talk about collaboration, system and building technology and program evaluation and evolution.

Friday brings a change of pace with the return of last year’s popular and fast-paced Switch~TalksRedirecting to a non-government site. Speakers have five minutes and 20 slides to share their thoughts on energy efficiency, renewable resources, the latest technology or anything else that interests them. The RMUEE closes with a screening of the documentary “Watershed,”Redirecting to a non-government site about the management of the Colorado River. This movie is a must-see for anyone who is involved in the delivery of electricity or water in the dry Rocky Mountain region.

And that’s not all
You will undoubtedly hear comments during the sessions that call for more discussion, but proceedings have to move along. Hold those thoughts for the leisurely meals, refreshment breaks and social hours scattered liberally throughout the RMUEE. Any past attendee will tell you that the networking opportunities are just as educational—and sometimes more so—than the formal presentations.

The poster session on Wednesday evening will introduce some new ideas in tasty, bite-sized portions, along with tasty, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres. Grab a beverage and a snack and quiz your colleagues about their mini-presentations on subjects ranging from heat pumps and building-manager training to social media and what it means to be an energy services provider.

Thursday night attendees repair to downtown Aspen to enjoy more socializing. Many a partnership and project have been hatched over a beer or a good meal at one of the city’s fine drinking and dining establishments.

Special guest stars
As usual, exciting keynote speakers will be contributing fresh insights and provocative points of view to the mix. Suzanne Shelton of The Shelton GroupRedirecting to a non-government site sustainability marketing firm returns as opening keynote speaker on Wednesday. Learn what Americans really think about energy efficiency and how those lessons applied to the firm’s recent campaigns, Avoid the Energy DramaRedirecting to a non-government site and FiveworxRedirecting to a non-government site.

James Mandel of the Rocky Mountain InstituteRedirecting to a non-government site will speak on Thursday about the institute’s partnership with the city of Fort Collins to reduce carbon emissions on a community-wide level. The groundbreaking project is yielding, among other things, a new business model for utilities of the future.

Clearly, the program committee, which includes several Western customers as well as Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman, is not afraid to lay the ideas on thick. The RMUEE is where program managers can take a break from the daily challenge of keeping the lights on to imagine their utility’s future. We hope to see you, and your ideas, in Aspen.

Webinar introduces tool for comparing efficient building products, technologies

Aug. 27
12 p.m. Pacific Time

Commercial building engineers and designers are often hesitant to incorporate new or underused energy-efficiency technologies and products because, in many cases, they cannot verify the performance claims. To overcome this barrier to adoption, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is collaborating with other agencies to create the Technology Performance Exchange (TPEx).

This web-based database compiles unbiased product energy performance data onpromising energy-efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Consumers, manufacturers, vendors, modelers, researchers and utilities can leverage reliable data to improve their assessments and comparisons of building-related products.

The next free webinar in the “Emerging Technologies Showcase” series highlights the TPEx. Register for the webinarRedirecting to a non-government site to learn more about the web tool’s status and potential, and how utilities, manufacturers and research institutions can further its development. A question and answer session follows the presentation.

Sponsored by Bonneville Power Administration, and supported by Western, the Emerging Technologies Showcase series brings you the latest information about promising energy-efficiency technologies and practices.

All webinars are recorded and available on the Emerging Energy Efficiency Technologies websiteRedirecting to a non-government site and ConduitRedirecting to a non-government site energy efficiency resource.

Technologies of high-performance homes focus of free webinar

June 12 12 p.m. PDT  Energy Efficient Emerging Technologies (E3T) Showcase Redirecting to a non-government site is presenting the second installment of High Performance Residential Buildings Redirecting to a non-government site . Join the E3T Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the webinar on Thursday, June 12th at 12 p.m. PDT. An E3T Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of regional and national are in the process of High performance residential building experts from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and elsewhere have been identifying, ranking and scoring technologies for their potential to reduce energy use in residential buildings in the Pacific Northwest. Speakers will present on:

  • Firmware upgrade for ductless heat pumps
  • High-efficiency set-top boxes
  • Reducing appliance standby loads
  • Three-function heat pumps for hot water, radiant floors and cooling

There will be a question and answer period after each speaker. Sponsored by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) with support from Western, these monthly webinars are free but registration is required. Participants learn about promising energy efficiency technologies and practices that BPA is considering for future research opportunities or focus areas. All webinars are recorded and available on the E3T website and Conduit Redirecting to a non-government site energy-efficiency group.

Webinar showcases technologies for high-performance homes

May 21, 2014
1 P.M. MDT

The Washington State University Energy Program for Emerging Energy Efficient Technologies (E3T) is presenting a free webinar on systems, strategies, equipment and appliances to reduce electricity use in residential buildings.  

Next Step Homes & Passive HouseRedirecting to a non-government site is scheduled for May 21 at 1 P.M. MDT. Speakers from the Northwest Energy Efficiency AllianceRedirecting to a non-government site and Passive HouseRedirecting to a non-government site will discuss their individual approaches to whole-house integrated energy efficiency. 

Next Step HomesRedirecting to a non-government site and its parent nonprofit organization, Next Step Network, Inc., work to increase the supply of affordable housing options and put sustainable home ownership within reach of more lower-income families nationwide. Passive House is committed to making high-performance passive building the mainstream market standard. An E3T Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of regional and national high performance residential building experts are currently identifying, ranking and scoring technologies for their potential to reduce energy use in residential buildings in the Pacific Northwest.

Following the presentations, attendees may participate in a question and answer session. The webinar continues for TAG members only for another half hour.

Participation is free but registration is required.

Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) sponsors the monthly E3T Showcase webinars with support from Western. The events offer the latest information about  promising energy-efficiency technologies and practices that BPA is considering for future research opportunities or focus areas.

All webinars are recorded and available on the E3T websiteRedirecting to a non-government site and ConduitRedirecting to a non-government site.

DOE issues draft solicitation for renewable energy, efficiency project loan guarantees

Innovative renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects that could reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gases may be eligible for up to $4 billion in loan guarantees from the Loan Programs Office (LPO) of the Department of Energy.

The LPO issued a draft Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Solicitation on April 16 to support renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies that are catalytic, replicable and market ready.

Businesses often have difficulty obtaining full financing to commercialize innovative technologies. Conventional lenders do not want to take on the perceived risks associated with technology that has never been deployed at commercial scale. LPO loan guarantees give energy innovators a path to bring their products to market, while creating solutions to the nation’s challenges and stimulating the economy.

To be considered for a loan, projects must:

  • Use an innovative technology or system
  • Reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gases and support the President’s Climate Action Plan
  • Be located in the U.S., but may be foreign owned
  • Be able to repay loan principal and interest

The solicitation seeks applications covering a range of technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and significantly improve on existing technologies already deployed in the U.S. The LPO has specifically identified five areas of focus:

Advanced grid integration and storage
The focus is on renewable energy systems that incorporate technologies such as demand response or local storage to mitigate issues related to variability, dispatchability, congestion and control. These advanced system designs will improve the grid compatibility of renewable energy and open up a larger role for renewable generation. Qualifying projects may include:

  • Renewable energy generation, including distributed generation, incorporating storage
  • Smart grid systems enabling greater penetration of renewable generation through any combination of demand response, energy efficiency, sensing and storage  
  • Micro-grid projects that reduce carbon dioxide emissions at a system level
  • Storage projects that clearly enable greater adoption of renewable generation

Drop-in biofuels
The goal of this category is to develop biofuel products that are more compatible with today’s engines, delivery infrastructure and refueling station equipment. Eligible projects would provide nearly identical bio-based substitutes for crude oil, gasoline, diesel and jet fuel; or produce intermediate fuel feed stocks that can be integrated into existing oil petroleum refineries. These types of projects would not be restricted by current ethanol and biodiesel blend levels. Qualifying projects may include:

  • New bio-refineries that produce gasoline, diesel fuel or jet fuel
  • Bio-crude refining processes
  • Modifications to existing ethanol facilities

This area focuses on projects that turn waste products such as landfill methane and segregated waste into an energy source. These types of technologies will enable commercial-scale use of waste materials that are otherwise discarded and produce significant clean, renewable energy. Qualifying projects may include:

  • Methane from landfills or ranches via bio-digesters
  • Crop waste-to-energy and bio-products
  • Forestry waste-to-energy and co-firing

Enhancement of existing facilities
These technologies will incorporate renewable generation technology into existing renewable energy and efficient energy facilities to significantly enhance performance or extend the lifetime of the generator. Qualifying projects may include:

  • Incorporation of power production into currently non-powered dams
  • Inclusion of variable-speed pump-turbines into existing hydroelectric facilities
  • Retrofitting existing wind turbines

Efficiency improvements
Incorporating new or improved technologies to increase efficiency and substantially reduce greenhouse gases is the focus of this category. Qualifying projects may include:

  • Improve or reduce energy use in residential, institutional and commercial facilities, buildings or processes
  • Recover, store or dispatch energy from curtailed or underused renewable energy sources
  • Recover, store or dispatch waste energy from thermal, mechanical, electrical, chemical or hydro-processes.

This list of potential projects is not exhaustive. Ultimately, the LPO will evaluate applications on a project-by-project basis.

Understand the process
The LPO is accepting public comment on the draft through the end of May. Public meetings to answer questions and obtain comments on the draft are being held on May 6 in Twin Cities, Minnesota, and May 7 in Stanford, California. The first project submission deadline is expected to occur at the end of the summer. 

To provide applicants with timely responses, the application process is divided into two stages. The first part will determine the project’s initial eligibility and whether it is ready to proceed. Applications that clear Part I then proceed to Part II, which includes the full application process. Viable projects that are granted a conditional commitment from DOE then undergo the complete underwriting process and negotiation of terms for the loan guarantee.

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy solicitation is authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 through Section 1703 of the Loan Guarantee Program. The LPO currently manages a more than $30 billion portfolio of approximately 30 closed and committed projects nationwide, including leading edge renewable energy projects and advanced vehicle manufacturing facilities.