Increase your energy efficiency IQ at two fall events

Maybe it is the debate over the administration’s clean power plan or Tesla’s announcement of a new consumer energy storage system or the media buzz around the “Internet of things.” Whatever the reason, consumers—both residential and commercial—are thinking and talking more about energy use and management. Despite a lot of gloomy prognosticating, that is good for utilities. Two upcoming conferences, one new and one established, can help you to turn this growing consumer interest in energy use to your advantage.

Spanning Western territory
The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange is now in its ninth year of bringing together utility program managers and industry allies to explore the many facets of energy-efficiency programs. Aspen Meadows Resort in Aspen, Colorado, will host conference veterans and newcomers Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 for in-depth discussion, discovery and networking.

Does your service territory look more like prairie than mountain? Then consider attending the Introduction to Demand Response training, Integrating Energy Efficiency with Demand Response in the Midwest workshop and networking reception in Chicago, Sept. 15 to16. These three separate events have a slightly different focus than the RMUEE, but still provide an outstanding learning opportunity for utility professionals involved in energy efficiency and demand response.

Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman passes the microphone. RMUEE is a "share, not stare" event where every attendee is encouraged to speak up. (Photo by Tiger Adolf)
Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman passes the microphone. RMUEE is a “share, not stare” event where every attendee is encouraged to speak up. (Photo by Tiger Adolf)

Hear from leaders
Western customers are involved in both events, so you can expect to hear a frontline perspective on program creation, management and evaluation. The City of Aspen Utilities, Holy Cross Energy and Platte River Power Authority are long-time sponsors of RMUEE. Representatives from those utilities will moderate panels and give presentations alongside many other Western customers.

At the workshop portion of the Chicago event, Ken Glaser of Connexus Energy, a member cooperative from Great River Energy will participate in a demand response roundtable. Representatives from Consumers Energy and Duke Energy are also on the panel.

Event sponsors Peak Load Management Association (PLMA) and Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA) chose speakers with hands-on experience in creating and implementing demand response (DR) and demand-side management (DSM) programs. Gary Connett, demand-side management director at Great River and PLMA member noted that cooperatives and municipal utilities are leaders in load management. “They are a great resource for power providers who are just getting their programs started.”

Start your programs right
The event is specifically for utilities that are new to DSM and DR, added Connett. “The workshop is designed for people who are considering their first program and are looking for models and ideas,” he explained. “Attendees will learn the fundamentals of each strategy, the benefits and how to implement a program.”

 Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance headquarters is located in the Historic Civic Opera Building, about 20 minutes from either Chicago Midway International Airport or O'Hare International Airport. (Artwork by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)
Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance headquarters is located in the Historic Civic Opera Building, about 20 minutes from either Chicago Midway International Airport or O’Hare International Airport. (Artwork by Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance)

Introduction to Demand Response is a good place for newcomers to begin. The one-day course provides a comprehensive overview of demand response topics. Current issues will be explored from the perspectives of utilities, retail energy providers, customers, independent system operators, and other demand response technology and services providers.

After a day of intensive training, attendees can unwind at a networking reception on the roof of MEEA headquarters. There is nothing like sipping, nibbling and chatting with colleagues in the presence of one of America’s great skylines to get the ideas flowing. The Wednesday workshop, “Integrating Energy Efficiency with Demand Response in the Midwest,” is tailored to the specific goals and challenges facing midwestern utilities. The first two sessions separately address DR and energy-efficiency professionals, and the third covers program models that successfully combine the two points of view.

You may register for all three events as a package or in any combination, including just the reception. Hotel accommodations must be reserved separately and are not included in event registration.

Efficiency issues, conference evolve
Much has changed and much has stayed the same in nearly a decade of talking energy efficiency at RMUEE. Stubborn challenges persist, such as program evaluation, reaching low-income customers and creating a trusted contractor pool, although each year brings clever and creative local solutions. On the positive side, utilities can choose from a variety of mature behavior-based programs for engaging customers, and have plenty of data to make the selection easier.

Technology, always a hot topic, keeps challenging utilities to keep up with it. Lighting upgrades continue to offer the most bang for the buck, but LED, or light-emitting diode, lamps have displaced compact fluorescent lights as the state-of-the-art in efficiency. Automated systems to manage home energy use are still popular, but programmable thermostats seem almost quaint compared to smartphone apps that allow people to control multiple systems remotely. The cost of solar panels has dropped sharply in nine years, making distributed generation a more pressing issue, and carbon emissions regulations now seem closer than ever.

The RMUEE agenda covers all these topics and more, with presentations by your colleagues—the people who design and implement customer programs. You will also hear from trade allies who offer energy products and services and from government agencies that work with utilities to meet efficiency goals.

With so much experience in one place, networking usually turns out to be the star of the RMUEE. Attendees will have plenty of time to make new contacts and compare notes with old friends during meals, breaks and receptions. For a change of pace this year, the final day will be dedicated to outdoor teambuilding activities, including a guided hike and a bike ride to the Maroon Bells. That is, weather permitting, of course, but the fall weather in Aspen is generally cooperative.

There is still time to register for RMUEE, and rooms at the Sky Motel in Aspen are available at a special conference rate. The motel is only a short drive from the Aspen Meadows Conference Center, and will also host the Thursday evening reception.

The Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange and the Midwest regional workshops differ in focus. One explores the broad range of customer efficiency programs while the other hones in on two specific strategies. The target audiences deal with different geographic challenges. But the events are tied by the belief that the real experts on the utility industry are the utilities themselves. We will discover all the expertise we need to deal with environmental, regulatory and technological changes if we just talk to our neighbors.

Catching up on industry news

Welcome to 2015, a time to start fresh and explore new territory. Whether that means launching or updating efficiency programs, seeking out more education or bringing attention to your successes, here are some news items to help you on your way.

Efficiency increases in 2014
Watch for new appliance efficiency standards from the Department of Energy. In 2014, DOE issued a total of 10 new or updated standards, including commercial refrigeration, electric motors, external power supplies, furnace fans, metal halide lamps, wall-unit air conditioners and walk-in coolers. Altogether, these 10 standards will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 435 million metric tons and save American families and businesses $78 billion in electricity bills through 2030.

Source: Appliance Standards Awareness Project 1/16/15

Regulations matter
According to the Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI), fixed-cost recovery mechanisms play a significant role in supporting electric efficiency. The 2014 IEI report You are leaving WAPA.gov. found that investment in energy efficiency depends on state policies that allow utilities to pursue efficiency as a sustainable business as well as state mandates for energy efficiency.

Fixed-cost recovery mechanisms, such as decoupling and lost revenue adjustment, help a utility recover the marginal revenue associated with fixed operating costs. Utilities appear to be more willing to invest in programs to reduce energy use if state regulations allow them to recoup their losses.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) bolsters the IEI report, with nine of the top 10 states on its 2014 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard You are leaving WAPA.gov. having a fixed-cost recovery mechanism.

Source: SmartWatt Energy News, 1/15/15

Dive into hot water
Drought will continue to be a major concern in 2015, so events that focus on water use may well become the hot ticket. The ACEEE Hot Water Forum Redirecting to a non-government site (HWF) is now in its sixth year of gathering experts to discuss making water hot, distributing it with low losses, and employing efficient fixtures and practices. Professionals from manufacturing; distribution (plumbing); electricity, gas and water utilities; government; and the research communities will meet in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 22-24 to learn from each other and build momentum for market transformation.

The conference emphasizes both the technical efficiency potential and the policy implications of service hot water technology and practices, and how people use hot water. In recent years, key topics have included:

  • Standards and rating methods
  • Grid-interactive electric water heating
  • All about heat pump water heaters
  • The latest in innovative technologies
  • Efforts to improve residential water heating efficiency
  • An international perspective on water heating

Utilities still have a great deal to learn about the water-energy nexus  and its potential for cost and resource savings.

Since 2008, this conference has provided a venue for all members of the hot water community to collaborate and share new ideas.

Source: American Council for and Energy Efficient Economy, 1/17/15

Learn something new
If professional development is on your list of resolutions, check out the pre-conference training sessions that kick off the National Conference of the Association for Energy Services ProfessionalsRedirecting to a non-government site (AESP) in Orlando, Florida, Feb. 9-12.

The sessions include:

  • Behavior Change and Energy Efficiency Programs
  • Intro to the Principles of EM&V (Evaluation, Measurement and Verification)
  • Leadership Training for Exceptional Team Performance

The fee for each course is $545, and continuing education units will be available. You don’t have to attend the conference to take advantage of the workshops, but AESP events are always great for networking and expanding your horizons.

Source: Association for Energy Services Professionals, 1/14/15

Get recognition
Submit your successful peak load and demand response management programs, initiatives and achievements for the 12th annual PLMA Awards Redirecting to a non-government site. The Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA) is accepting nominations through March 2 for the following categories:

  • Program Pacesetter – recognizes outstanding programs that effectively support and deliver peak load management
  • Technology Pioneer – recognizes innovative applications of technology with demonstrated potential to scale
  • Outstanding Thought Leader – recognizes the impact of projects, outreach campaigns and individual contributions that have the potential to shape the industry’s future

You don’t have to be a PLMA member to nominate a program, and self-nominations are appropriate. One or more awards will be presented in each category with sub-categories for Utilities, Regulators, Independent System Operator/Regional Transmission Operator, Aggregator, Marketer, Consumer, Solutions Provider, Manufacturer, Individual, Organization or Project.

The awards will be presented at the 16th PLMA Spring Conference Redirecting to a non-government site, April 28-29, 2015, in Tucson, Arizona.

If you are interested in joining PLMA, the nonprofit now offers membership in three tiers. Utilities and other program providers may now join as associate, advising or sustaining members. Membership offers access to networking events and training, and the opportunity to participate in committees and working groups at various levels.

PLMA provides resources and advocacy for organizations involved in demand response initiatives, recently announced a change to its membership structure.

Source: Peak Load Management Alliance, 1/16/15

Energy Services is always on the lookout for information to help our customers cope with the challenges of delivering power in a changing industry. Feel free to share news items about events, programs, policies and technology that your utility finds useful.

16th PLMA Spring Conference “Call for Presenters” now underway

The Peak Load Management Alliance You are leaving WAPA.gov. (PLMA) is seeking session presentation proposals through Friday, Dec. 12, for the 16th PLMA Spring Conference taking place April 28-29, 2015, in Tucson, Arizona. The program planning committee is searching for exceptional perspectives exploring best practices and cutting-edge issues that affect professionals who develop, implement and evaluate demand response programs.

It is NOT complicated!  Limit your session proposal to just one page and simply provide:

  • Presentation title and one-paragraph description as it might appear on the agenda
  • Presenter’s name, title, organization with one-paragraph bio as it might appear on the agenda
  • Brief explanation of why the session will be relevant and compelling to the audience

Need more reason to share? Selected presenters get a free conference registration!

If your presentation is chosen, don’t forget to let us know at Energy Services Bulletin. We are always on the lookout for stories about our customers’ successful and innovative load management strategies.

Read more.

Source: Peak Load Management Alliance, 11/21/14