Learn more about WAPA from these resources

Our mission in Energy Services is to keep WAPA customers informed about tools and technologies that help you with resource planning. Now, for those who would like to know more about how WAPA works and why, we offer two online resources: The Source and The Customer Circuit.

The theme for the Customer Circuit Spring 2016 was working with Washington D.C.
The theme for the Customer Circuit Spring 2016 was working with Washington D.C.

Launched in spring of this year, The Source is a one-stop online shop for operational data and financial information about WAPA. Western Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel explained, “We recognize people’s desire to have information at their fingertips. With that in mind, we created this site for stakeholders and the public to quickly find the information they need. When our customers have requests, we are well positioned to deliver.”

Nearly all the information is already available throughout Western’s primary website. The Source, however, provides one convenient location for visitors to find WAPA’s annual reports, budget allocation, presentations and speeches, regional rates and a searchable index of WAPA’s power systems called “By the Numbers.”

The Customer Circuit is a quarterly newsletter that provides customers with information about WAPA’s operations, programs, budget and initiatives. Each issue explores a specific theme; the most recent issue includes a story about how WAPA’s Washington, D.C., Liaison Office works with other federal agencies. The winter issue covered the state of WAPA’s assets including regional offices, hydrology conditions, transmission, security and cyber assets. Customers and other visitors can download the Customer Circuit, including past issues, on The Source.

The Source and Customer Circuit, like WAPA’s website redesign project, are all part of the same effort to enhance and expand transparency and to improve our website functionality. We encourage customers to visit the WAPA website and take the redesign survey. If you would like to have more input in how WAPA shares information with its customers, contact Public Affairs at 720-962-7050, to volunteer for remote user testing.

Chief Public Affairs Officer Teresa Waugh said, “Our goal is to present relevant and timely information in the clearest, most efficient way possible.”

Reports highlight different aspects of utility efficiency programs

If energy-efficiency is the cheapest resource, it is also the most elusive. In the face of new regulations and growing public concern about the environment, utilities need to be willing to explore a variety of approaches to reducing energy use. Several studies released in 2013 offered much food for thought on designing effective energy-efficiency programs.

Breaking down energy behavior
The utility industry has seen a steady growth over the last five years in behavior-based energy-efficiency programs—strategies that use an understanding of how individuals consume energy to decrease energy demand. The American Council for an Energy Efficient EconomyRedirecting to a non-government site (ACEEE) recently completed the first comparative analysis of programs that focus on changing customer behavior to save energy. The Field Guide to Utility-Run Behavior Programs examines 281 of these programs offered by 104 energy providers and third parties between 2008 and 2013.

Researchers sorted all the programs into 40 different categories grounded in the behavioral and cognitive sciences that can be roughly grouped into three large families:

  • Cognition programs focus on delivering information to consumers. General and targeted communication efforts, social media, classroom education and training fall into this group.
  • Calculus programs rely on consumers making economically rational decisions. This group uses feedback, games, incentives, home energy audits and installation to shape consumer choices.
  • Social interaction programs rely on interaction among people for their effectiveness. They involve social marketing, person-to person efforts, eco-teams, peer champions, online forums and gifts.

ACEEE recommends that program designers “stack” several strategies—at least one from each family—to engage multiple drivers of consumer decision making. For example, a designer might want to combine a home energy report with an audit program using a community-based social marketing approach. Holistic programs that simultaneously appeal to consumers through information, economic incentives, and social interaction are likely to have the greatest impact.

Millennials expect social interaction
Social engagement played a starring role in the project that won a student competition hosted by energy management consulting firm DEFGRedirecting to a non-government site.

The Future of Energy 2020 tasked a group of New York University students to envision the future customer experience in the utility sector from the perspective of the Millennial Generation. The project took place in a finance class offered within the NYU Gallatin School. Students who attend this college within NYU pursue inter-disciplinary approaches to their education and have a reputation for thinking “outside the box.”

Working with DEFG, Professor Peter Rajsingh asked students to tell a story centering on future interactions between customers and utilities in the year 2020. Students broke into small teams to conduct market research and trends analysis, and then presented their vision through a narrative and visual demonstrations of the future. The teams chose interactions ranging from new bill-paying options, to future energy management and advances in clean technologies, to a new paradigm for low-income consumers to earn energy credits.

Selected from four finalists, the winning story depicted a young couple navigating different needs and expectations as they bought a new home. The home featured several new technologies and applications that both managed energy and were environmentally friendly. The utility served as a pro-active partner to the couple, assisting them with their decision-making, even providing an “energy concierge.”

Professor Rajsingh found it interesting that the students all rooted their visions of future customer experience in social contexts, which humanized the relationship between customers and utilities. “Transparency and social responsibility were key themes that were woven into all the Vision 2020 presentations,” he noted.

The results of the competition pointed to a future where young adults expect their utilities to engage with customers and support a mix of consumer technologies, devices and interactions on the customer’s terms. “The student’s Vision 2020 married major trends in customer service and communications with advancements in energy management and technologies into one seamless experience,” stated DEFG CEO Jamie Wimberly. “In other words, for the millennial generation, the future customer experience represents the digitization of the utility customer experience. Ultimately, that is a very different relationship between the customer and the utility from today.”

Efficiency for industry
Energy efficiency programs for industrial and other large customers call for a different approach than residential programs. Businesses may need to train or hire staff to deal with specialized equipment or operations. A report from Southwest Energy Efficiency ProjectRedirecting to a non-government site (SWEEP) indicates that utilities can achieve significant, measurable savings by providing large customers with funding to build in-house energy management expertise.

SWEEP studied three strategic energy management (SEM) programs, as these programs are called, and reported its findings in Utility Strategic Energy Management Programs. SEM programs implemented by Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and Puget Sound Energy achieved energy savings of 15 to 25 percent of the agencies’ total savings for all commercial and industrial efficiency programs. The programs also showed that savings from operations and maintenance (O&M) improvements can be measured in a rigorous way, and that SEM can be very cost effective.

SWEEP recommends that utilities with an interest in SEM programs start by launching an energy manager co-funding program. This strategy helps many large customers to see energy management in a more comprehensive way and begin to develop the staff resources needed to implement energy-efficiency improvements.

The next step might be to create a pilot program to train a group of customers in the SEM principles and develop a way to measure savings. Offering a utility program to help industrial customers find, implement and measure savings from O&M improvements will put businesses on the SEM path.

Friday Night Lights: Thanks to DOE, It Won’t Cost as Much to Light Your High School Football Field

Next time you’re at a night game or in a big box store, look up—if you see bright white lights housed in dome-shaped fixtures, you’re probably looking at metal halide lights. Strong new energy efficiency standards for metal halide lamp fixtures proposed yesterday by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would save businesses and consumers money, and would be a step toward meeting President Obama’s goal of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gas emissions by 3 billion metric tons by 2030 through efficiency standards.

DOE estimates that the new standards would yield $3 billion in net savings for businesses and towns and would reduce CO2 emissions by 15-17 million metric tons by 2030. In addition to big box stores, sports fields, and gymnasiums, metal halide lighting is used in a wide variety of applications including warehouses, parking garages, and streets and roadways. Read the full postRedirecting to a non-government site Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 8/14/13