IR workshop comes to Rocky Mountain Region

[Editor’s note: This story appeared in the July 2012 Energy Services Bulletin]

It seems like some regions get to have all the fun, playing with state-of-the-art infrared (IR) cameras and learning about all the ways the diagnostic tool can save energy and money for utilities and their consumers alike. Well, Western’s Energy Services doesn’t play favorites—we are teaming up with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and Clean Energy Ambassadors to give Rocky Mountain Region (RM) its very own IR camera workshop on Aug. 8.

Nathan Wilcox of FLIR instructs attendees at the Billings, Mont., workshop in the finer points of interpreting IR photos. (Photo by Clean Energy Ambassadors)

United Power in Brighton, Colo., is hosting the workshop in its Civic Room from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and it promises the same information- and action-packed day our Upper Great Plains customers enjoyed at the April workshop. “We appreciate United Power offering the use of their facilities for the workshop,” Said RM Energy Services Representative Bob Langenberger. “It’s a good central location for many Western customers and Tri-State members.”

“Tri-State has always made an effort to provide its member systems with the tools and programs they need to help promote energy efficiency,” explained Tri-State Marketing Coordinator Ron Ebenkamp. “Recently, several of the Tri-State member systems expressed interest in an IR camera workshop, so we decided to team up with Western to offer training.”
 
A busy day
As with previous IR workshops, we have invited speakers who have a wealth of experience in thermography and camera uses. FLIR and Fluke are providing the equipment for the hands-on training portion of the workshop, along with case studies of how utilities used the cameras to detect line and substation loss. And as always, Gary Hoffmann, Western’s Equipment Loan Program manager, will be on hand to remind participants that the program gives them the opportunity to test drive different camera models.

One of the reasons the IR workshop is so popular is that we tailor the agenda to focus on issues unique to the region. The Rocky Mountain perspective on IR camera use is being provided courtesy of Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association.  Energy Use Specialist Gary Myers will present the customer service side of thermography use during energy audits, while Operations Manager Glen Livengood will cover the Poudre Valley’s plans to use IR cameras to maintain its distribution system.

Member Services Manager Myles Jensen said, “Poudre Valley has benefitted from IR camera inspections for many residential and commercial audits, and for some distribution equipment inspections. I think our case study will give workshop attendees a new appreciation and understanding of what an inspection program can do for their utilities.”

The big attraction, however, is the hands-on training geared to participants’ individual experience. Attendees will conduct inspections on selected facilities, learn tips for more effective audits from the pros and print out reports at the end of the day. The workshop wraps up with a question and answer period to help attendees address any issues that came up during field training.

Don’t wait to register
In short, the day-long workshop is a crash course on one of the most versatile diagnostic tools available to energy professionals, and all this knowledge can be yours for $100. The registration fee covers class materials, and continental breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack. Meals and breaks will also give you time to network with your colleagues, talk about your own IR inspection program or ask someone else about theirs.

The last workshops drew big crowds and space is limited, so early registration is recommended. Download and fill out the registration form, and fax it to Stevie Moe at 866-484-2373 with your check or money order made out to Clean Energy Ambassadors. The form includes hotel suggestions if you are coming from out of town and need lodging. You can also email Moe with questions, or call her at 406-969-1040.

Finally, if the Rocky Mountain Region IR workshop sounds great, but is too far away for you to attend, contact your Energy Services representative about scheduling an event in your area. As we said, Energy Services doesn’t play favorites—we want all our customers to discover the benefits of IR cameras.

Western customers show up in DOE Top 10 Utility Green Power Programs

Public power utilities, including several Western customers, scored well in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Top 10” rankings of utility green power programs for 2010.

Ranked by renewable energy sales, Sacramento Municipal Utility District sold the fourth largest amount of renewable energy (kWh/year) in the nation (including investor-owned utilities). SMUD was the only public power utility to crack the top 10 in total number of customer participants in green power programs, ranking fourth in that category as well.

Using information provided by utilities, NREL developed rankings of utility green power programs for 2010 in a variety of categories. Other Western customers appearing in the Top 10 included:

NREL recently added the category of community solar programs to its ratings, giving Western customers another chance to shine. Holy Cross Energy, SMUD, St. George, Utah, and United Power placed sixth through eighth. Community solar programs allow customers to purchase a share of a solar system developed in their community and receive the benefits of the energy that is produced by their share.

The Green Power assessment was performed by NREL’s Strategic Energy Analysis Center (SEAC), which integrates technical and economic analyses and leads NREL’s efforts in applying clean energy technologies to both national and international markets.