Requested: Your ideas for UEF Pre-Forum Workshop topics

Deadline extended to Feb. 15, 2017!

The 37th annual Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. is just around the corner, and with it, the Pre-Forum Workshop for utility and government attendees. This exclusive session is a candid roundtable discussion about pressing issues facing power providers and the government agencies that support them. The program committee is inviting attendees from those sectors to share their greatest concerns in an online survey You are leaving WAPA.gov. by Feb. 8. The topics that get the most votes will be included on the workshop agenda.

This year’s theme, “Change is the Only Constant – Customers, Policy and Technology,” sums up the challenges of doing business in today’s electricity industry. The main agenda offers many perspectives on what customers want, what utilities can do to meet those expectations and what policy makers can do to help.

The workshop, however, is the place to really get into the weeds on how change is reshaping everything from daily operations to long-term planning. If you are worrying about depreciating assets or new net-zero developments in your territory, this is the place to talk about it. If you wonder what kind of skills your employees will need to manage the new environment, suggest that topic. If you are trying to figure out how to work with customers who want to install energy storage batteries on their homes or businesses, the workshop offers the chance to learn from others. And that only scratches the surface.

You don’t have to be attending the Utility Energy Forum, May 3-5, to vote in the survey. All utility professionals and government representatives can contribute their valuable and much-needed perspective. For those who miss the event, Energy Services Bulletin will be reporting on the big stories, and speaker presentations will be posted on the website.

But there is nothing like a face-to-face conversation with your colleagues to get the wheels turning. We hope you will join us at the Hilton Sonoma in Santa Rosa, California, to share ideas, discuss solutions and think about where you—and our industry—are going.

Residential Program Solution Center seeks input from users

Whether you are serving a new market or adding new energy-efficiency services to your portfolio, the Solution Center has the information you need to get started.
Whether you are serving a new market or adding new energy-efficiency services to your portfolio, the Solution Center has the information you need to get started. (Artwork by DOE Better Buildings Initiative)

The Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking volunteers to share their thoughts and experiences using the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center.

Launched in 2014, the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is a repository for key lessons, resources and knowledge about the planning, operation and evaluation of residential energy-efficiency programs.

DOE is convening a focus group of Solution Center users this August to collect thoughts, opinions and experiences using it. This information will be used to guide improvements to the resources. Our goal is to make the Solution Center the primary online resource that residential energy-efficiency program administrators turn to for program implementation insights, solutions and ideas. This focus group is an excellent opportunity for power providers to share their insights on how to make the Solution Center a more effective tool for utility program managers.

If you are interested in participating in this focus group, please email the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center team by Wednesday, July 13, with the following information:

  • Your first and last name
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Organization
  • Title/role

The program is specifically seeking volunteers who:

  • Are aware of the Solution Center’s content and organization
  •  Have used the Solution Center to look for something to help their program
  • Serve as a program administrator or are in a decision-making role for a residential energy-efficiency program

DOE plans to convene the focus group the week of August 15 via a conference call. The time commitment of participants will be approximately one hour. Energy Services is interested in hearing about WAPA customers’ experiences with the Solution Center as well. Contact the Energy Services Bulletin editor if you would like to share your story.

Source: DOE Better Buildings Initiative, 6/27/16

Have your say: Suggest topics for Pre-forum Workshop at Utility Energy Forum

May 13-15, 2015
Tahoe City, Calif.

The 35th annual Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. is just around the corner and there is still time to shape the agenda.uef

What’s on your mind?
The program planning committee is accepting topic suggestions for the Pre-Forum Workshop for utility and government employees. The session is a roundtable discussion where power providers and government representatives can talk candidly about the issues that concern them most.

Community solar, distributed generation, net metering, new utility business models, partnering to stay in the game and microgrids are just few of the subjects that might be on attendees’ radar. But don’t stop there—this is your chance to learn from colleagues who wrestle with the same demons, and to take home new solutions, and possibly, new partners.

Paul Reid of Azusa Light and Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Ron Horstman, Western’s Energy Services Manager, are co-chairing the workshop. No topic is off limits, no idea too “out there,” for these UEF veterans, so expect a no-holds-barred session that will rock a few boats.

Use this online survey You are leaving WAPA.gov. to share what is keeping you up at night. Remember, participation in the Pre-Forum Workshop is limited to utility and government employees. Speak your mind, and complete the survey by Feb. 5.

And that ain’t all…
Of course, the Pre-Forum Workshop is only the appetizer for the information banquet that is the Utility Energy Forum. Utility managers and marketers, energy manager and program developers and customer service professional return to the forum year after year to stay current on the latest trends in the energy utility industry.UEFbot

This year’s theme, Transformation is NOW, will weave through sessions that challenge traditional thinking and encourage participants to find innovative ways to cope with the rapidly changing energy utility industry. If you have never attended the UEF, this is a good year to start, and if you are planning to attend, register today. Early bird discounts end March 14.

As if outstanding professional development and networking opportunities were not enough reason to attend, Lake Tahoe is beautiful in May and registration includes all (terrific) meals, as well as lodging at Granlibakken Resort You are leaving WAPA.gov..

Share your concerns today, and then join other utility and government employees to brainstorm the answers May 13-15. See you in Granlibakken.

Report: Utility-contractor partnerships affect success of energy-efficiency programs

Fast Water Heater CompanyRedirecting to a non-government site has released a white paper suggesting that utility energy-efficiency programs built around strong cooperation between contractors and the power provider are likely to get more customer participation.

Approaches on Utility-Contractor Partnerships compared the experiences of two utilities marketing very similar rebates for an almost identical product over a similar time period. The major difference between the programs was the level of contractor engagement and accountability—and the results. A large utility serving 5 million customers used a conventional, partner-neutral business model with minimal contractor evaluation. The second utility, with 700,000 customers, actively collaborated with approved contractors on program promotion and follow-through.

The results, summarized in an article in Intelligent UtilityRedirecting to a non-government site, were strikingly different. The utility using the partnership model achieved a 63-percent penetration rate, in contrast to the 8-percent penetration rate of the program relying on the traditional approach.

The effect that the difference in the size of the utilities might have had on the results does not get much attention in the article, but may be explored in more depth in the report. Also, the report doesn’t state whether the utilities are investor-owned or public power, which might reflect on the pre-existing relationships with their customers. Even so, the correlation between the partnership model and program success is worth noting.

The author, who is the CEO of Fast Water Heater subsidiary Demand Management Installation Services, addresses some of the reasons utilities prefer contractor neutrality, offering credible arguments for a more hands-on approach to energy-efficiency programs.

Studies like Approaches on Utility-Contractor Partnerships will be the focus of the Smart Cities conferenceRedirecting to a non-government site, Nov. 3-5, in San Diego, California. Innovative utilities and industry leaders will be presenting case studies and hosting discussions on the future of the energy and water efficiency as well as municipal-level sustainability programs.

Join the crowd at Utility Energy Forum

May 14-16
Tahoe City, Calif.

Judging from this year’s high registration numbers, the 34th Utility Energy ForumRedirecting to a non-government site is going to be a great place to meet and network with your colleagues from other western utilities and trade allies. 

Attendees at the 2013 Utility Energy Forum listen to a five-minute presentation during the Utility Program Stand-Up Challenge and Ice Cream Social. (Photo by RLMartin)
Attendees at the 2013 Utility Energy Forum listen to a five-minute presentation during the Utility Program Stand-Up Challenge and Ice Cream Social. (Photo by RLMartin)

Utility professionals in marketing, planning, energy services and customer service will gather at Granlibakken Conference Center May 14-16, to explore strategies for creating successful load management programs.

Several Western customers are not only attending, they are also sponsoring the event. You will have the opportunity to learn how Riverside Public Utility, Roseville Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility and others are leveraging consumer interest in energy efficiency and renewable energy to respond to our rapidly changing industry. Exhibitors from energy services and technology companies will introduce you to products and programs that can help your utility achieve its energy management goals.

The agenda is set up to examine how legislation and policy, customer demands and expectations and technology advancements affect utility programs and operations. Western Administrator Mark Gabriel will deliver the opening keynote address. Speakers from government facilities and agencies, energy consulting firms, universities, businesses and nonprofit groups will provide insights from their unique perspectives.

Low-key, informal networking opportunities set the forum apart from other industry events, and there are plenty on offer. In addition to leisurely snack breaks and meals, attendees can network around the campfire or learn about utility-sponsored programs, speed-dating style—with ice cream. Cement new professional relationships at the ever-popular “Any Port in a Storm” port wine tasting, with live music.

The registration fee of $795 for utility and government professionals covers two nights of standard lodging, all meals and receptions. Upgrades are available if you want to bring a friend and stay an extra day to enjoy springtime in beautiful Lake Tahoe.

The Utility Energy Forum is an excellent investment in professional development for utility program managers. The things you learn, the people you meet and the ideas you hatch will pay off all year around.

DOE to fund utility projects for solar planning, research, training

Working with the Solar Electric Power Association Redirecting to a non-government site (SEPA) and other organizations, the Energy Department (DOE) this week released two Funding of Opportunity Announcements (FOA) related to utilities.

Solar Utility Networks: Replicable Innovations in Solar Energy (SUNRISE) is being issued by DOE to solicit applications for two topic areas. Topic A focuses on enabling utilities to develop long-term strategic plans for integrating high levels of renewable energy generation and ensuring that power systems operate reliably in real time under high renewable penetration. Topic B aims to provide technical assistance for building capacity through utility-scale photovoltaic planning and installation. 

DOE’s express purpose in issuing this FOA is to demonstrate cost-effective and reliable solar integration in real time, at utility-scale, in successful utility business models. DOE anticipates providing up to $12 Million through this FOA, for projects two to four years long, depending on the topic area. Awardees must share project costs. This FOA is part of the DOE SunShot Initiative.

SUNRISE deadlines:

  • Concept papers due: March 8, 2013
  • Expected date for response to concept papers: March 20, 2013
  • Deadline for questions: April 21, 2013
  • Full applications due: April 24, 2013

The second FOA, Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) seeks applications to increase power system research, development and analytical capacity. Projects should also be designed to prepare electric utility professionals to manage high penetrations of solar and other distributed energy technologies. To achieve these dual goals, GEARED will support two activities:

  • Training consortia focused on quickly bringing their findings into training and educational initiatives
  • A national coordination network that will link these consortia to one another and other relevant power system research and development and training activities

Increasing the power systems capabilities and talent pool promotes electric grid security, as well as environmental and economic benefits for all consumers. The GEARED FOA provides funding to support creating three to five regional consortia that work with universities and utilities to incorporate power systems analysis, research and development into curricula and short courses, cooperative internships and continuing education. GEARED will also support the creation of a national training network for distributed power system professionals. The FOA does not apply to undergraduate or graduate fellowships.

GEARED deadlines:

  • Concept papers due: April 12, 2013; 5 p.m. EST
  • Deadline for questions: April 16, 2013; 5 p.m. EST
  • Full applications due: April 19, 2013; 5 p.m. EST

Some of the topic areas are seeking utility applicants, while others are seeking utility groups or other types of entities.  SEPA member utilities that wish to apply directly or would like to apply in partnership with SEPA should contact SEPA President Julia Hamm at 202-559-2025 as soon as possible.

DOE awards NRECA Cooperative Research Network funding for solar project

The Cooperative Research Network Redirecting to a non-government site (CRN), the research arm of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), is receiving $2.1 million of a $9 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to the North Carolina State University FREEDM Systems Center Redirecting to a non-government site to develop a “plug and play” photovoltaic (PV) system.

CRN’s role in the project will be to coordinate demonstrations with at least two cooperatives to evaluate the PV systems and test the utility interconnection. In addition to assisting in the design of the project, CRN will also ensure the standards comply with the MultiSpeak specification, the de facto common interface model electric utilities use worldwide.

NRECA Research, Engineering & Technical Services Vice President John Hewa said, “CRN will be focusing on the integration of residential level solar resources on reliability and developing a system that works for both the consumer and the utility, simplifying the installation process without compromising safety or electric reliability.”

More than a dozen cooperatives across the country are developing community solar farms to meet the growing demand from consumer members for solar energy systems. This project will enable cooperatives to offer members more simple, safe and reliable options to add their own renewable energy generators.

The grant is part of DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which seeks to make solar energy cost-competitive with other sources of energy by 2020.

The Cooperative Research Network conducts original, collaborative research for the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives.

Geothermal heat pump webinar series begins in January

Start the New Year by broadening your knowledge about an energy-efficient heating and cooling strategy that can help you meet load management goals and increase customer satisfaction. The Colorado Geo-energy and Heat Pump Association Redirecting to a non-government site (CoGEHPA) is offering three webinars on geothermal heat pump (GHP) technology.

Here’s the lineup:

The first webinar focuses on working with Colorado’s primary power provider, but utility and HVAC professionals all over the country will benefit from the two February events.

The registration fee is $25 per webinar, or free to CoGEHPA members.

Free webinar focuses on infrared camera uses

October 16
12 noon CDT

Clean Energy Ambassadors continues its Lunchtime Webinar Series with Infrared Cameras: Strengthen Your Utility’s Energy Efficiency and Auditing Programs Redirecting to a non-government site.

It is no secret that we at Energy Services are great believers in the value of this tool to utilities. Infrared cameras can help detect line loss and substation malfunctions, and they play an important role in successful home energy audit programs. Gary Hoffmann of Western’s Equipment Loan Program will join camera manufacturers to discuss how IR technologies can improve your operations and customer service. You’ll also find out about opportunities to for Clean Energy Ambassadors IR workshops in your area.

Register for this free event today. Please contact Stevie Moe at 406-969-1040 if you have any questions.

Join Clean Energy Ambassadors Redirecting to a non-government site on the third Tuesday of each month for candid, informal discussions on the needs of consumer-owned utilities. Webinars are held from 12-1 p.m. Central time (11 a.m.-12 p.m. Mountain).

SEPA offers scholarships for utilities to attend annual conference

Utility professionals who need to brush up on the solar industry, but just don’t have the travel budget, may be eligible for a scholarship to Solar Power International Redirecting to a non-government site (SPI), Sept. 10 to13 in Orlando, Fla.    

The Solar Electric Power Association Redirecting to a non-government site (SEPA) is offering a limited number of scholarships Redirecting to a non-government site for utility employees to attend this business-to-business solar conference and trade show. This event brings together the solar industry to build and advance important business relationships, stay current on industry developments and find new solutions.

Conference registration will include attendance at all conference sessions and idea swaps, as well as Tuesday’s block party at Hard Rock Live and Café. In addition, join utility peers as they discuss solar successes and challenges at SEPA’s exclusive utility events, which include a breakfast with the regional directors and a utility-only networking reception.

Scholarship recipients will receive a complimentary full conference registration, valued up to $1,095, plus a stipend of up to $1,000 for coach airfare and hotel accommodations. SEPA intends the scholarships to encourage attendance of utility executives who would not otherwise be able to attend SPI due to budgetary and/or travel restrictions. No other obligations apply.

Completed applications must be submitted by June 15, 2012. Contact Jessica Sliva with questions about the scholarship program. To learn more about the conference, watch SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm address Redirecting to a non-government site the SPI 2011 conference body on SEPA’s YouTube channel.