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Utilities Connect at Efficiency Exchange

by Staff
BPA Journal, June 2014

After hydropower, energy efficiency is the Northwest's next-largest power resource.
Since 1980, more than half of the region's demand for electricity has been met with energy efficiency.

Map: Energy efficiency scorecard by state for 2013 Energy-saving programs, technologies and current trends were some of the topics discussed among the nearly 500 attendees at the Efficiency Exchange, May 6-8, in Kennewick, Wash.

Co-hosted by BPA and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, the annual conference provides a forum for staff from electric utilities throughout the Northwest, as well as implementers, consultants, researchers, vendors and industry partners, to exchange energy efficiency experiences and learn about the latest energy-saving innovations and programs. The Northwest Power and Conservation Council sponsored this year's event.

Now in its second year, the Efficiency Exchange has quickly become the biggest energy efficiency event in the region.

"This is the preeminent EE event in the Northwest, if not the nation," said Ross Holter, energy services supervisor at Flathead Electric Cooperative, based in Kalispell, Mont.

"The content is spot on. It's really a no-brainer for us to attend."

Richard Genece, BPA's vice president of Energy Efficiency, said the conference exemplifies the spirit that the Northwest's legacy of energy efficiency is built on.

"Collaboration is a cornerstone of our rich ecosystem of energy efficiency," he observed. "And the Efficiency Exchange is a great venue for us in the industry to learn from one another and continue to embrace that spirit of partnership."

Session topics included the future of energy efficiency acquisition, industrial energy management, demand response, smart grid, smart thermostats and new technologies in the agricultural sector.

Rob Currier, energy analyst at Emerald People's Utility District of Eugene, Ore., said the PUD improved its incentives after hearing first-hand success stories from other utilities. "We picked up heat pump water heaters and tweaked and improved our offerings after last year's conference," Currier said.

One of the highlights was the keynote speaker, Dr. Greg LaBlanc of the University of California at Berkeley, who discussed how utility customers weigh costs versus rewards, and the implications those behaviors have on developing incentive programs. LaBlanc pointed out that the social influence of doing the right thing often outweighs financial incentives such as rebates. "We see a lot of conspicuous consumption, where people want to be seen doing something," he said. "And if everyone's doing it, we don't want to be left behind."

After hydropower, energy efficiency is the Northwest's next-largest power resource. Since 1980, more than half of the region's demand for electricity has been met with energy efficiency. In that time, BPA, NEEA and Northwest electric utilities have collaboratively saved more than 5 average gigawatts of energy in all sectors of the economy, including nearly 60 average megawatts in fiscal year 2013. That is enough energy to power the city of Seattle more than four times over for an entire year, or about $3.2 billion in reduced electric bills for the people of the Northwest. The region's energy conservation goals are set by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, which includes two Council members from each of the four Northwest states -- Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington -- who serve by appointment from their governors.

Utilities Connect at Efficiency Exchange
BPA Journal, June 2014

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