1) Oregon Restructures with Public-Purposes Funding
2) Regional Technical Forum Officially in Operation
3) UW Lighting Retrofits Make a Visible Difference
4) Sustainable School Design Benefits Educational Mission
5) Green Power Finds a Market in Green Eugene
6) Portland General Explores Grid-Connected Solar PV
7) Ashland Solar Project Wins First BEF Renewable Energy Grant
8) Oregon Legislation Allows Net Metering for Renewables
9) Regional Opinions Generally Favorable on Alliance
10) BRIEFS: Architecture + Energy Awards; WSU Energy Program Contract; Building Operators Certification Level II; REI Top 10;
The Oregon Legislature has passed an electric utility restructuring bill that ties access to the open power market with public-purposes funding, and Gov. John Kitzhaber has signed the measure into law.
Senate Bill 1149 passed July 9 and was signed by Kitzhaber July 23. The legislation provides direct access to industrial and commercial customers of investor-owned utilities no later than Oct. 1, 2001, and portfolio choices for residential customers by the same date. Consumer-owned utilities can decide whether to allow direct access, and all utilities that move to open access will collect a public-purposes charge equivalent to 3 percent of revenues.
While SB 1149 allows large industrial and commercial IOU customers open access by 2001, it directs the Oregon Public Utility Commission to report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2003 on whether residential consumers would benefit from direct access. In the interim, IOU residential customers can purchase electricity from a portfolio of rate options--available on the same date the larger customers get open access--that will include a cost-of-service rate, a new renewable resource rate and a market-based rate.
"We think we've learned from other states that have restructured that while it may be true the market is developed enough for commercial and industrial customers, it's not developed enough for residential," said Rachel Shimshak of Renewable Northwest Project, one of the public-interest groups involved in a coalition supporting the bill. "So they remain regulated, but still have access to Bonneville [Power Administration] power, which we thought was important."
Bob Jenks of the Oregon Citizens Utility Board said the bill "sets up a different [restructuring] model than any other state," and called it a "breakthrough on how a low-cost state" restructures. It protects residential customers, Jenks said, but breaks past the current industry stagnation caused by uncertainty over restructuring. "It gets us on the road forward again."
The legislation sets a public-purposes charge equal to 3 percent of the total revenues the IOU collects from retail electricity consumers for "electricity services, distribution, ancillary services, metering and billing, transition charges and other types of costs included in electric rates on the effective date" of the act. Sixty-three percent of the funds collected are to be allocated to new cost-effective conservation and market transformation; 19 percent for the "above-market costs of new renewable energy resources;" 13 percent for new low-income weatherization; and 5 percent for construction of low-income housing.
However, the first 10 percent of public-purposes funds collected each year automatically goes to education service districts, for energy audits of school districts within the utility's service area. Once a service district has performed audits on all facilities within a school district, it can use the money for weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades, energy conservation education programs, and purchasing electricity from "environmentally focused sources and investing in renewable energy resources."
The OPUC is to establish rules to implement the public-purposes provisions of the legislation. At least 80 percent of the conservation dollars must be spent within the service area of the utility collecting the funds. As in earlier versions of the bill, industrial customers can receive credits against public-purpose billings for on-site conservation activities and purchases of above-market-price renewable resources. And if an independent audit determines there are no conservation improvements available with a simple payback of 10 years or less, the customer can opt out of 54 percent of its public-purposes payment obligation for that site.
At the same time, the proposal ensures that both aluminum companies in Oregon--the Reynolds Metals plant near Troutdale and Northwest Aluminum in The Dalles--pay the same public-purposes fee: 1 percent of total revenue for the sale of electricity services to the plants, from any source. Reynolds Metals--a BPA direct-service customer--was concerned that Northwest Aluminum, a customer of Northern Wasco PUD, would not have had to pay the public-purposes charge, thus creating a competitive imbalance.
In addition to the 3 percent public-purposes charge, IOUs will also be collecting funds for low-income bill assistance. The total to be collected under the bill is $10 million; the OPUC is to determine each utility's proportionate share of the total amount, and customer contributions are limited to $500 per site. This money kicks in when direct access is offered, but funds will also be collected beforehand: starting Jan. 1, 2000, and until direct access is offered, utilities are to contribute $5 million annually for low-income bill assistance. The same $500-per-site limit is set for large customers.
SB 1149 also indicates none of these changes will take place until the OPUC determines implementation of open access will not have "a material adverse impact" on an IOU's ability to access cost-based BPA power for its residential and small farm customers. And to preserve such benefits, the PUC can require an IOU to enter into contracts with BPA to secure them.
While some legislators were concerned the 3 percent public-purposes charge would increase rates, Pamela Lesh, PGE vice president of rates and regulatory affairs, disagreed. She pointed out that conservation costs now included in PGE's rates will be removed when the public-purposes charge is instituted.
Consumer-owned utilities receive separate treatment under SB 1149. Essentially, their governing boards will decide whether--and under what terms and conditions--their customer classes move to the market. These boards also have the authority to determine whether and on what basis to levy a transition charge to recover stranded costs, including those that might be incurred for purchasing BPA power.
"We're pleased the Legislature did a separate path for us and recognizes the uniqueness of public power," said Diane Cowan, executive director of the Oregon PUD Association. She added that the consumer-owned utilities had insisted from the outset on a separate path. She hopes this approach, rather than a simple opt-in/opt-out approach, becomes a model for other states pursuing restructuring.
To the extent consumer-owned utilities allow direct access, they are also obligated to collect public-purpose fees from participating customer classes. As with the IOUs, the charges can be collected for only 10 years and represent 3 percent of total revenues--except consumer-owned utilities can include funds spent on existing energy conservation, renewable and low-income programs adopted under federal environmental law or through agreements with BPA under the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act.
As in the IOU provisions, large customers of consumer-owned utilities that elect to provide open access can receive a credit against the utilities' public-purposes charge for on-site conservation activities and purchases of above-market renewable resources.
The bill also requires consumer-owned utilities to have a low-income bill payment assistance program, but does not set specific amounts to be collected.--Jude Noland
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The Regional Technical Forum, charged with bringing a degree of technical standardization, tracking and guidance to Northwest energy conservation and renewable energy pursuits, is officially in operation.
The RTF held its first meeting July 13 in Portland, about two weeks after the Northwest Power Planning Council approved the forum's charter and membership. In April, the Council endorsed the RTF's formation as an advisory committee to the Council (see Con.WEB, April 30, 1999).
Advocated by Congress as well as the Regional Review, the RTF is chartered by the NWPPC to develop standard protocols to verify and evaluate energy savings and renewable resources; follow regional progress toward conservation and renewable goals; and provide suggestions for improvements. It will also assist in Bonneville Power Administration's planned conservation/renewables wholesale rate discount.
Introducing the RTF
The RTF's inaugural meeting was essentially introductory. "We went through an organizational shakedown, introduced the members, and described what the task before us was," according to NWPPC's Tom Eckman, who serves as RTF chair. "We laid out a game plan for how to deal with the work and discussed some of the techie issues we'll wrestle with. As a kickoff meeting, it went just fine."
The RTF has 17 members, drawn from Northwest utilities, state regulatory agencies, government energy offices, trade groups and the private sector. They were selected, according to Eckman, for their "depth and breadth of expertise" in technical capacities related to conservation and renewables, such as program design and evaluation. The RTF has another 10 corresponding (and non-voting) members. "We're trying to use corresponding membership as the pool people can tap for particular expertise," said Eckman.
A top priority for the RTF will be developing a list of measures eligible for the BPA rate discount, and other services associated with the discount, such as processes for updating the list, resolving differences and tracking regionwide results. Bonneville, which will make the final decisions, wants the RTF recommendations by September 2000, a deadline Eckman believes is achievable.
In screening prospective measures for the discount list, the RTF plans to apply what Eckman called a "two-stage filtering process." The first would involve deciding whether a measure belongs; and second, whether the measure is sufficiently standard to have deemed (as opposed to site-specific) energy savings. "We're trying to get as many into the category of deemed savings as possible, so utilities have a pretty robust list to look at," he said.
One issue the RTF will tackle is cost-effectiveness of conservation measures, which Eckman noted will be applicable to the BPA rate discount as well as for utilities, regulators and public-purposes funding. Another topic will be determining baselines from which to assess energy savings. This may involve looking at energy codes, federal requirements and/or standard practices--all of which are subject to change.
Attribution of energy savings also will be considered by the RTF. This may particularly arise, Eckman said, with Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance ventures for which local utilities contribute financial incentives, marketing or other forms of support.
The forum will begin hashing out issues in earnest at its next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 14.--Mark Ohrenschall
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Things are looking better at the University of Washington--literally.
Lighting retrofits, a major feature of a recently finished comprehensive energy conservation program at the UW's main Seattle campus, have improved the way people see at the Northwest's largest educational institution.
"We have had a lot and continual comments from clients that the lighting is easier on the eyes," said Jeraldine McCray, UW assistant vice president for facilities services. The installation of approximately 270,000 new T-8 lamps with electronic ballasts has made a difference in visibility and beyond, McCray told Con.WEB. "It's not so extraordinarily bright,
|New 28-watt compact fluorescent bulbs
in ceiling fixtures light up a campus cafeteria.
photo by Mark Ohrenschall
And, she added, "It changes attitudes" among UW people. "They feel the institution cares about them as people. Their work environment is more pleasant . . . And guess what? It doesn't cost them any more to get it done."
Javad Maadanian, Seattle City Light's project manager for the UW conservation project, told of a library corner that used to serve as a sleeping area. After a lighting change, "Now people are studying there." And in a laboratory, improved lighting and ventilation has made for a "more pleasant" and safer place to work, attracting researchers to spend more time.
These are among the benefits of an extensive energy-saving initiative at the UW. The collaborative effort--involving the university, Seattle City Light, Bonneville Power Administration, the Lighting Design Lab, (the former) Washington State Energy Office and others--took most of the 1990s and resulted in total savings of nearly 48 million kilowatt-hours (about 5.5 average megawatts). It cost $12.6 million, of which the UW received $6.5 million in incentive payments from BPA and City Light. It saves the university about $1.9 million in annual electric bills, both in kilowatt-hour savings and demand reduction.
And it represents the largest conservation project in City Light history.
Official Words of Praise
Officials from the university, the city, the state and the utility gathered May 25 at the UW Faculty Club to celebrate the campuswide energy-saving project.
Seattle Mayor Paul Schell called it "a wise investment for both of us . . . We're buying power [through conservation] we'd otherwise have to go the marketplace to purchase." He described an imperative for environmental stewardship and "parsimonious" use of electricity and water resources.
State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles said she hears, too often, that public institutions fritter away money and do things wrong. "It's so delightful to hear about these types of endeavors that are done collaboratively, that make sense, that serve as an investment," she said. This project saves money for taxpayers and the university, noted state Sen. Ken Jacobsen, and also helps the environment.
It's a "great business deal," said
|Seattle City Light's Javad Maadanian (left)
and the University of Washington's John Leaden
examine new T-8 lamps with electronic
ballasts in a UW parking garage.
Photo by Mark Ohrenschall
Weldon Ihrig, UW executive vice president, called the conservation initiative "a real success." McCray later reiterated the university's satisfaction: "I hope I've conveyed our enthusiasm. It worked out really well; we're quite pleased."
How it Worked, and Why
A comprehensive campuswide conservation project at the UW had been in the planning stages since at least 1992, spearheaded by City Light's Bev Corwin and the UW's Charlie Nuss. A Conservation Monitor article from November/December 1992 outlined the inherent challenges of creating a more energy-efficient UW, including the university's sheer size and complexity and the imperative of not interrupting the essential functions of instruction, research and public service. But it also presented a tremendous opportunity for large and continuing energy savings.
Seattle City Light and the UW signed an agreement for the cost-sharing conservation program in October 1994, according to a joint press release at the time. BPA provided funding under City Light's Energy Smart Design program.
Nearly five years later, the huge UW campus is a much more efficient consumer of electricity.
City Light's Maadanian listed 219 separate and completed energy-saving projects on campus, of which 187 were installed on existing facilities and the remainder went into new buildings constructed since 1994. Roughly two-thirds of the total projects involved lighting, lamps as well as fixtures. HVAC systems, motors, elevators, compressed-air systems, chillers and energy management control systems were also part of the program. In addition, City Light helped fund design assistance for improved energy efficiency in several new buildings on campus--savings from which are not captured in the 48 million KWh total, Maadanian noted.
"Anyplace we could do kilowatt-hour savings, we did it," he said.
City Light took a fresh approach to the process of identifying and implementing energy-saving measures. It started with a 1994 feasibility study of the entire campus. Then came detailed audits of individual buildings, followed by relatively quick arrangements for installations--less than a year, typically. "One building was getting audited, one was getting installed; it was like a production line," said Maadanian.
The UW, meanwhile, found it couldn't pursue all recommended energy-saving measures. For example, McCray said, consultants thought it would be feasible to shut down buildings to install control systems to reduce air volume. "We were not allowed to do that," she reported. "Researchers can work all hours of the night and day . . . We couldn't do as much HVAC work as we originally thought, so we supplemented with more lighting projects. We just about exhausted lighting retrofits on the campus."
In addition, noted Maadanian, "One of the primary goals we had was we were not going to sacrifice any comfort or occupant environment for energy management purposes. If there was an area we couldn't improve the environment, we wouldn't touch it."
The earlier projects tended to be more cost-effective, with shorter paybacks, according to McCray. It grew harder to find those financially desirable and viable measures. Consequently the total average payback for the UW conservation project is about six years, twice the length originally anticipated.
Other Lessons: Collaborate, Communicate, Educate, Standardize
Maadanian and McCray also emphasized other lessons from the UW project. One is the value of teamwork. "It's possible to enter into a large collaborative effort with an entity that's distinctly different than yours . . . if you have common goals and people are committed and you get good leadership," said McCray.
Another value is communications.
|University of Washington's John Leaden (left)
and Seattle City Light's Javad Maadanian
stand by new HVAC controls at the UW.
Photo by Mark Ohrenschall
A majority of the installations were done by university staff, and this, according to Maadanian, served as an important training and educational opportunity for the people who actually operate the buildings.
In addition, the project has led to greater standardization of energy-related technologies at the UW, which saves money on purchasing and reduces maintenance needs.
Although this particular energy-saving contract has come to an end, the UW will continue to explore further efficiency opportunities, including at its chilled-water plant, elevators and sports pavilion. "We will be collaborating with Seattle City Light to see what the savings will be and how many cents per kilowatt-hour they'd be willing to pay us for that," said McCray.
City Light, meanwhile, has engaged in similar "tailored agreements" for conservation work with King County and Seattle Public Schools. "Those were all from learning from the university," said Maadanian. "It gives City Light, as well as the customer, flexibility. You don't have to go to a long-term process, two to three years, studying to know exactly what you want" before any installations are accomplished.--Mark Ohrenschall
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Schools can better fulfill their educational mission if they design and construct buildings on sustainability principals, including energy efficiency.
So believes Bill Dierdorff, the business manager for Oregon's North Clackamas School District, which is planning a new high school featuring natural ventilation, abundant daylighting, extensive resource efficiencies and other elements of a light environmental footprint. The new school is expected to exceed Oregon's energy code requirements by at least 44 percent.
"It is not our goal to be a green building," Dierdorff said. "It is not our goal to be an energy-efficient building. Our goal is to be an educational facility and be the best educational facility we can be. Green buildings, energy-efficient buildings, are strategies to reach that goal." If classrooms are too hot or too cold, or if fans or ballasts are humming, Dierdorf said, the learning environment is diminished. And money unnecessarily spent on energy means less money for education.
Dierdorff spoke at an April forum near Portland titled "Sustainable and Healthy School Design," sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the Association of Professional Energy Managers.
The timing is outstanding, as Oregonians last November passed more than $400 million worth of school bond funding, said APEM's Amy Joslin in introductory remarks. This represents "a tremendous opportunity for sustainable building design in our schools to last beyond our generation." The North Clackamas High School, in fact, should last 100 or even more years, according to architect Heinz Rudolf of BOORA Architects.
In that context sustainably built schools offer immense long-term advantages--as well as initial challenges.
The forum's first speaker, consultant Tom Paladino of Seattle, defined sustainable building design as seeking to maximize human quality of life while minimizing environmental impacts. He outlined the many benefits of green design--environmental (including resource efficiency, habitat preservation, reduced pollution), economic (lower operating costs, greater worker productivity) and human health (better indoor air quality)--and noted that environmental pressures are influencing more demand, regulation and services for sustainable building.
Paladino encouraged a whole-systems approach to sustainable design, incorporating site preservation, energy efficiency, resource and material conservation, indoor environmental quality and safeguarding water. The green-design process should be interdisciplinary and integrated, with clear goals established early. And the advantages of going green need to be analyzed and expressed: "If you can't produce benefits and show your clients and your funding sources there are some economic benefits, often those features fall off a project," he said. The typically higher initial costs of green building can be "scary for clients," he acknowledged, but the result is a higher quality building.
And, not least, it's important to ensure green-building measures are implemented. Paladino shared the example of a Seattle project in which design specifications for an exterior grill used by window cleaners were initially not followed during construction, nearly sabotaging the interior daylighting element. "It's very important to have the concept identified and the details preserved," he said.
Paladino cited a number of specific sustainable design strategies, such as passive ventilation, exterior open space buffers, water runoff capture, and composting toilets. He also advocated incorporating green-building features into school curricula: "Why not marry the two up in a way that informs the students?"
Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
Charles Eley, of the San Francisco-based architectural and engineering consulting firm Eley Associates, emphasized the role of energy efficiency, which he called "one of the most important features about green-building design." It accounts for nearly one-fourth of the rating criteria for green building established by the U.S. Green Building Council--more than any other single factor. "Energy analysis tools are very well developed," he noted. "Other green [building] characteristics are far less mature. We're working to expand the capability of energy analysis, quantitative analysis, to the impact of some of these other issues," such as embodied energy used in the building process.
Eley also underscored the importance of integrated design in creating sustainable buildings. "It's possible to spend a little bit more money and attention to lighting design and envelope design and often these initial costs can be offset by downsizing the HVAC system in accordance with these reduced loads. Often through integrated design it's possible to reduce the first cost of a building," he said. At the same time, he quickly added, mechanical engineering fees shouldn't automaticallly be reduced accordingly. "Intelligent design that results in smaller and less costly mechanical systems may require more engineering time and smarter people. One thing we're investing in through integrated design is more attention to the design process." He mentioned performance contracting, in which building designers get a financial reward for meeting energy targets and, in some cases with design/build projects, receive a penalty if they fall short.
On HVAC design specifics, Eley advocated chilled-water systems over the more common rooftop units--"They add one to two dollars a square foot to the building cost, but they're more energy-efficient and have a longer useful life and reduce annual cost as much as 22 cents per square foot." They also can be tailored to a particular climate.
Windows also make a big difference in energy-efficient and sustainable building design, Eley noted. "The energy-efficiency expert sees windows as both friend and foe." They provide passive solar heating, natural ventilation and daylighting, but solar gain through windows is a large contributor to a building's cooling needs. The optimum window area on a building is dynamic and dependent on many variables. Eley mentioned lower-tech approaches (deciduous trees, whitewashed skylights) and higher-tech strategies (electrochromic glazing, mechanical skylights controlled by photocells).
Daylight inside buildings provides many benefits, according to Barbara Erwine of the Lighting Design Lab. "It connects us with nature, renders color very well, saves significant energy"--up to 50 percent or more of lighting energy. Simple paybacks range from one to three years for most daylighting strategies, she said. Daylighting can shrink heating/cooling loads, too.
"There are a lot of [lighting] issues in schools," said Erwine. "It's not just delivering 30 to 50 footcandles on a desk," but paying attention to productivity and even health issues: lamp flickering, she said, "has been implicated in attention deficit disorder."
Among the considerations in effective daylighting are window type (low-emissivity is desirable), placement of windows and light shelves, and control of glare. Bringing in light from ceilings--known as toplighting--can be especially suitable for schools.
North Clackamas High School: Long-Term View, Teamwork
The planned new North Clackamas High School near Portland serves as a model for sustainable and resource-efficient school facilities--at least in design (it isn't scheduled for completion until 2001).
A range of strategies are planned for the 250,000-square-foot complex on 41.6 acres, designed to serve 1,800 students. Far-reaching daylighting is one major sustainable design feature, the product of extensive modeling and studies. Another is natural ventilation (with a backup mechanical system) for most of the complex. These two aspects will help the building surpass the state's energy efficiency requirements by at least 44 percent, according to Rudolf of BOORA Architects. "The building, if managed right and people are careful, could manage itself from a lighting standpoint as well as a ventilation standpoint," he told the forum.
Other planned sustainable elements include a water retention pond for on-site irrigation, power to the parking lot in anticipation of electric vehicle charging someday and "environmentally appropriate landscaping."
Long-term vision and a sense of teamwork underlie the sustainable design of North Clackamas High.
With an anticipated lifetime of a century or even more, "It's an incredible investment by the community and by the taxpayers," said the architect. The expected duration of the building increases the importance of operating costs, such as maintenance and energy. "If we're going to be in that building for 100 years or more, and save half the energy over that period of time, that's a great payback; that's incredible," said Dierdorff, advocating long-term economic considerations.
He and Rudolf also emphasized the need for collaboration among building owners and designers. Dierdorff listed some of the participants for this particular project: Rocky Mountain Institute, The Energy Foundation, Eley Associates, Portland General Electric, the Lighting Design Lab and Oregon Office of Energy. "All those people were more than willing to help us with some financial and time commitments. We were able to do some intense planning on energy in this building,"--helped, paradoxically, by earlier failures of bond-issue votes to finance the new school. The North Clackamas High design also offers what Rudolf described as "performance-based compensation for exceptional energy efficiency," which takes more work to design.--Mark Ohrenschall
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Green power is finding a market in green Eugene.
Nearly 3 percent of Eugene Water & Electric Board's 66,600 residential customers have agreed to pay a premium for Wyoming wind-generated electricity in the first three months since EWEB launched its retail green power program. These customers also have bought greater amounts of wind energy than anticipated by utility officials.
"It's been pretty pleasing so far," said EWEB's Mat Northway.
As of July 17, he told Con.WEB, 1,867 EWEB customers have signed up to (figuratively) purchase a percentage of their monthly electricity from the wind. A slight
|Wind turbines fan out on Foote Creek Rim.
Photo courtesy of Eugene Water & Electric Board
"We had started off thinking that 80 percent of [participating] customers would be picking 10 percent and maybe 20 percent would choose the others," said Northway. "It's been just about 50-50. It's really been quite encouraging."
These initial sales amount to one-fourth of EWEB's expected allotment of about 24 million KWh annually from the Wyoming wind project, of which it owns about 20 percent and PacifiCorp the remainder. "We were hoping to sell out in two years," said Northway. "It looks like at the rate we're going we'll beat that . . . A lot will have to do with how popular it is with business customers."
After first targeting residential customers--"We wanted to build ourselves a market base," according to Northway--EWEB now plans to pitch wind power to the 4,500 businesses it serves. A direct-mail piece to commercial and industrial customers will be sent later this summer. Oregon's largest publicly owned utility thinks local businesses will take note that nearly 2,000 local households have already selected wind-generated power--a potential like-minded market. "We're hoping it will actually provide for those [participating] business customers . . . a marketing outreach and communications outreach advantage," Northway said.
EWEB commercial and industrial customers, as with residential, can choose to buy wind energy in blocks of 10, 25, 50 or 100 percent of their monthly bills. Should a single very large business opt for 100-percent wind, Northway noted, EWEB could sell out its entire allotment. "The likelihood of that happening is pretty slim," he acknowledged, "but we might get a couple at 10 percent."
Marketing The Wind
EWEB has taken a low-key approach to marketing its wind power, eschewing television and radio advertising. "We're trying to do this on the cheap, to see exactly what we could get with the natural attractiveness" of renewable energy, according to Northway.
The utility did some local wind energy promotions around Earth Day, when the program started, along with newspaper ads and bill stuffers. After the bill stuffers went in the mail EWEB received a "very heavy response"sometimes exceeing 100 enrollees a day. That has since dropped, to about 100 in the past month, according to Northway. "We're trying to put together a second bill stuffer" to stimulate demand, particularly among those who may only need a reminder to sign up for wind power.
Participating customers, it appears, generally have lower-than-average electric consumption. "It is an issue of affordability," said Northway, although he added "quite a few people" with high bills, in the range of $200 a month, have chosen 100-percent wind.
EWEB also has found considerable understanding and acceptance of wind energy. "The first hurdle was convincing people wind power makes good sense, that it's not a spacey, unproven technology," said Northway. "For the most part I'd say our customers have already moved beyond that. Based on their own personal experience they've determined wind power is a legitimate, modern, reliable technology and they've been waiting for somebody to offer it."
Purchasing wind energy also reflects personal values, he believes, since Eugenians aren't directly getting Wyoming wind-generated electrons. "There really isn't any attribute that this provides that is a direct benefit to the occupant of a house or a user of electricity. It's not price-stable; it's not cheaper; it's not more reliable energy. The only thing it really is, is their ability to spend more money and know that it's going to a kind of [energy] generation they prefer."
PacifiCorp also intends to offer retail green power from Whyoming Wind but details are still under consideration, according to PacifiCorp project manager Gail Miller.
Wyoming Wind Dedication
The 41.4-megawatt-capacity Wyoming Wind Energy Project began commercial operations in April (see Con.WEB, April 30, 1999 for more details), and an official dedication ceremony took place July 16. It attracted several hundred people, according to Northway and Rachel Shimshak of Renewable Northwest Project.
"We have been working with the project sponsors through all of the issues for . . . five years," said Shimshak. "It is really exciting to actually see the project operating."
|A Whyoming wind turbine dwarfs visitors
Photo courtesy of Eugene Water & Electric Board
In addition, Bonneville Power Administration is purchasing energy from three more Wyoming wind turbines, totalling 1.8 MW of capacity, installed by developer SeaWest WindPower, according to a BPA news release. BPA also is buying more than one-third of the output from the the PacifiCorp/EWEB wind farm on Foote Creek Rim, and selling the power to Salem Electric.
In another wind-energy development with potential implications for the Northwest, U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson in June announced a new federal initiative, Wind Powering America, which has a goal for wind energy to supply at least 5 percent of the nation's electric needs by 2020. Richardson also announced about $1.2 million in small wind turbine field verification grants, including one of up to $119,008 in federal monies for construction of a four-turbine wind farm by the Siyeh Development Corp, affiliated with the Blackfeet Indian Tribe and based in Browning, MT. The wind energy will help power aeration equipment for Browning's wastewater treatment facility, according to a DOE news release.--Mark Ohrenschall
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Portland General Electric is testing grid-connected solar photovoltaic energy in a seemingly unlikely place: Portland.
The Rose City, known for its mild but not particularly sunny climate, hosts four PV demonstration sites installed by PGE in the past couple of years. PGE's primary interest is learning how PV works in practice--and looking ahead to a future in which solar energy promises to be more cost-effective and common.
"You want to explore it for no other reason than you think this is coming around the corner, slower or faster depending on your viewpoint," said PGE environmental affairs director Wayne Lei.
The four Portland demonstration sites--three on commercial buildings and one on a single-family home--do not produce cost-effective energy. Lei estimates the cost per watt of the PV systems is roughly $10, compared to about $1 per watt for power from an advanced gas-fired turbine. Still, he noted, that represents a huge relative price drop for solar, which 30 years ago cost in the neighborhood of $300 per watt. "Things have improved considerably over several decades, to a point now where we can legitimately start thinking about seeing these things at places like Home Depot . . . To put up a whole bunch and compete against a gas turbine would probably be difficult, but that doesn't prevent a distributed application from happening."
PGE plans to focus its solar initiatives on the small scale, which Lei believes has a bright future. "I think the marketplace is ready for it . . . America has a tremendous number of do-it-yourself type people." PV systems have no moving parts, and can be hooked up with relative ease. Lei believes the price will continue to drop.
His investor-owned utility eventually expects to become essentially an energy distributor, so Lei said it has an interest in "anything that attaches to the grid." Portland General is "exploring ideas" about business opportunities for PV and, although it hasn't reached any conclusions, it definitely foresees a market.
Solar in Portland
Although Portland may seem a questionable locale for producing electricity directly from the sun, it actually has a decent solar resource, according to PGE solar consultant Doug Boleyn. "We always get blackballed for solar stuff," he acknowledged. But an average daily solar radiation map produced by Home Power magazine with information from National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows Portland is equivalent to much of the East and Midwest, although unsurprisingly it gets less than the desert Southwest.
|PGE solar consultant Doug Boleyn inspects
a solar photovoltaic installation at a Portland business.
Photo by Mark Ohrenschall
Portland PV Systems
About two years ago, Boleyn, then a PGE employee, came into Lei's office with a brochure advertising a grid-connected PV panel. Lei recalled he was "very impressed" with such features as an inverter, power synchronizer and electronic capabilities. "Within an hour we sat down and designed a demonstration program," he said.
As an electric utility PGE had many questions about grid-tied PV, concerning such issues as safety, interconnections, impacts on the PGE system, structural loads for rooftop units, local codes and more. "We thought we'd better start fooling around with it a little bit to see what their performance was like," Lei said.
Each of the four PV locations is a bit different.
The largest is found atop The Nature Conservancy of Oregon's three-story office building in east Portland. Capable of producing 4 kilowatts, this is believed by Boleyn to be the largest PV application in western Oregon. It features 120 self-contained amorphous silicon modules made by Solarex, divided into two separate 15-panel arrays mounted flat atop the building's roof and connected to power inverters. A configuration tipped to the south would have been more expensive to install, Boleyn explained, and would have produced less than a 15-percent gain in annual energy output. "We decided to take the [extra] money and put it into more panels." A PGE-Enron Foundation grant of $20,000 paid for the purchase and installation; the utility got what Boleyn termed "an incredible price" of $14,000 for the PV system through the Utility Photovoltaic Group.
Boleyn figures it will produce 4,500 to 5,000 kilowatt-hours annually, a year-round capacity factor of about 15 percent. Still, even under a slate-gray sky in late May, the system produced energy: a monitor inside the building showed real-time outputs exceeding 600 watts for each array.
The system should generate about 5 percent of the building's electric load, and it matches nicely with the air-conditioning-dominated summer peak, according to Boleyn. It also fits well with the environmental mission of The Nature Conservancy. "People wonder if you can have solar power in western Oregon; it's so cloudy," said TNC-Oregon communications director Stephen Anderson. "We're hoping that you can and that it will prove to be an economically viable alternative in the future."
Another system, not far away, provides PV power to the Portland-based firm ValueCAD. PGE originally thought to install rooftop panels, as at The Nature Conservancy, but a structural analysis of the building scotched that plan. Instead, the pair of 250-watt panels are mounted, awning-style, at a 45-degree angle on the building's south-facing exterior wall. These polycrystalline silicon panels, also made by Solarex, were actually set up at the White House for Christmas in 1996, according to Boleyn. PGE paid $1,500 for each panel.
|Doug Boleyn stands next to the solar PV installation atop
The Nature Conservancy of Oregon's office building in Portland.
Photo by Mark Ohrenschall
Boleyn and Lei report that the PV systems have generally performed well, although Lei said inverter problems did crop up earlier but were fixed by the manufacturer. "We're continuing the testing and monitoring of the performance now so when people call in we have some experience" to share, said Lei. PGE hopes to serve as a credible information source on this emerging technology. "We're awaiting the early adopter crowd to really sit up and take notice," Lei said.--Mark Ohrenschall
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A novel and ambitious solar energy project in southern Oregon has received the first renewable energy grant from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
A city of Ashland plan to install solar photovoltaic systems on facilities in the community, and market the energy output locally, will get between $25,000 and $62,000 from BEF as a matching grant. The city and host facilities are expected to fund most of the project, which could develop up to 25 kilowatts of installed PV capacity by mid-2000.
"This is a small-scale but highly visible demonstration of solar technology to inspire others," said BEF board member Rachel Shimshak of Renewable Northwest Project. "So many people go through there from just about everywhere," she said, citing the popular Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
BEF board member Ralph Cavanagh, meanwhile, lauded Ashland's green power marketing plans. "By offering its citizens this solar energy option, Ashland becomes a leader regionally and nationally," he said in a news release. "And its citizens have the opportunity to prove that people in the Pacific Northwest want solar power and will pay for it."
The willingness of Ashlanders to pay a solar premium is a vital element of the project, according to Dick Wanderscheid of the city of Ashland.
"The whole idea is we're going to put up some institutional, publicly owned PV systems that will be directly fed into the grid and net-metered, and then the city, on behalf of those institutions, will market the power to the citizens of Ashland at a higher rate, so we can then pay the institutions the payment stream from marketing the power to the citizens to reduce the payback," he explained.
Each 5-KW PV system should cost about $50,000, probably split equally between Ashland/BEF and the host facility. This arrangement should create a payback of 12 to 13 years. "They're getting the advantage of getting a system for half price, and we're getting the advantage of having them cost-share the system," said Wanderscheid.
Ashland has no formal commitments yet for PV installations. Potential prospects include governments, schools, non-profit organizations and the Shakespeare Festival. At the very least, Wanderscheid said, the city will put up its own PV with its committed budget of $50,000.
Although many details are still in the works, Ashland expects to sell solar power to local residents in blocks of an additional $4 per month. If sufficient demand arises, a second phase of the project would allow Ashland businesses and citizens to purchase cost-shared PV systems under a similar arrangement as with public institutions.
Ashland has an excellent solar resource for the Northwest, as well as a net-metering policy and a solar-access ordinance, noted Wanderscheid. "The foundation felt if it could work anywhere, it could work here."
The Ashland solar project, along with two watershed restoration ventures that also received BEF grants in mid-July, were actually sought by the foundation.
"We went out and prospected," said BEF executive director Angus Duncan. "We wanted to get some projects on the board. We wanted them to be good ones, and we wanted them to some extent to send a message about the kinds of things we were supporting" with BEF's share of revenues from Bonneville Power Administration green power sales.
He called the Ashland initiative "pretty aggressive . . . This compares very favorably with what anyone else has done, or at least it will once its in place, in terms of installed capacity and also visibility. Part of the intent was we could do for solar in Ashland what the region did for conservation in Hood River," referring to a landmark comprehensive residential weatherization project in that Columbia River Gorge community in the mid-1980s.
BEF also liked the leveraging aspects of Solar Ashland, with participation, financial and otherwise, from the local community. The retail green power plans were compelling, too. So was the possibility of other entities joining Ashland in an aggregated bulk-purchase PV deal. "It was an attractive project all the way around," said Duncan.
Duncan said he originally worked on this venture with Ashland before joining BEF, at which time he turned it over to Renewable Northwest Project. Shimshak, meanwhile, recused herself from the board vote on the grant; RNP hired consultant Tom Starrs to work on the project.
In addition to Solar Ashland, BEF granted $23,850 to the Mohawk Watershed Partnership for a biological assessment of the Mohawk River, a tributary of the McKenzie River near Eugene. The other initial watershed grantee is Sea Resources Inc. of Chinook, WA, which got $5,000 for landowner outreach in the Chinook River Valley at the mouth of the Columbia River, according to a news release.
BEF this fall plans to issue a broad solicitation for renewable and watershed projects to fund, according to Duncan, and it expects to make selections by next spring. The initial grants amount to $100,000 or less, but the foundation has at least another $1.25 million in the bank or accounts receivable. "We could spend the entire exchequer on one or two projects, without blinking," he said, but "we don't want to do that. We also don't want to scatter the money all over the landscape."
Meanwhile, three more BPA green power sales will bring additional revenues to BEF, which gets 60 percent of the approximately 1 cent per kilowatt-hour premium. Flathead Electric Cooperative has agreed to purchase one megawatt, with an option for a second megawatt, according to Duncan. The city of Idaho Falls has committed to a 0.5 MW deal, and Midstate Electric Cooperative in central Oregon has signed up for 0.25 MW. "We are now represented by sales in all four states," noted Duncan. Snohomish County PUD, Emerald PUD and Orcas Power & Light have previously bought BPA green power with a portion of revenues allocated to BEF.--Mark Ohrenschall
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In a boost for local renewable energy, Oregon utilities would be required to offer net metering for small-scale solar, wind, hydro and fuel cell systems under a bill recently passed by the Oregon Legislature.
Gov. John Kitzhaber is expected to sign House Bill 3219 into law, but he had not done so by July 30; in the past he has expressed support for net metering as outlined in the legislation.
HB 3219 would require utilities to start offering net metering later this year to customers with renewable home electric systems smaller than 25 kilowatts. The practice is defined in the bill as "measuring the difference between the electricity supplied by an electric utility and the electricity generated by a customer-generator and fed back to the electric utility over the applicable billing period."
"It's a great piece of legislation," said Peter West, senior policy associate for Renewable Northwest Project. "It equals the playing field and creates a different relationship between customers and their utility--more of a partnership." HB 3219 was initially introduced at the request of Renewable Northwest and the solar energy industry. It also has support from more than 20 industry associations, environmental groups and utilities, including the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Emerald PUD, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp.
The bill requires electric utilities to offer net metering to customers with net-metering facilities; it also establishes interconnection standards and charge limitations for such facilities. To qualify for net metering, customer systems must use solar, wind, hydroelectric power or fuel cells to generate electricity; have a generating capacity of not more than 25 KW; and be located on the customer-generator's premises. Once a utility has installed net-metering capacity equal to one-half of 1 percent of the utility's historic peak load, West said the utility can pause to see if other requirements are needed and to readdress standards and conditions.
Utilities have two options for paying customers for the power they supply to the system: one is to provide a credit on the customer's next bill, based on the utility's per-kilowatt-hour rate; the other is to pay the customer the utility's avoided cost for the excess generation. If a utility chooses the avoided cost option, it must install an additional meter to accurately measure the net on the reverse flow, and it cannot charge the customer any interconnection or billing fees.
If the legislation receives Kitzhaber's signature as expected, Oregon will become the 28th state in the nation and the fourth in the region to provide for net metering. Montana adopted a net-metering bill earlier this year, while Washington state did so in 1998. Idaho Public Utilities Commission rules also allow it.--Jude Noland
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Market transformation takes time, and so will a full assessment of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.
Still, nearly three years after its formation, the regional collaborative has engendered largely (although not entirely) favorable opinions about the organization and its market-transforming work.
If there is a regional consensus it would seem to be that market transformation makes sense as a means to foster energy efficiency, and that the Alliance, while it can improve, is doing a pretty good job--clearly good enough to merit continuation after its initial three-year charter concludes at the end of 1999.
At least two reports in the past year have formally assessed the Alliance (individual Alliance ventures are evaluated separately).
A December 1998 operational audit of the Alliance by PricewaterhouseCoopers was put together through interviews with nine Alliance staffers, 13 Alliance board members and 21 vendors, and review of 19 separate types of documents.
"The Alliance has accomplished much in its short history, from creating an infrastructure within which to operate, to the launch of over two dozen projects aimed at achieving market transformation," reported PWC. "Almost all parties interviewed had positive comments regarding the Alliance staff and organizational accomplishments."
The audit found a number of Alliance strengths, including a "proactive approach to market transformation," a strategic plan and "an effective organizational environment in the areas of management philosophy, operating style and direction." It also praised the Alliance's relatively low administrative costs and request for proposals processes.
On the room-for-improvement side of the ledger, PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested a more strategic focus by the board, greater staff and board professional diversity, and expanded communications.
Another independent assessment came in a November 1998 survey of 64 "key stakeholders"--defined as Northwest utility officials, regulators, state energy office managers and Northwest Power Planning Council staff. It found that 80 percent were aware of the Alliance. Of those who knew about the collaborative, 35 percent thought the Alliance "is doing a good job" and 21 percent thought the Alliance "is doing a good job, but could improve." Suggested improvements included more funding, a broader vision, greater geographic and group diversity, increased communications and more programs targeted at specific interests of respondents. Meanwhile, 41 percent "did not feel they knew enough about the Alliance to judge how well it is performing," according to the report by Research Into Action.
That may well be changing. "There's been a lot more awareness [of the Alliance] that has occurred among utilities of the Northwest," said Larry Bryant of Kootenai Electric Cooperative, a former Alliance board member. "I think it's a function of the communications . . . I think they're getting there."
Kootenai supports the Alliance, Bryant noted, but he acknowledged that not all utilities do. "Support is pretty widespread although there are people who will take exception to that," said Alliance executive director Margie Gardner. "I think it's generally pretty good, but there's also a need to build more awareness--a generic challenge."
Elizabeth Klumpp, who represents Washington Gov. Gary Locke on the Alliance board, thinks most regional stakeholders "perceive that the Alliance is accomplishing what it is funded to do: secure long-lasting energy savings at low costs to ratepayers." But, she added, some stakeholders believe energy efficiency programs should provide direct energy savings to all contributing ratepayers; market transformation takes a different tack, as "the lowest-cost approach to provide electricity services to all consumers throughout the region."
Asked about regional awareness, understanding and support of the Alliance, board member Ken Keating of Bonneville Power Administration (which provides almost half of the Alliance funding) said: "It grows slowly--those in the know seem to universally believe we are successful beyond expectations; others are beginning to hear about us. Our trade allies may remain the most skeptical, but part of that is that . . . they like retrofit programs, and didn't understand the concept of developing self-sustaining projects."
Philosophical Differences on Market Transformation
Indeed, some philosophical differences have arisen on the Alliance's approach to transforming markets.
Stan Price--executive director of the business trade group Northwest Energy Efficiency Council, and also an Alliance board member--praised the regional collaborative as "a significant contributor to the developing effort of market transformation." Yet, he said, "I don't believe that the region's market transformation efforts have yet translated to a marked increase in business opportunity for energy efficiency businesses."
The Alliance to date has focused on "product/equipment-oriented markets characterized by manufacturer-retailer-customer distribution chains," such as with resource-efficient washing machines and compact fluorescent lamps. "Those investments surely affect large appliance manufacturers, but don't do much for energy service companies, consulting engineers or HVAC equipment suppliers." But Price noted more recent Alliance ventures in different kinds of markets--such as microelectronics--that he hopes "will result in increased opportunities for our industry over time."
Another person taking modest philosophical issue with the Alliance is Ken Canon, executive director of Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities. Speaking to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission in March, Canon said ICNU supports "real market transformation . . . We see some [Alliance] activities in code areas we question that look more like regulatory functions and not market transformation functions." He also suggested that if the Alliance succeeds it should "evolve into a situation where it will not need as much utility money and operate as a venture capitalist; invest in things that are not quite commercial and get something back." (Keating said the Alliance already has about $4 million worth of private-sector investments in its projects.)
Canon also made a pitch for adding customers to the Alliance board, a position later advocated by Industrial Customers of Idaho Power. "If you're going to transform markets," Canon told the WUTC, "it's a good idea to have the markets, which are customers, on the board themselves." Idaho industrialists, meanwhile, raised the issue of taxation without representation, arguing that the people who financially support the Alliance--electric ratepayers--should have a direct role in the collaborative.
Alliance officials are actively considering putting customers on the board, but a new configuration has not yet been adopted.
Another perspective on the Alliance organization comes from energy consultant and former Northwest Conservation Act Coalition official Kevin Bell, who called the Alliance's funding amount of $65 million over three years "token, a couple of percent of what a serious regional DSM effort would be." Bell also perceives a lack of long-term regional commitment to the Alliance, and believes it is "controlled by utilities who have zero motivation to actually produce results. From their perspective, the main function of [the Alliance] is to provide political cover.
"The staff is great, and my understanding of what NEEA is doing with the limited resources and influence available to it is modestly impressive," he told Con.WEB. "But the ultimate benchmark of good public policy is whether it positively changes the vector of our society. I see no evidence that NEEA will ever meet that test."
A more positive assessment was delivered by Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who described the Alliance as "the most ambitious multistate energy efficiency effort in the history of the country." Speaking at an Alliance contractors conference in February, Cavanagh declared, "The early [Alliance] results are in and they are outstanding." He cited the Energy Star Resource-Efficient Clothes Washers venture as a specific and successful example. In fact, he added, the Alliance can justifiably seek more than $65 million in future funding, having compiled "as strong a record as anyone has delivered anywhere in the world" in comparable situations.
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Four Northwest buildings have been recognized for their integration of design and energy/resource conservation in the seventh annual Architecture + Energy awards program.
The Frye Art Museum in Seattle and the Emerald PUD headquarters near Eugene received awards of honor during the June 25 event in Portland. Multnomah County Central Library in Portland and the Commander Headquarters and Navy Band in Bangor, WA, earned awards of merit in the juried competition, which is sponsored by the American Institute of Architects/Portland and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance.
(Editor's note: More complete coverage of Architecture + Energy is planned for a coming issue of Con.WEB.)
Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program is operating a new information clearinghouse for industries under a five-year, $5 million contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Industries of the Future Clearinghouse provides information and technical assistance to the nine most energy- and resource-intensive industries in the country: forest products, agriculture, aluminum, chemicals, metal casting, petroleum refining, mining, glass and steel.
This new service is part of DOE's Office of Industrial Technologies, which has a goal to "research, develop and deliver advanced energy efficiency, renewable energy and pollution prevention technologies for industrial applications," according to a WSU energy program news release.
Registration is now open for the inaugural Building Operator Certification Level II course series, beginning Sept. 9 in Kent, WA.
Sponsored by Puget Sound Energy, the course series will run through February with once-a-month classes designed for experienced facility personnel who have received BOC Level I certification or have equivalent education and training.
In addition, two new BOC Level I courses will begin this fall, one in Spokane starting Sept. 22 and another in Medford, OR, beginning Oct. 5.
BOC is operated by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council with support from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. It is a professional development program for staff responsible for operation and maintenance of institutional or commercial buildings.
For more information, call (206) 292-4793 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The REI flagship store in Seattle has been chosen by the American Institute of Architects as one of "10 examples of viable architectural design solutions that protect and enhance the environment," in recognition of Earth Day 1999.
REI and nine other buildings around the country were chosen by the AIA Committee on the Environment "for a variety of reasons, including environmentally responsible use of building materials, use of daylight over artificial lighting, designs that create efficiency in heating or cooling, and overall sensitivity to local environmental issues," according to an introduction to the 1999 Earth Day Top Ten.
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