Con.WEB website links Con.WEB Calendar of Events Con.WEB In Brief Back Issues & Subject Index Search Con.WEB

Funding Support from the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance


1) Puget to Launch Time-of-Use Pricing, Conservation Credits
2) BPA, Utilities, Alliance Embark on Compact Fluorescent Coupon Campaign
3) Load Management Increasingly Popular Strategy to Cut Demand, Especially Peak
4) NEEC Leader Stan Price Shares Ideas for Cost-Effective, Near-Term Energy Efficiencies
5) BPA Wind Power Solicitation Brings in 2,600-Plus MW of Proposed Capacity
6) Abandoned Nuclear Plant Site Will Host Northwest's Largest Solar-Electric Power Plant
7) Three Western Washington Businesses Commit to 100-Percent New Renewable Electricity
8) Oregon IOU Residential Customers Can Soon Choose Renewables Rate Option
9) Northwest Utility-Reported Energy Savings Drop 40 Percent from 1997 to 2000, RTF Survey Finds
BRIEFS: California Gov. Davis Signs $850 Million Conservation/Renewables Bills; Two Solar-Electric Projects Win BEF Grant Funding; Portland Business Wins Energy Efficiency Award; Alliance Releases Lighting, Activities Reports; BPA Wins Energy Star National Award; Customer Publications Available from Northwest Regional Group


Next Generation Conservation

Puget Sound Energy's Time-of-Use Pricing,
Conservation Credits Approved by WUTC

Puget Sound Energy extols time-of-use pricing and conservation credits as the "next generation" of energy conservation. But as with any generational change, the transition has not gone entirely smoothly.

Puget's proposal to establish a new rate structure based on peak and off-peak electricity use, and a companion plan to offer customers 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for energy savings beyond 10 percent, finally won approval from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on April 25. These will debut May 1.

But the time-of-use pricing was scaled back from Puget's initial proposal in late March; it will apply only to residential customers with automated meter-reading equipment (an estimated 330,000 customers) and they can choose not to participate.

Rate variations also were reduced. Those in the program will pay about 15 percent more during peak morning and evening hours than the current rate, the same during the day, and some 15 percent less during nights and Sundays. WUTC staff estimates 96 percent of customers who keep the same power-usage patterns will have less than a 3-percent difference on their bills--higher or lower--during the program's approved period through September. And participating customers will get refunds if Puget collects more total revenue from the time-of-use rates than under current rates.

At an April 11 WUTC hearing, Puget officials argued that the joint proposal would help lower the utility's power demand and thus its costs on wholesale markets, especially in high-priced peak times. One estimate is that time-of-use pricing would shift 100 megawatts to 200 MW of demand to off-peak periods.

Some others, however, were more skeptical. Business representatives worried about rate impacts for enterprises, such as restaurants, realistically unable to shift their power use. Effects on low-income people also were raised. Some wondered whether the investor-owned utility would profit handsomely from selling conserved power into the market. Several speakers urged Puget to boost its energy conservation programs.

And many, including WUTC commissioner Richard Hemstad, wanted more time to analyze and review what he called "the most significant restructuring of rate arrangements since I've been on the commision, eight years." Nevertheless, two weeks later Hemstad supported Puget's revised proposal. "I commend the company for offering it," Hemstad said April 25. "It's a compromise, but I think one that attempts to meet the multiple needs and concerns here."

Puget vice president and chief operating officer Gary Swofford praised the WUTC "for helping us fine-tune our conservation plan and getting it implemented quickly," according to a PSE news release following commission approval. He looks for "immediate and positive results."

Time-of-Use Pricing, Conservation Credits

Puget's proposal stems from the energy crisis and builds on the utility's application of automated meter-reading technology.

Some 420,000 Puget customers now participate in the Personal Energy Management program. They receive information from the utility on variations in power costs throughout the day and their personal time-of-day patterns, and are encouraged to shift electricity use to off-peak periods.

"There are two major problems we believe demand urgent solutions," Swofford told the WUTC on April 11. "We've got an energy supply problem and a very high price problem. This filing deals with both of those problems."

The conservation credit targets supply, he said, giving a "strong incentive" to customers to shrink their overall consumption at least 10 percent--the statewide energy-saving figure called for by Gov. Gary Locke. Puget will compare a customer's monthly consumption with the same month in the previous year, under the credit plan offered through Dec. 31. Each kilowatt-hour saved beyond 10 percent will earn participating customers a 5-cent credit on bills.

Time-of-use rates will be established for four separate daily periods: morning (6 a.m.-10 a.m.), midday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.), evening (5 p.m.-9 p.m.) and economy (9 p.m.-6 a.m. and Sundays and holidays). Morning and evening peak rates will be 6.25 cents/KWh, dropping to 5.36 cents/KWh for middays and 4.7 cents/KWh for economy hours.

"This is a pretty modest proposal," Swofford said. "It's not something you'll be seeing drastic variations between any of these periods."

The utility brought in consultant and former U.S. Department of Energy official Peter Fox-Penner, who told the commission it had "truly a historic opportunity to approve a modest change in how we price electricity here in the Northwest. It couldn't come at a more important time. The benefits of moving to this sort of pricing are overwhelming and compelling."

Based on studies of other time-of-use pricing programs, Fox-Penner estimated Puget's peak demand could fall 100 MW to 200 MW, based on a 2-percent shift in usage away from the high-priced blocks. This would effectively create "a peaking plant that won't increase emissions." A 1-percent decrease in electricity demand can drop wholesale market prices up to 10 percent, he said, cutting costs not only for Puget but for the whole region.

Opinions, Opinions, Opinions

Expressed public opinion had come out largely against Puget's initial proposal. A WUTC staff memo for the April 25 commission meeting listed 294 calls and letters opposed, 61 in favor.

One of the biggest uncertainties regarded specific rate impacts.

At the April 11 meeting representatives of business groups wanted more assessment of how time-of-use pricing would affect their members--a restaurant association official noted that a 3- to 5-percent increase in monthly electric bills could put an eatery out of business. "We could do more to reduce load but we can't close our doors and we can't ask customers to eat between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m."

The Washington state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business has "grave concerns regarding the timing of the proposal," said director Carolyn Logue. More than half the members have already had utility rate increases greater than 21 percent. "Time-of-use may work for commercial [customers] but it may need to be done differently," she said.

Some residential customers may also find it difficult to shift their power usage, according to other comments. Working parents may lack flexibility for energy-intensive activities such as baths, laundry and dinner, said Chuck Eberdt of the Energy Project. He also expressed concern about the impacts of the rate proposal on low-income people, as did Danielle Dixon of the Northwest Energy Coalition.

Dixon, Eberdt and Simon ffitch of the state Attorney General's Public Counsel Section suggested Puget expand its energy conservation programss. "The best option is to take advantage of energy efficiency programs," according to Dixon, more so than load-shifting ("not always possible") or curtailment ("not always sustainable").

Another anxiety expressed by some parties is the perceived lack of awareness among customers about time-of-use pricing. PEM is informational in nature, although customer materials do state in the text that "your electric bill in the future may directly reflect these changing prices." Swofford said April 11 that Puget proposed to spend $1 million-plus on customer education. "We understand that customer participation in this program is the key to its success. Our interests and our customers interests in this aspect are perfectly aligned."

Equity issues also emerged. "All the risks fall on the ratepayers," said ffitch. "Ratepayers, even if they conserve, could end up seeing surcharges while PSE is kept whole and can reap very substantial benefits selling power into these very elevated wholesale markets."

Hemstad offered a "simple illustrative calculation" that if Puget had 100 additional megawatts available for sale, at a "very conservative" net difference of $100/MW hour, it could reap nearly $88 million in net benefits over a year's time. "That's a lot of money, and it all goes to the company." Meanwhile, he said, some customers would be turning on dishwashers in the middle of the night. "If you're living in an apartment with two small children and they're kept awake with the dishwasher on, it is a substantial cost. It is real. [Puget] ends up with very substantial economic benefits with the economic costs being incurred by the ratepayers. I don't think that's fair. That's not to say it couldn't be made more fair."

Hemstad also questioned the urgency of the IOU's request: "Puget has a resource base currently sufficient to meet its loads, and maybe on balance long."

Commission chairwoman Marilyn Showalter likewise was not ready to endorse Puget's plan April 11, but added, "I am genuinely interested in seeing if we can get to a proposal that commissioner Hemstad and I can support." She listed several suggested changes that were ultimately adopted, including limiting time-of-use rates to residential customers with advanced meters now in place; modest differentials (say 10-15 percent) between peak and off-peak rates and no seasonal differences; and a termination by early fall, to allow any needed adjustments.

Swofford responded April 11 that Puget is "at severe risk of having to go to the market at high-priced times under current conditions." The utility isn't out to make big money, he said, but to reduce wholesale power costs and avoid rate increases.--Mark Ohrenschall (Cindy Simmons also contributed to this report)

***Return to Contents


Compact Conservation

BPA, Utilities, Alliance Launch Regional Coupon Campaign
Offering $6 Discounts for Compact Fluorescents

Compact fluorescent lamps are now considerably less expensive in retail stores around much of the Northwest.

A regionwide program launched in early April offers many Northwest electric customers free coupons worth $6 toward the purchase of Energy Star-qualifying compact fluorescents 13 watts or higher. Bonneville Power Administration spearheads and funds this energy-saving initiative, and about 60 participating Northwest utilities deliver coupons to their customers.
Courtesy of LightSite Web site.

Those coupons are redeemable at more than 525 retail locations in participating utility service territories, including Fred Meyer, Home Depot, Bi-Mart and Lowe's stores as well as a number of smaller outlets. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance helps support these retail connections.

Some three million coupons are available in this first round of the CFL coupon campaign, according to Ken Keating, BPA's market transformation coordinator. These coupons expire July 31, but BPA plans more distributions over the next two years. "We're going to stay active as a persistent presence in the market," he said. "It's not a one-shot deal . . . This is the time to jump on it."

Keating said BPA estimates 10 percent of the distributed coupons will lead to installed CF bulbs, or roughly 300,000 around the region in this first phase. That would save about 1.5 average megawatts of energy, and shave peak winter loads by up to 6 MW, according to a BPA news release.

Quick-Strike Conservation

Bonneville developed the venture as a quick-strike energy-saving program. In mid-December, according to Keating, top BPA officials sought conservation ideas that "we could roll out the fastest. We had a core of Energy Star utilities, almost 50, already signed up around the region. We said we could design something around the Alliance lighting program." Paul Norman, senior vice president for BPA's power business line, gave the go-ahead within a week.

This coupon program is part of Bonneville's Conservation Augmentation, which seeks cost-effective energy savings to help the agency avoid expensive wholesale power purchases on the open market. BPA expects to spend about $800,000 for each 100,000 bulbs, or roughly $1.6 million per average megawatt of anticipated savings, according to Keating. Levelized cost is forecast at about 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (based on lamp lives of five to seven years in high-use locations). And much of the energy savings from the CF bulbs will occur on winter evenings coincident with peak loads, he noted.

Coupon Campaign

The CF coupons are given to Northwesterners via electric utilities. A total of 36 utilities--almost all publicly owned but including investor-owned Avista Utilities and Portland General Electric--were listed as initial participants. But that number had risen to 59 as of April 27, according to Kathryn Opp of ECOS Consulting, which is helping with program implementation. Coupons are being distributed by utilities through bill inserts, newsletters and even retail outlets, Keating said.

Each coupon is good for a $6 discount off Energy Star CF lamps rated at 13 watts or greater. This allows people to select from a range of sizes, wattages, shapes and styles of lamps. "A key to this program is choice," said Keating. "With some bulbs you'll pay 48 cents and get two bulbs. Others you'll pay $16 and get a dimmable 100-watt bulb. It's up to you."

ECOS Consulting acts as a "regionwide fulfillment service," Keating said. Opp reported "huge response" by Northwest retailers to the coupon program. "They're signing up in droves." Although no sales figures had yet arrived from large retailers as of late April, at least two small stores in rural Washington had already turned in more than 100 coupons. ECOS promises to reimburse participating retailers within two weeks of receiving coupons--an important consideration for small businesses.

The Alliance's Energy Star Residential Lighting program had already enlisted a "lot of small drugstores and chains" east of the Cascades, which has proven "very essential" in building the retailer base for the coupon initiative, according to Keating.

The regional market transformation collaborative plays a support role in this coupon campaign, according to project coordinator Marci Sanders, "essentially by connecting up with retailers and facilitating the ability to run these coupons through retailers." While BPA provides funding, enlists utilities and generally serves as "the driver" of the coupon venture, "We're utilizing contacts and connections and market information that we have already developed through the lighting program, and applying it specifically to this coupon campaign." She called the coupon initiative "a hugely cooperative effort."

A number of large Northwest utilities have separately run programs giving away free CFLs to their customers--PacifiCorp, Seattle City Light and Tacoma Power among them. Snohomish County PUD already has a "great program" for CFLs, according to Keating, while Idaho Power plans to launch a CFL initiative. "All of these complement each other," he said. And more utilities could join the coupon campaign later.

Although some CFL programs have encountered trouble finding enough lamps with the increased conservation emphasis during the energy crisis, the coupon venture seems to have avoided this problem. "Everyone feels they're going to have enough supply," Keating said. He also noted some new Energy Star-qualifying lamps are entering the regional market.--Mark Ohrenschall

More Information:

***Return to Contents


Load Management Increasingly Popular
Strategy to Cut Demand, Especially Peak

Reducing electricity use is all the rage these days of energy crisis. And it can be accomplished many ways, from flicking off lights to installing more energy-efficient equipment to large-scale load-management programs involving utilities and their customers.

Load management--including energy exchange/power buy-back initiatives, interruptible arrangements, remote load controlling and pricing schemes--is an increasingly popular strategy to shrink power demand, especially in peak-load periods.

"We've really seen remarkable progress" in load-management ventures over the past year, said economist Ken Corum of the Northwest Power Planning Council. He spoke at a March 27 forum near Seattle sponsored by Bonneville Power Administration, Northwest Public Power Association and the Council. Load management may not entirely solve the region's power problems, Corum indicated, but it can substantially help. "We've certainly done more than people expected us to do a few months ago."

BPA chief operating officer Steve Hickok also signalled the importance of demand management generally, declaring that "knocking people off peak is going to be part of the equation" as the Northwest struggles with drought, hydropower constraints and skyrocketing wholesale market prices (particularly on peak). In fact, he said, "3,000 megawatts of industrial capacity in the region is idle. That's why the lights stayed on" this winter.

The forum explored load-management ventures by BPA, Portland General Electric, Seattle City Light, PacifiCorp, Puget Sound Energy and Milton-Freewater Light & Power. Regulatory, customer and consultant perspectives also were shared.

While load management can be widely beneficial, it also can raise issues and concerns, such as appropriate pricing and participation criteria, customer comfort, and environmental considerations if diesel generators are fired up in lieu of system power.

Demand Exchange/Power Buy-Back Programs

One common load-management approach involves utilities paying customers to reduce demand during peak periods. PGE calls its program an Electricity Exchange. "It's frankly a short-term fix," said PGE's retail energy products director Brian Soth. "We're asking customers to curtail load . . . shutting down some of their business." Over time, he added, the investor-owned utility wants to move toward pricing signals for demand reductions.

The Electricity Exchange has proven "considerably more successful than anticipated when we designed it as a pilot," according to Soth. PGE had signed up eight customers with a total curtailable load of 157 megawatts--roughly 5 percent of the IOU's peak load. Curtailments have been called during 1,100 hours, with an average price of $300 per megawatt-hour. Energy savings have amounted to 70 million KWh (about 8 average megawatts) and customer revenues have exceeded $6 million.

Soth also listed some "keys to success," including interested and capable customers, an engaged utility power-trading department, sufficient size (in megawatts and dollars), flexibility and good communications. "We want to believe technology can make this seamless . . . dehumanized," he said. "That's not true. There's a great deal of human contact in making this program work."

Among the "problem areas" identified by PGE are a time-consuming settlement process, some delivery failures, pricing issues (including the lack of a Northwest hourly index and customer confusion over different prices elsewhere) and the use of standby generation that is often diesel-fired.

BPA's Demand Exchange pilot venture features an Internet-based auction site where participating Bonneville customers are alerted to peak-load offers up to two days in advance, and then "post their willingness to participate at a price," according to BPA's John Hairston. Benefits are based on spot market wholesale price and split evently between BPA and customers. Minimum load-reduction capability is 500 kilowatts (.5 MW), down from 1 MW earlier. "We've gotten . . . much of the low-hanging fruit," Hairston told the forum in explaining the lower threshold.

He described participation as "pretty decent . . . We've been pretty happy so far." BPA had signed up more than 800 MW--since dropped to 543 MW with aluminum smelter shutdowns--and had recorded 3,000 MW of load reductions, at an average of 7 MW to 10 MW per hour--which Bonneville wants to raise to 25 MW per hour. Hairston said BPA has found smaller customers participate more consistently, and many industrial customers are moving to process optimizations to reduce loads. Some customers want more certainty on non-performance penalties.

Seattle City Light also is exploring an energy buy-back venture, offering bill credits for all customers shedding loads by 20 percent, although details are still under discussion, reported SCL's Linda Lockwood. "We find ourselves in these remarkable times where load management will be a really good idea."

Pricing Plans

Seattle and the Electric Power Research Institute will undertake a pilot venture beginning this summer to test automated demand-response systems based on "coincident peak pricing." This will involve six to eight customers, primarily large office buildings with energy management control systems. Participating customers will program their systems to respond automatically (with an override capability) to notice of upcoming high-priced power hours. They will pay standard bills during the pilot, and later get a rebate for savings from load reductions.

Coincident peak pricing applies during the most expensive 200 to 500 hours annually, with discounts for all other hours, according to background information. It promises a fixed number of peak hours and "delivers to customers an incentive that appears to be of sufficient level and predictability to encourage their investment in load management technologies." Lockwood said City Light hopes for energy savings of 7 percent or better in the pilot, through reprogramming existing systems. This approach may be expanded to other customers and/or incorporated into future rate designs, she noted.

Puget Sound Energy also is working on pricing strategies for load management, including time-of-use pricing (see related story). This is enabled by advanced technologies Puget has worked on over the past four years, said customer services vice president Penny Gullekson.

Controlling Remote Loads

The utility serving the northeastern Oregon community of Milton-Freewater has managed electric loads remotely since the mid-1980s. "We've proved residential load management systems will work," said Milton-Freewater electric superintendent Mike Charlo.

His utility's voltage reduction plan, accomplished through a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system, lowers voltages 4.5 percent and shrinks systemwide demand 6 percent during winter peak loads. Milton-Freewater also controls loads directly in the homes of voluntarily participating customers, through a radio-controlled relay that turns off electric space- and water-heating and air conditioning during peak periods usually lasting three hours. These customers get rate discounts up to 6 percent year-round, costing the utility $1,000 to $1,200 monthly, according to Charlo.

Milton-Freewater saves $100,000 annually on purchased power--equal to 3 percent of its total revenues, and more than the initial cost of the two enabling technologies.

Charlo noted "very, very few complaints" from customers when their wintertime heating system goes cold. But they are much more likely to call and gripe in the summer when a lack of air conditioning makes them too hot. "We've learned to not be so aggressive in summertime," he said.

PacifiCorp also uses a SCADA system, to control irrigation pumping loads. Some 99 percent of Pacific's Idaho irrigation customers are on an interruptible rate schedule, receiving discounts of up to 40 percent for varying levels of service disruptions at the utility's behest, usually during system peaks, according to program manager Jeff White. PacifiCorp also has developed an energy buy-back program for irrigators who disconnect pumps for the entire season. Load management "offers one more opportunity to work with a customer to help each of us solve the financial crisis with the wild energy markets we're dealing with," White said.

Regulatory, Customer Perspectives

The Oregon Public Utility Commission supports energy-exchange programs as a load-reduction strategy, having approved five such initiatives, reported PUC senior economist Stefan Brown. These benefit utilities, customers and the region, while likely improving system reliability and lowering power costs.

Yet Brown also cited a number of regulatory issues for energy exchanges, including correct pricing signals, penalties for non-performance, eligibility requirements for customers ("The commission is very supportive of reducing the minimum size requirements so more customers can participate") and potential gaming.

From a customer perspective, Ralph Koozer of SP Paper briefly described the "good results" of his plant's demand-exchange arrangements with Portland General. SP sells back load to PGE during grid shortages and they share the benefits 50-50, he reported. The facility has two internal steam generators totalling 20 MW and SP can also make operational adjustments to accommodate reduced loads as requested by the utility. It takes "a lot of communications" to make the demand-exchange work, Koozer said. BPA's Hickok praised SP Paper for its flexible and sophisticated approach.

"Energy conservation in an industrial environment . . . has to stand on its own feet economically," Koozer emphasized. "It has to make a return on investment, and it usually has to compete against capital investments required for staying-in-business type projects."

Consultant Heber Weller discussed the "convergence of advanced load management and real-time pricing" enabled by the likes of customer gateways, local area networks and sophisticated metering systems. This makes load management less of a "do-it-to-you" for customers and more of a "do-it-for-you" service, he said. Customers can choose how to respond to price signals, delivering both demand and energy savings.

The forum also featured exhibits with load-management products and services from Apogee Interactive, Cannon Technologies, Comverge Technologies, Marley Engineered Products, Motorola, Power Correction Systems, Silicon Energy and Stonewater Software.--Mark Ohrenschall

***Return to Contents


Stan's Plan

NEEC Leader Stan Price Shares Ideas for
Cost-Effective, Near-Term Energy Efficiencies

[Editor's note: The following is adapted from a presentation by Stan Price, executive director of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Council, an energy efficiency business trade group, at the Pacific Northwest Load Management Forum near Seattle on March 27.]

This is a seminal event for me, being invited to speak on a panel discussing demand-side management and hearing all these presentations on load-management strategies, demand exchanges and new technologies. It certainly feels different to represent the old, boring traditional stuff of energy efficiency.

I think it is important to have a realistic discussion on what energy efficiency can bring to the particular problems we're facing here in the Northwest and the West Coast. I'm not proposing that energy efficiency is the solution, the only solution. That's simply not the case. The depth of the hole we're in is so significant we need all the shovels available to us to make it through these extraordinary times.

Energy efficiency can assist the region in the near-term and the longer term. It isn't an either-or situation with other kinds of load-management activities. We need a mixture of resources that includes new supply and creative use of demand-management strategies as well as energy efficiency, if we're going to weather this perfect storm as well as we can.

Energy efficiency investments can help alleviate this region's energy and capacity problems. If you embed more efficiency in how you go about each unit of production, you can provide significant value for both end-use customers as well as the serving utility.

We've been doing this stuff for a long time in the Northwest, at least a couple of decades. That may lead people to believe we've exhausted energy efficiency as a resource--been there, done that.

I'm here to make the argument we've had a glorious past and achieved a lot, particularly in the residential sector, but there are still lots of efficiency improvements out there that are extremely cost-effective and can be achieved in the relative near term.

I've been participating in a couple of loosely coordinated processes the last two months, with the Western Governor's Association and an ad hoc group of folks here in the region. Our focus has been on what kind of energy efficiency programs can we hit the ground with that can bring real, credible savings to the region in the next six to 18 months. There are a lot of different project ideas, a lot of overlap and agreement between the two processes. At this time, there is no sanctified list. But consider these Stan's personal favorites. They're not anything other than ones I think have significant cachet.

Six Efficiency Ideas

Number one: a commercial lighting retrofit acceleration process. We've been at this business of lighting improvements for some time and have made significant progress, but there's still an awful lot of facilities we haven't gotten to yet. We should identify those and acclerate replacing that old lighting with energy-efficient lighting. We can at the very least, once and for all get rid of old T-12s and magnetic ballasts and replace them with T-8s and electronic ballasts. This step alone will provide a lot of savings for the region. You might even be able to get into some design areas, where you can use more effective design/control strategies. These are easy to find, easy to identify opportunities. And we have a significant contractor base that allows us to tool up this kind of program effort quickly.

Second, building and control system tuneups. We can do better with the equipment that's conditioning the building space in the existing commercial sector. We can save between 3 and 15 percent of building energy use just by better maintenance practices and by bringing that equipment into a better operational profile, so that it tracks the ways buildings are actually being used. One approach for wringing out these O&M savings is by working with mechanical service contract firms, encouraging them to place special emphasis on the building's energy use features during routine service calls. By paying closer attention to thermostat settings, deadband settings, reset temperatures, sensor calibration, damper operations and other energy use features, relatively easy savings are available. These items are readily understandable to service technicians across the region, but customers have never asked for it. We can deliver those savings relatively quickly. This isn't an equipment changeout program; we can do better with the building equipment in place right now. We won't make these buildings perfect, but we can make them better. There are a lot of near-term savings available to us with the right design.

Third, chiller tuneups. Chiller optimization can bring big savings particularly to some metropolitan areas where large equipment is located. This may require identifying a handful of specialized engineers who can analyze this opportunity in large chiller equipment. With some reasonable screening, we can get big savings from a relatively small handful of chiller equipment.

Fourth, compressed air tuneups. In the industrial sector, 7 percent of total electrical energy goes to air compressors. Unfortunately, a huge amount of that energy is wasted by air leaks. Up to 30 percent of compressor energy use is simply wasted in this way. This problem is easy to identify and easy to correct. It's maybe a little more problematic to make sure that those leaks stay plugged over the long term, but we should not hesitate to go after these savings aggressively. With a modest figure of 10-percent savings from finding and fixing air leaks, a large number of megawatts of savings are available in the Northwest, from a relatively narrow number of customers.

Fifth, refrigerated case retrofits. These cases typically use old, fractional horsepower shaded pole motors that are very inefficient. Manufacturers make an energy-efficient line, but nobody buys it. If you pull out the inefficient motors and fans, and retrofit the case with more efficient motors and lights, there's a significant reduction in refrigerated case energy use in every grocery store. Old equipment is often reconditioned and resold. You have to get to these cases before they go out to the secondary market. Plenty of people know how to retrofit these cases; we just need to get them out there and working in the next six to 18 months.

Sixth, we sell approximately 6,000 packaged rooftop units in the Northwest every year. An incentive program would encourage higher efficiency equipment for those new units. This approach could provide some easy savings in commercial HVAC equipment.

New Construction

In the area of new construction, energy codes can certainly do some good things and we should explore additional increments in energy code stringency to get savings. Energy codes can't do all good things in new construction, however. There are limitations to what you can expect through a regulatory process like codes. At some point the next increments of efficiency in new building construction comes from good design practices, which are difficult to mandate from an energy code. We need more stringent features in codes, and we need to couple that with some kind of incentive that gets to design aspects in buildings. Architects and mechanical and lighting engineers can create buildings that perform far in excess of even the most progressive energy codes. But we will likely need to incent those projects for a while to get these energy savings.

We can do a significant amount of this in the next six to 18 months. If we're going to meet that kind of timeline, I think we need to challenge ourselves to think about the way we do this business of energy efficiency. Maybe one of the ways to do business better is the better utilization of energy services providers. We have an outstanding group of energy services providers in the Northwest who have been able to successfully operate in this region for the last 20 years. They know a lot about energy efficiency and they know a lot about their customers. We should be using that expertise and using their client contacts to help identify where the most lucrative opportunities for energy savings are, and couple that with program designs that lower the transaction costs for finding and implementing energy efficiency projects. In a practical sense, that means program designs that encourage energy services providers to bring projects to utilities and programs that are geared to make rapid decisions about funding good projects.

It may be important to think about this challenge in terms of comparative risk. If we look at efficiency programs and the pace of their implementation compared to the alternatives--not achieving the energy efficiency potential of the region--it is clearly nonsensical. The risk of investments in energy efficiency versus increased market purchases is an absolute no-brainer. It doesn't make sense to slow a conservation investment by worrying whether the cost happens to be 30 mills or 38 mills. We should not worry if it slightly underperforms its saving targets, or if some increment of the savings might be attributed to free ridership. These are comparatively small risks in comparison to the kinds of market costs we've been seeing and are likely to see for the next two to three years. Clear and simple, energy efficiency will limit market exposure. There is no better investment hedge for this region to make in its energy future.

This will mean that BPA and the region's utilities will need to accept a little bit more risk with their efficiency programs than they have in the past and they will need to move much more aggressively to fully realize all of these efficiency opportunities. In the long run, however, the end-use customer will benefit, as will the serving utility.

In closing, I want to challenge each of us to put our current energy crisis in an historical perspective. Let's all of us in this room take a ride in a time machine back to 1998. Just three years ago--by the way, the exact time frame in which we would need to make decisions that affect our 2001 resources--we anticipated less than 30-mill market prices for electricity and few of us felt that aggressive conservation programs made sense. Knowing what we now know, of course, we would love to replay that hand. This one experience in time travel should be enough to teach us that energy efficiency investments need to be consistent and persistent over time. If we rely on historically inaccurate forecasts of resource supply and cost, we will forever underinvest in the best and cheapest long-term resource in the Pacific Northwest--energy efficiency.

***Return to Contents


Wind Rush

BPA Wind Power Solicitation Brings in
2,600-Plus Megawatts of Proposed Capacity

Wind energy isn't quite as popular as natural gas-fired power plants for new megawatts in the Northwest, but it's gaining momentum like a freshening spring breeze.

Bonneville Power Administration's recent solicitation for wind-energy resources has resulted in 25 proposals totalling more than 2,600 megawatts of new capacity, nearly 850 average megawatts of energy. Those proposals are located primarily in the four Northwest states and could be expanded to about 4,000 MW of capacity. And many of these would-be wind projects are reportedly very competitive in cost with gas-fired generation.

Although only a portion of these proposals are likely to be developed soon, the responses indicate a robust wind power market is forming in the region.

"I think what our RFP did was create a gold-rush mentality in the Pacific Northwest" for wind-energy developers, said BPA renewables program manager George Darr.

BPA plans to select about six to eight proposals by the end of May for negotiation of power-purchase contracts. The federal agency's February RFP sought 1,000 MW or more of wind capacity, although Darr noted the amount ultimately bought will be shaped by cost considerations and an upcoming study on the impacts of intermittent wind power on BPA's system.

Nevertheless, BPA officials are bullish on wind power as a viable large-scale energy resource. Chief operating officer Steve Hickok praised the short construction time, relative reliability and competitive pricing of wind at an April 23 public-power wind conference in Portland. "This is wind's big moment," he said, and added that the Northwest's hydro-based electric system, with its immense storage capacity in reservoirs, is uniquely able to integrate intermittent renewable resources such as wind and solar.

Meanwhile, Seattle City Light is negotiating contracts for several wind-energy projects, as part of its 2000 solicitation for up to 100 aMW of renewables.

Big Wind for BPA

BPA's solicitation originally set an April 6 deadline for wind proposals, but it was later extended to April 20. Darr announced the results April 23 at the Portland public power wind gathering.

Bonneville received 25 proposals at 26 sites from 10 wind-energy developers. "My reaction was frankly relief that we got neither way too many or way too few," Darr told Con.WEB later. There are "some excellent proposals," he added.

Most of the proposed projects and megawatts come from Oregon and Washington. A state-by-state breakdown shows Oregon with 10 projects, 1,123 MW of capacity, 319 aMW of energy, and Washington, eight projects, 879 MW, 304 aMW. The rest come from Wyoming, Montana, Canada and Idaho.

These proposals were sent "by and large" from experienced wind developers, according to Darr, and they are largely but not wholly clustered in locations with long-term wind-monitoring data.

Although he didn't divulge any specifics, Darr also noted, "Some of the first-year costs I'm seeing here are as good as any I've ever seen." In February he estimated wind projects would need to cost about 3 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour for energy output, and another couple of cents per KWh for transmission and other services, to land in the competitive range. The solicitation specifies that "the cost of power must be comparable to the lowest cost alternative resources available to BPA under long term contracts." Bonneville is pursing wind power to help fill a projected 3,000 aMW shortfall in its ability to meet loads during fiscal years 2002-2006.

"It looks on the face of it like a number of these proposals have the potential for making it" on cost criteria, Darr said. BPA's upcoming assessment of integrating wind into its system will also influence the amount of wind power purchased. "We will be adding a significant quantity [of wind energy] to our power mix in the next few years," Hickok promised at the public power wind conference.

If BPA acquired the 848 aMW as proposed, that would equal 10 percent of the agency's power resources, according to Darr.

"We're concentrating on sites with expansion potential," said Darr. Submitted proposals could be enlarged to about 4,000 MW capacity. Proposals not selected for negotiations still "provide a lot of opportunities for the rest of the region to come in and take advantage of the same sites," he added. "It's a public benefit to doing this beyond the immediate power needs." He also hopes BPA's process will create more wind-resource monitoring around the Northwest, further expanding wind-energy potential.

Bonneville wants its wind power by the end of 2003 at the latest, and earlier if possible.

Two Northwest congressmen praised BPA's pursuit of wind energy. "It is extremely encouraging to see such a large number of creative proposals submitted, and it is my hope that BPA will evaluate them promptly and take advantage of the relatively fast siting capability offered by wind generated power," said Democrat Norm Dicks of Washington. Republican Greg Walden of Oregon called wind "one of the best kinds of energy to bring on-line--it's clean and renewable. And the growth of clean energy production in the rural Northwest will bring vital new revenues and jobs to parts of the region that need an economic boost."

Seattle City Light's Renewable Energy Solicitation

Another major renewable energy solicitation in the region comes from Seattle City Light, which in July issued a request for proposals for up to 100 aMW of renewables.

The Northwest's largest publicly owned utility received 62 proposals, including 23 for wind energy, three from existing projects. Wind proposals were geographically split among Washington, Oregon, California, Wyoming, Colorado and Canada. Most were larger than 25 MW capacity, with on-line dates anywhere from 2001 to 2008 for new ventures.

Seattle is negotiating contracts for "several" wind projects, according to City Light's Marilynn Semro. Public announcement of signed deals is anticipated "reasonably soon," she told Con.WEB in late April. Although the utility hasn't determined how much of the 100 aMW would eventually derive from wind, Semro said she would prefer somewhere between 25 aMW and 50 aMW. One of Seattle's goals with the renewables RFP is diversification of its energy resources, she told the public power wind gathering.

Semro called system integration a "key issue" for wind energy. "Wind is a variable resource," with capacity factors typically in the range of 35 percent. "The operators of our system are very concerned about trying to schedule the resource," she said at the conference. City Light evaluations of wind data have eased some of the initial deep skepticism among the utility's system operators, she noted; wind resources appear to be more predictable than earlier thought.--Mark Ohrenschall

More Information:

***Return to Contents

From Atoms to Sunlight

Nuclear Plant Site Will Host Northwest's
Largest Solar-Electric Power Plant

An abandoned nuclear power plant site in south-central Washington will soon begin producing electricity--from the sun, not from splitting atoms.

The Northwest's largest solar-electric installation, with a projected capacity of 35 kilowatts to 50 KW, is planned for the WNP-1 nuclear plant site in the Tri-Cities area. This solar undertaking is a joint venture of Energy Northwest, Bonneville Power Administration, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Western S.U.N. Cooperative, at least one corporate sponsor and the U.S. Department of Energy.

"Everyone talks about solar but no one ever does it," said BPA's Tom Osborn. Solar energy is widely considered too expensive, as was wind power a decade ago, he noted. "We have to start somewhere."

Energy Northwest will own and operate the solar plant, according to an April 20 news release. At least some of the proposed 50-KW capacity--perhaps half--could be installed as early as July. Estimated energy production is 80,000 KWh annually when the project reaches full size.

This represents "an important step forward for solar energy in the Northwest," said Rachel Shimshak of Renewable Northwest Project in the news release. "Taken together with the several hundred megawatts of new wind energy now in the pipeline, it is evidence that renewables are ready."

Solar Power Planning

BPA and local Tri-Cities officials initially envisioned a combination solar-electric power plant/manufacturing facility, as an economic development venture, according to Osborn. The U.S. Department of Energy was seeking a "brightfield" project in the Northwest, and there was talk of solar-electric production capacity in the range of 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts, along with solar component manufacturing by a private company. But that notion proved too ambitious. "We couldn't afford it," said Osborn.

However, BPA continued discussions with Energy Northwest and BEF, leading to the recent announcement of the solar-electric power station at WNP-1. It's intended to demonstrate solar's viability in south-central Washington, while taking advantage of the existing power infrastructure, according to Osborn.

Those three entities have committed $50,000 apiece for the 50-KW first phase. Another $50,000 is anticipated from a DOE grant, and $50,000 more has been pledged by a Washington state affiliate of California-based Newport Generation, according to the news release. Western S.U.N. "will assist with procurement of the solar cells and balance-of-station equipment."

Energy Northwest plans to issue an invitation for bids most likely in June, according to Osborn, and installations could happen in July, according to Osborn. It isn't yet known what specific solar-electric technology (or technologies) will be applied.

Energy Output

At 50 KW, the solar plant would generate an estimated 80,000 kilowatt-hours annually. That equates to a capacity factor of about 18 percent. "The Northwest isn't thought of as a natural home for solar. But in the fact the region has a world-class solar resource," said Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council in the news release. A map from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that eastern Washington has an annual average daily solar radiation per month figure equal to most of the Midwest and Southeast United States, and exceeded only by the greater Southwest region.

The annual output from the solar system equals about five minutes worth of energy production at Grand Coulee dam, according to Energy Northwest's Dick Koenigs. Still, he called it "pretty fair-sized given the emerging state of solar technology today." The project also will allow "our public power members [to] get a head start in learning about this generation technology of the future."

Power generated from the solar plant will be delivered into the BPA system, via interconnection equipment originally designed for the nuclear plant. "That was the simplest way to do it," said Osborn. BEF, meanwhile, will market the environmental attributes of the solar electricity through "green tags." (See related story).

This will the second Northwest solar installation involving BPA, BEF and public power, noted BPA acting administrator Steve Wright. It follows last year's inauguration of the 30-KW Solar Ashland venture in southern Oregon (see Con.WEB, Aug. 31, 2000).--Mark Ohrenschall

***Return to Contents

Playing (Green) Tag

Three Western Washington Businesses
Commit to 100-Percent New Renewable Electricity

Three Puget Sound-area companies will voluntarily pay more for their electricity in support of renewable energy.

The three enterprises--Xantrex Technology, Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters and Global Energy Concepts--will indirectly buy all their electricity from renewables under milestone agreements announced in early April. These are reportedly the first Northwest companies to commit to 100-percent new renewable energy via "green tags" procured through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. The green tag purchases by the three western Washington businesses will help finance new renewables for the regional grid, via BEF.

BEF president Angus Duncan called this "a truly extraordinary commitment" by the three companies. "They are exemplars for other folks in the region who have the same impulses but haven't acted upon them," he said at an April 4 ceremony at Snohomish PUD headquarters in Everett.

Company officials cited business as well as philosophical reasons for paying electricity premiums estimated in the range of 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. Xantrex--which, based on that number and its 2000 consumption, will pay approximately $20,000 more annually for power at its manufacturing plant in Arlington--will use clean energy as a marketing tool. The maker of power inverters for renewable systems will affix a logo declaring its 100-percent green energy status to all products shipped out of the factory.

"The energy crisis is a lot about panic and digging in your heels--how can we retread what we've done in the past? What you're doing is really about opportunity, taking the opportunity to invest in things that are innovative and strategic," said Nancy Hirsh of the Northwest Energy Coalition at the April 4 event.

Green Tags

Xantrex, Batdorf & Bronson and Global Energy Concepts aren't the first Northwest businesses to buy green tags through BEF. CH2M Hill agreed to do so last September (see Con.WEB, Sept. 29, 2000). But CH2M Hill's three-year, $15,000 purchase accounts for slightly more than 5 percent of its power needs, while the new signees have gone all green. "These three companies have blown us away with their 100-percent commitment," said Rachel Shimshak of Renewable Northwest Project at the April 4 ceremony.

Duncan described green tags as "basically green power without the transmission path, and without the fiction of actual green power delivered to your house. You buy an environmental improvement in the mix of electricity that's coming into the grid."

The foundation has an "ongoing supply contract" with Bonneville Power Administration for green tags--representing the environmental attributes--of BPA renewable projects including wind and solar, he told Con.WEB later. These environmental benefits are calculated on the basis of pollution avoided from fossil-fuel-fired power sources, using a Northwest Power Planning Council computer model. The non-profit BEF then sells the green tags to customers and invests the revenues in new renewables, principally wind, solar and waste-to-energy (such as landfill-gas) projects, according to Duncan. Until such ventures start producing power, customers receive green tags from existing but relatively new renewable sources.

Nationally, the price premium for green tags and retail green power lies in the range of 2 to 5 cents/KWh, according to Duncan. "We are generally at or below . . . the lower end of that range," although he didn't divulge specifics.

Business Perspectives

Xantrex official Ron Pitt joked that the company's board of directors have accused him of having "lost my fiscal marbles" on occasion. "This is not one of those times," he said of the green tag agreement.

Xantrex makes advanced power electronics suitable for small-scale renewable energy systems. "When this opportunity came to us, it was frankly a no-brainer," he said, as it represented "a chance to give back to the industry some of what we've gotten from it."

Pitt, vice-president/general manager for the company's distributed residential and commercial markets, also discussed the "value proposition" of green tags. "The money we invest into this program gets right back into developing new [renewable] generation. In the end, in this time of fear, uncertainty and doubt, that's what going to be the end solution. We're part of the solution, not the problem."

Xantrex also will place a logo with the tag line "MANUFACTURED WITH 100% GREEN ENERGY" on each of the 75,000-plus product boxes that leave the Arlington plant each year. "An important piece of the message of this opportunity is to communicate to residential and commercial people around the country," said marketing director Kevin Hagen.
Courtesy of Xantrex

Snohomish PUD will effectively serve as an "intermediary party" in Xantrex's green tag purchase, according to Duncan. PUD assistant general manager John White lauded the arrangement, as it "enables retail customers to live up to their core values . . . It's a good example of what a market situation can bring." PUD commissioner Kathleen Vaughn praised the "forward-thinking companies," and added, "The key to stable electric rates is investments in renewable energy."

Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters is buying green tags for its offices in Olympia and Atlanta. The company's Scott Merle noted increasing demand for sustainably produced coffee--made in the shade, organically grown, traded freely. "We can't expect farmers from poor countries to shoulder the burden of sustainability" by themselves, he said. "We have to be to willing to shoulder those costs," and purchasing green tags helps meet that goal.

Global Energy Concepts is an engineering and energy technology consulting company based in Kirkland, east of Seattle. Robert Poore said buying green tags clearly benefits the environment, but it's also good business for his company. "The two most important things for a business are its employees and customers," he said, reporting "100-percent support" from the company's workers for the green tag purchase. "Everyone thought it was a great thing to do." In addition, "We're basically supporting our customers by doing this. We should do business in a manner that supports our children. It's the right thing to do for business, not just for society."

The three businesses were lauded by Paul Horton of Climate Solutions for vastly exceeding the benchmarks of the Northwest Clean Energy Challenge, which recognizes businesses that buy green power for minimum load percentages ranging from 3 percent to 10 percent. Duncan read commendatory letters from BPA acting administrator Steve Wright and Northwest Power Planning Council chairman Larry Cassidy.

Green Tag Issues

Green tags are a relatively new concept, even more so than retail green power. BEF touts green tags as generally less expensive than green power, simple to transact, guaranteed to support new renewables, unchanging for a customer's electric service, and available anywhere--even, and especially, outside service territories of utilities that offer retail green power. Neither Snohomish PUD nor Puget Sound Energy (which serves Batdorf & Bronson in Olympia and Global Energy Concepts in Kirkland) provide green power for retail customers, although Snohomish has bought 10 MW of wholesale green power from BPA.

Duncan sees a couple of primary challenges in selling green tags to businesses.

"The biggest challenge is that until our federal government says CO2 is an issue of concern, and we're going to do something about it as a country, and we will recognize actions that businesses take in advance--until that happens, the incentive to be an early adopter is maybe not as great as it ought to be," he said. "Which means we really need to focus on companies that see a purchase of green tags as both consistent with their internal values and consistent with a business advantage they see for themselves."

Another challenge is the abstract nature of green tags, and trying to explain how they work. But Duncan believes this can be easily overcome by focusing on green tags as a means to change the mix of grid power, by adding more renewables and displacing fossil-fueled electricity.

In a presentation at a Northwest green power conference near Seattle in September, Keith Avery of Enron Wind listed several other challenges for green tags: transmission availability and access for the new renewables, the requirement of commodity markets for commodities, varying definitions of green power, the possibility that environmental and economic benefits (such as tax revenues and jobs) may not be local, coordinating diverse participants, and, "the hardest part to deal with," the fact that green tags represent a "new product, new market, new process."--Mark Ohrenschall

***Return to Contents

Choices, Choices

Oregon IOU Residential Customers Can Soon Choose from
Among Portfolio of Rate Options, Including Renewables

Residential electric customers of Oregon investor-owned utilities will soon be able to choose a time-of-use rate, one of several green resource rates, or an environmental mitigation rate, in addition to the traditional cost-of-service rate now offered by Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp.

The Oregon Public Utility Commission on March 20 approved the new portfolio of options, which will also be offered to small non-residential customers, beginning Oct. 1. Oregon's electric industry restructuring law requires the two IOUs to offer a market-based option and at least one renewable resource rate by the October deadline.

Actual tariffs for the rate options still must be developed and some of the finer points worked out, but members of the Portfolio Advisory Committee, which developed the options, are pleased with the proposal. So are renewable energy advocates. "This portfolio will allow smaller utility customers meaningful choices that will further stimulate the market for renewable energy," said Peter West, assistant director of Renewable Northwest Project, in a news release.

The next step is for the OPUC to approve a bidding process for the renewable resource options, according to OPUC senior utility analyst Rebecca Hathhorn, who served on the advisory group. This bidding process should occur "extremely expeditiously," she said, as the utilities must file tariffs for the new options by June 1.

Renewable Energy Options

The renewable options include a renewable resources block, in which customers can opt to buy a monthly block of power from wind or other renewable resources, with the rest of their power priced at the cost-of-service rate. Customers can determine how much power they want to earmark as renewable, said RNP's West, who also serves on the Portfolio Advisory Group.

The other renewable option--the renewable resources blended product--allows customers to shift all their demand off the cost-of-service rate. At least 50 percent of the power must come from renewable resources--and 15 percent of that, new renewables--while the other 50 percent can come from conventional sources of energy, as long as emissions from those sources meet the regional system average as well as the carbon dioxide standard set by Oregon's energy facility siting law.

While the upcoming request for proposals will provide some of the resources for these renewable options, Hathhorn said the two utilities will also continue the renewable options they currently offer. "One of the things the committee did was try to build on the momentum that's already there," she said, in such programs as PacifiCorp's Blue Sky wind power offering and PGE's Earth Friendly Power Program.

In fact, in a separate action, the OPUC approved PacifiCorp's proposal to lower the cost of its Blue Sky tariff from $4.75 per 100-kilowatt-hour block to $2.95.

Oregon IOU customers also will be able to select an "environmental mitigation product," in which they add a voluntary monetary contribution for fish mitigation efforts to their renewable blended rate. PGE's Salmon Friendly offering is the model for this option, according to West. PacifiCorp will need to develop a similar product, he noted.

Under the state's 1999 restructuring legislation, PacifiCorp and PGE are required to offer a market-based rate to residential and small business customers. But "it was clear that putting customers on the spot rate was ridiculous," said Brian Soth, PGE's director of retail energy products.

Time-of-Use Rate

Instead, the portfolio advisory group developed the time-of-use rate, under which rates would vary depending on the time of day a customer uses electricity. Prices would be highest, of course, during peak hours--probably 6 a.m. to 9 a.m weekday mornings and several hours weekday evenings. Rates would be lowest for off-peak use, overnight and weekends. Customers would pay something in between for electricity use at midpeak times--typically midday weekdays. "This provides customers with market signals without harming them," Soth said. The actual hours for the different times of use haven't yet been set, nor have the rates themselves; these will be included in the June 1 filings.

Customers would have to commit to the time-of-use rates for one year, but would receive a guarantee that for the first year they would be no worse off under the time-of-use option than if they had stayed with the cost-of-service rate. The cost of providing interval meters needed to implement time-of-use tracking will be figured into the rates, rather than charged directly to the individual customer. "The theory was that at least for the time the person is on the program, they are benefiting the [power] system and the entire [customer] class," said portfolio advisory group member Jason Eisdorfer of Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon. "If we didn't do that, no one would ever select this program," he said. As designed, however, "It's a good opportunity to see how people will respond" to time-of-use rates.

The interval meters are "imperative for viability from our standpoint," said Soth, "and so the customer sees that what they do has an effect."

Still uncertain is whether there will be a cost for switching among options--and exactly which commercial customers will qualify for the options as small non-residential customers. The OPUC hopes to approve the final tariffs by Aug. 1, so the utilities can send information to customers by the middle of that month, in preparation for implementing the tariffs by Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, the portfolio advisory group won't be disbanding. "We will re-examine these options on a yearly basis," said West, "and make midcourse corrections" as needed. --Jude Noland

More Information:

***Return to Contents


Downward Slide

Northwest Utility Energy Savings Drop 40 Percent from
1997 to 2000, Regional Technical Forum Survey Finds

Utility-reported energy savings in the Pacific Northwest dropped nearly 40 percent from 1997 to 2000, according to a newly released survey by the Regional Technical Forum.

The RTF study further documents the decline of energy conservation across the Northwest since the mid-1990s. It found collective utility-reported savings of 49.91 average megawatts in 1997, 36.56 aMW in 1998, 35.06 aMW in 1999 and 30.61 aMW in 2000. Meanwhile, utility-reported conservation spending plunged from $86.7 million in 1997 to $54.4 million in 2000, a drop of about 37 percent.

These downward conservation trends do not uniformly apply to the 105 Northwest utilities that responded to the survey--some actually increased their energy savings over the four-year period. In addition, the RTF's utility-supplied data are somewhat inconsistent and incomplete across the region. This is a "more cursory" summary than the Green Books assembled by the Northwest Power Planning Council in the early- to mid-1990s, acknowledged RTF member Ken Corum of the Council. It's probably accurate regionwide within a margin of error of 10 to 15 percent, he said.

Nevertheless, Corum told Con.WEB, "The general shape of what's been going on in the way of conservation is reasonably well-reflected here. It's much lower than it was in the mid-1990s." But Corum also expects regional conservation numbers to rise again: "In the next two to three years I think we'll see some rebound."

Conservation Survey

The RTF undertook this survey of utility conservation upon the recommendation of the Regional Review Steering Committee, which urged the forum to track Northwest progress in meeting energy-saving and renewable energy goals. Utilities around the region were sent questionnaires inquiring about their total savings and spending on conservation from 1997 to 2000.

The most recent Green Book, published in February 1996, showed regional utility savings peaked at 135.7 aMW in 1993, according to a Council summary of first-year utility-funded ventures by Bonneville Power Administration, the region's six major investor-owned utilities and four large publicly owned utilities. Total savings dropped to 121.4 aMW in 1994 and were expected to come in about the same in 1995. At that time, the Council projected declines to 70 aMW annually in 1996 and 1997 and 60 aMW in 1998 and 1999, as avoided costs lowered for other resources.

"The Council recognizes that economic forces in the electricity marketplace are making conservation more difficult to pursue as a utility resource investment," wrote then-Council chairman John Etchart in a foreword to the 1996 Green Book. ". . . One reason future conservation levels will probably be lower than in the past is the fact that our region has so successfully captured the conservation opportunities that were before us. Many measures that were utility-funded in the past have now become standard practice. The Council estimates that in 1996 the region will benefit from about 1,000 average megawatts of energy savings as a direct result of utility-funded conservation achieved since passage of the [1980] Northwest Power Act."

152 aMW From 1997-2000

Another 152.1 aMW were collectively reported by utilities in 1997-2000, according to a summary of the RTF survey. The year-to-year decline--from 49.9 aMW in 1997 to 30.6 aMW in 2000--"doesn't surprise anybody," noted Corum.

Altogether 105 utilities supplied data to the RTF. Some included energy savings in their territories from Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance ventures, according to Corum, while others didn't. Some utilities omitted one, two or even three years of figures, while a number of utilities (mostly small utilities) didn't respond to the survey. Energy-saving trends went down, a few went up, and some traveled both directions over the four-year period.

Nevertheless, the overall picture of declining conservation is clear, according to Corum. "It's somewhere around the right answer."

Among the investor-owned utilities, Avista Utilities and Puget Sound Energy actually showed substantial increases over the four years. Avista reported 3 aMW in 1997, rising to a projected 5.1 aMW in 2000. Puget went from 0.46 aMW in 1997 all the way up to 6.49 aMW in 2000. Idaho Power, Montana Power, PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric showed overall declines from 1997 onward, although with variations in the trend lines. PGE reported the largest single-year conservation total among the IOUs in the four-year period: 8.18 aMW in 1997.

Public-power conservation reports revealed similarly uneven energy-saving numbers. The biggest such utility, Seattle City Light, rose from 4.76 aMW in 1997, 7.45 aMW in 1999, and 6.42 aMW in 2000. Eugene Water & Electric Board dropped from 2.7 aMw in 1997 to 1.6 aMW in 1998--as its BPA funding plummeted--with subsequent energy-saving increases in 1999 and 2000. Tacoma Power and Snohomish PUD only reported two of the four years.

Smaller public-power utilities also exhibit a range of results. In many but not all cases the reported energy-saving declines track with big cuts in BPA conservation funding. "A lot of them were very, very dependent on Bonneville," said Corum.

BPA has separately reported its own conservation declines, which continued a downward slide in fiscal year 1999, totalling 29.3 aMw, the lowest since 1991, according to BPA's latest Conservation Resource Energy Data publication. But BPA officials expect this decline to reverse in coming years as Conservation Augmentation and the conservation/renewables wholesale rate discount initiatives kick into action.--Mark Ohrenschall

More Information:

***Return to Contents


California Gov. Davis Signs
$850 Million Conservation/Renewables Bills

California Gov. Gray Davis in mid-April signed two companion bills providing more than $850 million for conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy and low-income assistance programs.

"This year, conservation must be as big a part of our summer as barbecues and baseball," Davis said, estimating 2,000 megawatts of load reduction this summer. Davis, however, reduced the legislation's proposed $1.1 billion funding by more than $250 million to align the bill with his spending plan.

Signed into law were Sen. Byron Sher's (D-Palo Alto) SBx1-5 and Assemblymember Christine Kehoe's (D-San Diego) ABx1-29, which provide grant and loan funding to cut the amount of power that homes, businesses and public buildings suck from the grid.

The funding includes: $50 million for energy-efficient appliances; $90 million for agricultural load reduction and energy efficiency programs; $50 million in low-interest loans for energy efficiency projects in schools and local jurisdictions; $50 million for innovative peak-load-reduction programs; $60 million for efficient lighting in commercial buildings; $35 million for demand responsiveness in HVAC and lighting in commercial buildings; $35 million for real-time or time-of-use meters; and $17 million for a statewide media campaign

During legislative consideration of these measures, Assembly leader Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks), who hammered out controversial amendments during late-night meetings, was said to threaten to cancel the legislative recess if the bills were stalled. In spite of the last-minute flurry, the conservation and efficiency measures may not produce significant results by this summer.

But John White, head of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, said it was "very good legislation, and a way to bring generators to their knees." The focus on conservation and efficiency, he added, "highlights that we need to do more than just build peakers."--Elizabeth McCarthy, California Energy Markets

Two Solar-Electric Projects
Win BEF Grant Funding

Two solar-electric projects, one apiece in Oregon and Washington, have received grant funding from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

One $16,100 grant involves a partnership with Eugene Water & Electric Board to provide a mobile solar photovoltaic system for Willamette High School in Eugene, according to BEF. Another grant, for $43,000, will help Chelan County PUD build solar-electric capacity for customers interested in buying green power.

These were part of $256,000 in recently announced grant awards from BEF, which also provided funding for six Northwest watershed projects.

Portland Business Wins
Energy Efficiency Award

A Portland business has been honored for energy efficiency in the seventh annual BEST Business Awards.

CNF Inc. received the award "for building a wide range of energy efficiency--and other green features" into its new building in Northwest Portland, according to a news release from the city of Portland's Office of Sustainable Development, Energy Division.

"CNF's new building demonstrates how environmental and fiscal responsibilities can go hand in hand," said a news release from the management company of global supply chain services. Built to Portland General Electric's Earth Advantage standards for commercial construction, the company's new technology center exceeds Oregon energy code standards by 29 percent in the office section, and is expected to save $65,000 in annual energy costs.

Other BEST award-winners honored at an April 20 breakfast: Albertson's and Norm Thompson Outfitters, in the category of waste reduction and recycling; Consolidated Metco, for water conservation; and Progressive Investment Management and 200 Market Associates, for transportation alternatives.

BEST Business Awards are issued by the city of Portland, Association for Portland Progress, the Business Journal of Portland, Environmental Federation of Oregon and the U.S. Green Building Council.

More Information:

Alliance Releases Lighting,
Activities Reports

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has recently issued several new reports, including an assessment of the commercial and industrial lighting sector in the region and an overview of Alliance activities from 1997 through 1999.

The lighting report includes information on regional energy-saving potential, market share of energy-efficient lighting, and the status of lighting design and technology.

Meanwhile, the Alliance has also released an activities report summarizing the market transformation collaborative's work from 1997 through 1999. Among its findings are energy savings of 19.9 aMW, which exceeded projections. Other highlights include the sale of 90,000 resource-efficient clothes washers, stronger partnerships with retailers and manufacturers, and more awareness of energy efficiency in the marketplace.

BPA Wins Energy Star
National Award

Bonneville Power Administration has received recognition from the national Energy Star program for energy efficiency work.

BPA was honored in March "for its outstanding efforts that demonstrate environmental leadership while improving its bottom line," according to information from BPA. The federal wholesale power marketing agency was one of 39 national winners.

Bonneville's Ken Keating, Sheila Gardner and Suzy Sivyer received the award from administrator Christie Whitman of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Customer Publications Available from
Northwest Regional Group

Three customer publications designed for utility distribution are now available from the Northwest Regional Group.

The publications are "88 Ways to Save Energy," "Home Heating" and "Heat Pumps." They are described by NRG, a utility group, as easy to read and informative, and particularly timely in this time of rate increases.

For more information, contact Terry Kelly of Salem Electric: phone, (503) 362-3601; e-mail, kelly@salemelectric.com.

***Return to Contents

To print Con.WEB, hit the printer icon at the top of your browser. To print Con.WEB in two-sided mode, press file, print, at the top of your browser, then be sure to select print odd-numbered pages in your printer properties, remove pages and reinsert into printer. Repeat steps to print, this time choosing even-numbered pages.

OFFICES: Mail-P.O. Box 900928, Seattle, WA 98109-9228. EXPRESS: 117 West Mercer, Seattle, WA 98119.
TELEPHONE-(206) 285-4848. FAX-(206) 281-8035. E-MAIL-newsdata.com.

Con.WEB was created by the Energy NewsData Web team, including: Publisher-Cyrus NoŽ; Editor-Mark Ohrenschall;
Contributing Editors-Jude Noland; Cassandra Sweet
Contributing Writers-Jim DiPeso; Lynn Francisco; Kari Hanson; Garrett Hering; Amber Schwanke; Ben Tansey
Web Production-Michelle Noe
General Manager-Brooke Dickinson.


Please contact Mark Ohrenschall, marko@newsdata.com,
with questions or comments on this site
Copyright ©2004 Energy NewsData Corporation