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Hydropower Flows Here
A high-energy event devoted to saving energy
6/14/2016 12:00 AM
Two generations of industry leaders joined in a thoughtful, wide-ranging discussion of the best ways to tackle today’s challenges to energy efficiency. From left: moderator Deb Young (Northwestern Energy); Tina Jayaweera (Council); Roger Woodworth (Avista); Margie Harris (Energy Trust of Oregon); Rob Currier (Emerald PUD); Larry Blaufus (Clark Public Utilities); Allie Mace (BPA); Stan Price (Council); and Brendan O’Donnell (Seattle City Light). (Photo by Jim Maddry/NEEA)
Electrons may be invisible, but the region’s enthusiasm for using them effectively was easy to see at the Efficiency Exchange in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
More than 425 professionals gathered to mingle and listen intently to an array of reports on the latest ideas, innovations and efforts to save energy at the Northwest’s largest industry gathering of its kind April 26-27. Utility staffers, contractors and policymakers from across the Northwest – and as far as California, the Midwest and East Coast – were joined for the first time by representatives of gas-only utilities.
“This year’s Efficiency Exchange may have been the best yet, and that is saying quite a bit,” said Richard Génecé, BPA vice president of Energy Efficiency. “The opportunity for collaboration during this event is just unparalleled, and the insight into the technologies and trends that will shape our future was truly inspiring.”
The takeaway in 2016? Practices, policies, power prices – and even valuable personnel – may change, but the benefits of energy efficiency are enduring. (And new approaches to data and measurement will continue to prove it.)
The fourth-annual event saw heartfelt and humorous tributes to some of the region’s soon-to-retire lions of the industry – including Margie Harris, executive director of the Energy Trust of Oregon, and Tom Eckman, power division director of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.
“Tom Eckman has been absolutely fundamental to energy efficiency in the Northwest,” said Susan E. Stratton, executive director of the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance. “Since before the (1980) Power Act was even passed, Tom has been at the center of our industry. His passionate, but calm and thoughtful advocacy has been instrumental to creating the efficiency industry as we know it, and he leaves an inimitable legacy.”
Susan Stratton of NEEA and Richard Génecé of BPA encourage a large crowd to connect and share ideas via social media and old-fashioned introductions. (Photo by Jim Maddry/NEEA)
The conference kicked off with a general session on the Council’s Seventh Power Plan. Adopted in February, the plan concludes that energy efficiency is the key to meeting the region’s future demand for electricity.
Among the 27 seminar topics at the Coeur d’Alene Conference Center were efficient lighting, electric vehicle infrastructure, demand response, product testing, and new trends in data collection and measurement.
Amid the backdrop of historically low power prices, growing distributed generation and their associated challenges to utilities, a secondary theme emerged at the event – recognizing, enhancing and measuring the benefits of energy efficiency that reach beyond traditional cost-savings metrics.
On that topic, speakers and attendees explored how EE and demand response may contribute to such diverse goals as human health, environmental protection and transmission grid reliability. They discussed methods of evaluating and validating the measurable benefits of energy efficiency in addition to financial savings.
Another timely and vibrant session delved into energy efficiency’s potential as a capacity resource to both meet spikes in power system demand and defer costly investments in transmission infrastructure.
BPA’s tradition of expertise and collaboration was on display with more than a dozen staff members stepping forward to make presentations or lead panel discussions.
They included Brent Barclay (“Transforming Rural Markets for Energy Efficiency”); Carrie Cobb (“Apples to Apples: Improving the Region’s Tracking of Conservation Progress”); Summer Goodwin (“Low Income Energy Efficiency Cross-Fit”); Phillip Kelsven (“Non-Energy Benefits: It’s Time to Get Serious”); Erin Hope (“Energy Managers’ Thoughts on Incentive Requirements”); Allie Mace (“Building on Experience: Industry Leaders of the Present and Future Tackle Today’s Challenges”); Keshmira McVey (“Emerging Tech”); David Moody (“EE Marketing” and “Crackpots and Conmen: Adventures in Debunking the Snake Oil Salesmen of EE”); Matt Tidwell (“Short-Term Rates vs. EE as the Lowest-Cost Resource”); and Lauren Gage, Bonnie Watson and Robert Weber (“The Research Countdown”).
“One thing that is a constant in our industry is change,” Génecé said. “This is a very different world than we have faced before. … Events like this one are the best example of how we can come together and find the best paths forward for the region as a whole to continue our legacy of success.”
Finally, conference-goers got an insider’s look at how energy-efficient technologies are tested, refined and applied to local industries during tours of the Fighting Creek Landfill Gas Project, Rohinni Lighting and the Post Falls Hydroelectric Development, among other sites.
The conference is hosted by NEEA and BPA in partnership with the Council and utilities across the region. Next year’s event will be held in Portland.
All 2016 Efficiency Exchange sessions are
available for viewing online.
See a slideshow
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