Q: Where would I go to seek information on regional renewable energy and efficiency trends?
A: For those who wonder what goes on behind the scenes, there are a number of organizations that are spending their time and doing their best to plot a future that includes energy efficiency directives. These are mainly non-profits like the Northwest Energy Coalition, with direct community involvement that works with the utilities and particularly BPA (Bonneville Power Administration).
If you didn’t know (I didn’t) approximately one third of all the electrical power for the Northwest is provided by this government agency (BPA). Power comes primarily from 31 hydro-electric generation plants, and one non-federal nuclear plant. BPA has no coal powered plants in their system. According to their website, Franklin Roosevelt in a speech promised the next great hydroelectric project would be built on the Columbia River to prevent extortion against the public by the giant electric utility holding companies then dominant in the region. That is heady stuff to think the government created an entity to compete against industry.
Part of the continuing success was adopting mandates from the NW Power Act of 1980. Being an act of Congress, they didn’t have much of a choice, but this new focus was on energy conservation, development of renewable energy resources, establishing a regional power planning process, elevating restoration of the Columbia River Basin salmon as a priority, and assuring the region of an efficient and adequate power supply. Please remember this was right after the 1979 energy crisis (hopefully you remember that one) that finally made us wake up and take notice (for a few years anyway). This was a turning point where the BPA invited public, industry, and other utility involvement to assist in conservation and creation of a power plan moving forward. Matter of fact the Seventh Power Plan was just released after several years of crafting.
Don’t think for a minute that upon signing that legislation things were going to change. It required years of endless meetings, seminars, and face to face discussions (still does) to move from darkness to light. As members of the North West Energy Coalition, we are in good company and believe they are THE knowledgeable authority on regional power and conservation trends and policies. They were officially created in 1981 but the roots go back into the mid 1970’s with the formation of the 1980 legislation mentioned above. They can be reached at www.nwenergy.org.
Diane and I are heading to their fall conference in Portland next week. Don’t worry our shop will be humming along, but we feel the investment in this continuing education will be well worth it. It is really beyond the education, it’s deep into inspiration. When you are surrounded by members from all across the Northwest and hear the stories of success and unfortunately failure, we all learn there is a price to pay. However, look where we have been and where we are going. It is a fact with decades of empirical evidence that promoting and engaging oneself in providing conservation and energy efficiency services and products is a win-win. The end user benefits with lower operating costs, the contractor (AirWorks in this case) benefits from the revenue and the good referrals, the utility benefits by reducing load and minimizing additional infrastructure, and the world benefits by using less of our finite resources. Decades of taking the high road installing geo-thermal, air-to-air, and ductless heat pumps, along with high efficiency furnaces and boilers is something we feel great about and wouldn’t change a thing.
Give us a call with any of your energy saving concerns at (406) 257-1341.