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Counting on Conservation

Mark Ohrenschall
Con.Web, October 29, 2004

Council Targets 700 aMW of Conservation from 2005-2009;
Lists 2,800 aMW of Regional Energy-Saving Potential through 2025

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council emphasizes the first "C" in its title in drafting a regional plan for the coming five years.

Energy conservation should be the foundation of Northwest resource development from 2005 through 2009, believes the Council. The regional planning agency has targeted 700 average megawatts of cost-effective energy savings as a least-cost, least-risk, environmentally sound resource strategy during an era of apparently ample power supplies (see Con.WEB, Sept. 30, 2004 for more on the draft fifth power plan).

"The portfolio analysis shows that a sustained and significant pace of investment in conservation to be beneficial in terms of reduced need for more expensive new resources and reduced exposure to periods of high market prices, fuel price volatitility, and possible future carbon penalties," the draft plan said.

Council officials consider the proposed conservation campaign ambitious but attainable.

The agency's regionwide estimate of cost-effective and realistically achievable savings is 2,800 aMW by 2025, at an average levelized cost of 2.4 cents per kilowatt-hour. That energy amount compares to more than eight, 400-megawatt-capacity coal-fired plants, at about two-thirds the cost, the draft plan states.

The Council's 700 aMW five-year energy-saving target would cost an estimated $1.2 billion to $1.35 billion for the Northwest utility system, and $1.64 in regional total. But achieving it would contribute to net present value savings estimated by the Council at $2 billion to $2.5 billion over 20 years, for accelerated conservation compared to a lesser acquisition scenario.

Nearly half this prospective conservation, about 1,275 aMW, is found in the residential sector. The commercial sector could contribute slightly more than 1,100 aMW, according to the plan. Industrial conservation potential is conservatively pegged at 350 aMW, and irrigated agriculture efficiencies could save another 80 aMW.

For the next five years, the Council recommends annual regional energy-saving targets starting at 130 aMW and rising to 150 aMW ( see related story for the Council's proposed action plan).

The Council's draft plan is now out for public comments, including a regional series of hearings. Comments are due Nov. 19.

Conservation Targets
Although the prospective acquisition and spending levels are big numbers, there are regional historical precedents, according to the Council.

Regional Conservation Targets 2005-2009 (Courtesy of Northwest Power and Conservation Council) Getting 700 aMW over five years would be less than the region's average annual energy savings from 1991 to 2002, accounting for Bonneville Power Administration, utility and Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance programs, along with federal standards and state codes. It's also roughly comparable, annualized, to regional program savings in 2000 and 2001.

Meanwhile, the proposed spending levels are potentially less than average utility system conservation investments from 1993 to 1996 (in 2000 dollars), and lower as a share of total regional electricity revenues (nearly 4 percent was spent from 1993-1996; about 3 percent is projected for 2005-2009).

Many utilities already are planning their proportional share of the regional energy-saving target in the coming years, said Council conservation resources manager Tom Eckman.

The Northwest also can take advantage of more and enhanced conservation acquisition avenues these days, the Council noted, including the Alliance, public-purposes funding in Oregon and Montana, better regulatory mechanisms, standards and codes, a regional energy efficiency industry and two decades of program experience. Plus, higher power prices offer an economic incentive for conservation.

Achieving the Council goal will be "a challenge," said Eckman to BPA's post-2006 conservation work group Oct. 7 (see related story). Yet, he added, "I think it's doable. We've done that much in the past."

Conservation Potential
Much has been accomplished already in the Northwest, Eckman reminded the BPA advisory group: some 2,500 aMW from 1980 through 2001 through programs, codes and standards, and market transformation ventures.

Yet a comparable amount of cost-effective and viable energy savings remains, owing much to technology advances and rising power supply costs.

The Council figured more than 4,600 aMW of Northwest energy savings are theoretically available through 2025, under medium regional power demand forecasts. That number dropped to about 3,900 aMW of realistically achievable conservation, with the assumption some potential efficiencies simply won't be adopted. And, when a cost-effectiveness standard was applied, the Council identified 2,800 aMW of readily available and cost-effective savings.

Northwest conservation possibilities (under medium growth) have changed since 1995 estimates prepared for the fourth power plan. Technology improvements added 1,240 aMW of potential, while expected higher costs of generating resources (avoided costs) rendered an additional 767 aMW of conservation cost-effective. The Council took away potential identified in the fourth plan because of new and revised federal standards (730 aMW), utility program savings (600 aMW) and regional market transformation (170 aMW).

Sector by Sector
The region's most abundant energy-saving opportunities over the next 20 years, the Council believes, await in Northwest residences.

An estimated 1,275 aMW of cost-effective savings could be practically and affordably gained by 2025, which would cut forecasted Northwest residential loads by about 13 percent, according to the plan. Weighted levelized cost of these efficiencies is 2.9 cents/KWh.

Switching incandescents to compact fluorescent lamps would be the biggest potential contributor, tabbed at 530 aMW over 20 years, at a total resource cost of 1.7 cents/KWh. " ... recent improvements in product quality (size, color rendition, 'instant start,' etc.) and dramatically lower product prices have increased the size of this conservation resource by nearly tenfold," the plan said.

Water heating is the next largest category, at slightly more than 300 aMW, led by heat pump water heaters at 195 aMW. This technology has long been commercially available, but has not gained market traction, Eckman acknowledged. It probably needs a big regional demonstration venture, the plan said. Water heating tanks with better insulation and waste heat recovery from shower drains are other notable efficiency possibilities.

Space conditioning could furnish a similar amount, about 290 aMW, primarily through heat pump conversions or installation of highly efficient heat pumps, and weatherization measures.

Residential appliance opportunities are pegged at about 150 aMW, almost entirely from clothes washers (135 aMW). More stringent federal efficiency standards greatly limit further savings from refrigerators and freezers in coming years, the plan said.

In the commercial sector, the Council found slightly more than 1,100 aMW cost-effective and achievable by 2025, at an average levelized cost of 2.1 cents/KWh.

As in the residential sector, lighting efficiencies are the single most promising commercial opportunity, at about 335 aMW over 20 years. The plan lists high-performance T-8 lamps with high-performance ballasts, pulse-start metal halide fixtures, high-output linear fluorescents, ceramic metal halide and halogen infrared lamps, and CFLs and fixtures as among promising opportunities.

The equipment and infrastructure category (including efficient power conversion devices, packaged refrigeration, power management in networked personal computers and municipal sewage treatment) could deliver 420 aMW, while various HVAC efficiencies could contribute about 265 aMW.

Considerable energy-saving prospects lie in the practice of integrated design for commercial buildings, a projected 155 aMW at 2.3 cents/KWh in the Council's view.

A host of specific commercial measures are listed by the Council, 16 in lost opportunities and 12 in retrofits. The lost opportunities group is considered more cost-effective, at a weighted levelized cost of 1.8 cents/KWh, versus 2.5 cents/KWh for retrofits.

For the industrial sector, the Council draft plan lists 350 aMW of realistic savings, "at a minimum," based on analyses from the Alliance, Energy Trust of Oregon and other sources. These efficiencies could come from motors and motor-driven systems, lighting, compressed air and power supply systems, along with other avenues in specific industries, such as optimized pump systems and controls/process stabilization measures in pulp and paper.

The Council also identifies 80 aMW of potential savings in Northwest irrigated agriculture, from low-pressure center-pivot watering systems, more efficient pumps and reduced water leaks and friction losses.

Related Pages:
Draft Fifth Power Plan (including Action Plan and Conservation Acquisition Strategies)

by Mark Ohrenschall
Counting on Conservation
Con.Web - October 29, 2004

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