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Substantial Resource

Mark Ohrenschall
Con.Web, April 29, 2003

Council Finds 3,200 aMW of Possible Conservation Ahead,
2,600-Plus aMW Achieved Behind

Conservation is a substantial energy resource for the Pacific Northwest, historically and potentially in the future, according to the Northwest Power Planning Council.

A Council preliminary analysis finds 3,200 average megawatts of cost-effective energy savings achievable regionwide by 2025--the energy equivalent of serving nearly three Seattles. This initial analysis, released in early April, will be further refined as the Council develops its next regional power plan, scheduled for completion later this year or early 2004.

Residential lighting efficiencies represent the single biggest energy-saving opportunity, the Council's early numbers show, followed by residential space conditioning. The residential sector altogether accounts for 1,875 aMW of cost-effective conservation potential. Council conservation manager Tom Eckman described these residential figures as "pretty well scrubbed." He attributed the sizable cost-effective potential in this sector to advances in efficiency technologies (such as compact fluorescent lamps and heat pumps) and practices (such as duct-sealing) over the past decade, along with somewhat higher power costs.

Commercial energy efficiencies amount to 950 aMW, based on preliminary estimates, while prospective non-aluminum industrial savings total 350 aMW and agricultural conservation is pegged at 25 aMW. Eckman called these commercial/industrial numbers "highly preliminary ... You can view them as probably placeholders," subject to further information gathering and analysis.

Conservation standards have produced over 2600 aMW of savings. The Council plans to have firmer conservation numbers within the next two months, after which future efficiency oppportunities will be evaluated with other energy resources. An action plan will eventually emerge. "First we have to figure out how much [conservation] is worth doing," said Eckman.

Meanwhile, the Council also looked back in time and reported that utility/Bonneville Power Administration initiatives, state energy codes and federal energy efficiency standards have combined to save more than 2,600 aMW since 1980 . As of 2000, this conservation supplied about 9.4 percent of the region's electricity supply, exceeded only by hydropower (63.9 percent) and coal-fired generation (13.3 percent), and ahead of natural gas (7.8 percent) and nuclear (3.9 percent), the Council said.

Codes and standards account for about 1,100 aMW "at very little cost to utilities," and the utility/BPA efforts acquired about 1,500 aMW at an average cost of about 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, Eckman said. "This is really cheap stuff for utilities to get ... It's probably comparable in cost to some of the hydro projects, for what's embedded in rates."

Preliminary Conservation Assessment
The Northwest has accomplished a lot of energy conservation over the past two decades, but much more is obtainable, according to the Council.

In the residential sector, the Council's preliminary assessment counts 1,875 aMW of cost-effective energy savings available through 2025. Cost-effectiveness is gauged against market power costs, in this scenario a base case with average water conditions each year and a single fuel price forecast, Eckman said. Future analyses will examine a much wider range of scenarios.

Lighting measures top the residential chart, at 660 aMW. This is about 10 times more than the residential lighting potential estimated in the Council's 1998 regional plan, which was largely based on 1995 data. Eckman noted that CFLs in the mid-1990s cost $15 or more and didn't fit some fixtures; today they typically cost $6 and under and fit virtually everywhere.

Next comes space conditioning, at 575 aMW. Converting heating systems to air-source heat pumps is considered the most abundant measure, at 160 aMW, followed by heat pump and central air conditioning efficiency upgrades (150 aMW), duct sealing (125 aMW), weatherization measures (80 aMW), new construction (40 aMW), system commissioning (20 aMW) and air conditioner upgrades (5 aMW).

Heat pump conversions and duct sealing are prime examples of efficiency applications progressing over the past decade, Eckman said. "We've got a bunch of measures that because of higher [power] prices and because of technology advances are now available to use and they weren't in the supply curve last time." Meanwhile, the Council's avoided cost has risen from about 3 cents/KWh in the 1998 plan to 4 cents/KWh in this analysis, he said.

Water-heating efficiencies could contribute another 335 aMW, primarily from heat-pump water heater installations (225 aMW), but also from efficient tanks (95 aMW) and wastewater heat recovery (15 aMW).

Appliances are listed at 310 aMW--95 percent from clothes washers. The Council noted that the most efficient clothes washer available exceeds by 75 percent federal efficiency standards effective in 2007. Dishwashers (15 aMW) and refrigerators (5 aMW) also could deliver cost-effective negawatts to the region.

In the commercial sector, lighting also represents a bountiful energy-saving measure, according to the Council's preliminary analysis. Lighting retrofits in existing buildings could supply an estimated 250 aMW by 2025, costing in the range of 2 cents/KWh to 3 cents/KWh. Lighting in new commercial buildings is listed at roughly 200 aMW. The Council foresees continuing efficiency improvements in fluorescent, incandescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting, along with daylighting and controls. More efficient T-8 lamps increase cost-effective retrofit opportunities, Eckman said.

HVAC and window efficiencies could combine for another 200 aMW of cost-effective conservation by 2025, the Council reports.

Washington and Oregon commercial energy codes already set high standards for efficiency, but the Council describes further "significant" potential. Integrated building design and improved standard practice--as for example with lower lighting power densities--each could cost-effectively exceed code requirements by 30 percent, the Council said.

Beyond building measures the Council also forecasts more than 340 aMW of achievable efficiencies costing 3 cents/KWh or less in the commercial sector, including packaged refrigeration, 100 aMW; sewage treatment, 74 aMW; network personal computer management, 73 aMW; light-emitting diode (LED) exit signs, 52 aMW; water treatment, 30 aMW; and LED traffic lights, 14 aMW.

Summary of cost-effective residential sector conservation resource potential by major end use. Conservation potential assessments of the regional non-aluminum industrial and agricultural sectors are less refined, although the Council lists 350 aMW for industrial and 25 aMW for agriculture. A big question is the future of certain Northwest industries, such as pulp and paper, wood products and food processing. "It's more problematic than ever to estimate what the savings will be for existing industries," Eckman said. "We may see a completely different mix" emerge over the next 20 years.

In agriculture, energy-saving prospects will expand from irrigation efficiencies to "on-farm" processes, such as milking and milk processing.

Looking Back
As it released preliminary conservation prospects for the region, the Council also offered a historical perspective on Northwest energy savings.

In 1980, conservation was enshrined in the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act as the top-priority new energy resource, a Council news release noted. The Council's first action plan called on BPA and utilities to start conservation programs, local governments to adopt more energy-efficient building codes, and the federal government to create efficiency standards for appliances and new manufactured homes.

From 1980 through 2001, BPA and Northwest utility programs have cumulatively saved almost 1,500 aMW, the Council said. State and local energy codes--mainly in the commercial sector--have added about 735 aMW, almost entirely since 1990. Federal appliance and manufactured housing standards have added 375 aMW of regional conservation.

This total, more than 2,600 aMW, equalled about 12 percent of the region's 21,000 aMW load in 2001.

Eckman offered other comparisons. The achieved regional conservation equals the second-biggest source of supply on the BPA system, ahead of nuclear power and equivalent over 20 years to the firm energy output of three Bonneville Dams, he said. And, the 2,600 aMW moves the Council's 20-year load forecast developed in 1983 from a medium-high scenario to a medium-low scenario. He called that "not an insignificant change."

Related Sites:
The Fifth Plan's Draft Conservation Resource Assessment
Conservation Resource Development in the Pacific Northwest 1980-Present

Related Pages:
Bill Pushes Renewable Energy by Richard Roesler, The Spokesman Review, 2/20/03

Mark Ohrenschall
Substantial Resource
Con.Web - April 29, 2003

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