The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has recently announced cumulative energy savings across its four-state territory through 2008 sufficient to power almost 183,000 homes – enough to power the cities of Tacoma and Spokane – for a year.
The NEEA, a private non-profit organization supported by Northwest utilities and other state and regional organizations and groups in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, in its 2008 Annual Report reported that through 2008, the region had accumulated 556 aMW (average megawatts) regional energy savings, of which 264 aMW are net market effects at an average cost of about 1.6 cent/kWh. Further, with cumulative net market effects of 79 aMW from 2005, the region had already exceeded the NEEA’s five-year (2005-2009) business plan goal of 75 aMW by 6% the end of 2008.
In the residential sector 2008 highlights were the sale of 24.7 million CFLs, amounting to a 35% market share – much larger than the 23 percent market share nationally – and the installation of more than 100 ductless heat pumps as the ductless heat pump pilot project got under way. Ductless heat pumps have been available in commercial buildings for more than 20 years and are widely used internationally, but they are largely unknown in the U.S. and nearly non-existent in the region. Yet conservative estimates show these units are generally 30% more efficient than electric resistance heaters. During the first three months of the pilot, more than 500 contractors were trained in the technology and more than sixty utilities became involved in the project, which is the largest pilot of its type in the nation.
In addition in 2008, 8% of homes started in the region were Northwest ENERGY STAR Homes – a standard the NEEA negotiated with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the region’s four states.
In the commercial sector in 2008, 142 energy efficient buildings were started through the NEEA’s BetterBricks Integrated Design Lab Network, and 45% of hospital new construction in the region will be designed using a new high performance prototype product from BetterBricks. Also, 25 million square feet of buildings were benchmarked as part of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) contest in Portland and Seattle, which led to actions that resulted in nearly a megawatt of energy savings.
In the industrial sector the focus has been on the region’s two most energy intensive industries, pulp and paper and food processing, and in 2008 an industry-wide compact was reached with the Northwest Food Processors Association to reduce energy intensity by 25% in 10 years and 50% in 20 years. Further 20% of food processors with 250 or more employees committed resources to energy management, exceeding the original 14% target.
“In spite of the depressed economy and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, we saw [in 2008] a continuing increase in the demand for, and a strong commitment to, energy efficiency as the lynchpin to stimulate our nation’s economy and address climate change head on,” write NEEA executive director Claire Fulenwider and chair and assistant general manager Craig Smith in the report’s foreword.
Looking forward the NEEA’s new vision is to ensure energy efficiency is an important contributor to a vibrant, sustainable Northwest, the report continues, adding that it is estimated by 2014 the Alliance’s more than 130 partner utilities will have saved the region more than two billion dollars through their energy efficiency collaborative efforts.