Comment from Maunder, Jim
Comments to the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council on their 6th Power Plan, October 13, 2009 Introduction I’m Jim Maunder, Manager of Member Services, Ravalli County Electric Cooperative. I’m the Montana representative on the Power Council’s Regional Technical Forum (RTF). I’ve been involved with utility energy efficiency programs for more than 25 years. Welcome We’d like to thank the members of the Northwest Power Planning and Conservation Council for coming to Montana. We appreciate the opportunity to offer our comments on the 6th power plan. 75 Years of Service This year will mark the 75th Anniversary of Ravalli County Electric Co-op (REC) in providing low cost renewable hydro-electric power to our members in Ravalli County. REC has approximately 8,000 members and has 10,000 meters. Residential services make up 95% of our load. Energy Efficiency Since 1982 Ravalli Electric Co-op has actively promoted energy efficiency. To date our members have saved 4.7 million kWh (kilo-watt-hours). That is enough electricity to supply 494 houses for a year. As we move into the future energy efficiency is the least-cost option for our members to embrace and help safeguard our existing power supply. We continue to offer energy efficiency incentives for new homes, geo-thermal and air source heat pumps, ENERGY STAR® appliances and water heaters in addition to an incentive for ductless heat pumps. Our small commercial members now enjoy the Smart Grocer program, offering free energy audits and incentives for energy efficient lighting and upgrading existing refrigeration systems. Being energy efficient is always the smart choice. As 2011 gets closer energy efficiency is the cheapest resource available to the members of Ravalli Electric Co-op. It is also a very smart resource choice. Code Enforcement As the Manager of Member Services at REC, I handle the high bill complaints and one of the biggest problems for being able to attain a higher level of energy efficiency is the lack of energy code enforcement in Montana. Builders are suppose to self certify that the houses they build meet the current energy code. In Montana builder self-certification is No certification. More than 80% of the new houses built each year in Montana do not meet the state energy code. How can REC become more energy efficient when we spent most of our resources weatherizing homes that were never built to energy code? It’s a NO WIN situation. We would appreciate your support in helping to make energy code enforcement a reality in Montana and the region. Action Plan item Cons-5 needs much stronger language supporting code enforcement because, as we have experienced here in Montana, good codes mean nothing without strong enforcement. In addition, Montana is an island surrounded by land. New more efficient appliances and products get introduced in the I-5 corridor and Montana becomes the dumping ground for the in-efficient products. It takes 18 – 24 months before those products are readily available in our service territory. When new products or technologies are promoted by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) or other market transformation contractors they need to work with Montana utilities to bring them to our members. The Action Plan needs to contain language saying that the Council, Governors and states will work together to make sure that new efficieny technologies are transferred to rural as well as urban areas and that inefficient appliances are not dumped in rural areas. Regional Technical Form (RTF) As the Montana utility representative on the RTF I’ve worked closely with the six western Montana electric co-operatives and Mission Valley Power submitting special projects or programs for kWh savings consideration. One concern is the length of time it takes to get a project or program approved by the RTF. Another concern is trying to address cold climate issues and construction practices, which are quite different from those on the West side of the Cascades, through the RTF has been extremely frustrating. We look forward to the results of the NEET review of the RTF and recommend that the Council implement any changes to the RTF suggested by the NEET. Power Council Staff Meetings The six western Montana electric co-operatives that are full requirements customers of BPA along with Mission Valley Power (MVP) wish to thank the Power Council staff for their willingness to meet with us when they are in Montana. We look forward to continuing to meet with them in the future. Thank You Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to provide our insight and comments to you for consideration in the 6th power plan.