BPA will bring efficiency proposals to Pasco meeting

PASCO -- Representatives of the Bonneville Power Administration are developing a long-range plan to support and expand energy efficiency programs among its more than 130 public utility customers, and they'll be stopping in Pasco on Thursday to discuss the proposals.

The meeting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express, 4525 Convention Place, is one of four the not-for-profit public power agency is having in the Northwest to outline its Energy Efficiency Post-2011 Proposal.

The proposal, according to BPA, envisions that almost 60 percent of the new demand for electricity over the next five years and 85 percent over the next 20 years could be met through energy efficiency. That's nearly double the energy efficiency targets of the agency's previous plan.

It also creates a framework for how BPA will continue to support energy efficiency, and the proposal will offer customers more flexibility in designing energy efficiency programs, Katie Pruder-Scruggs, a BPA spokeswoman, told the Herald.

Energy efficiency programs can include everything from promoting use of compact fluorescent light bulbs to installing low-flow water fixtures, applying weather-stripping around doors and windows, upgrading insulation in a home, or buying energy-saving appliances.

Pursuing energy efficient programs also is important for broader regional concerns, including promoting energy independence and green jobs and curtailing effects of climate change, according to BPA.

BPA's publicly owned utilities last year signed long-term contracts, which were the result of a process that involved BPA and its stakeholders in trying to maximize the value of the Columbia River power system, Pruder-Scruggs said via e-mail to the Herald.

As part of that process, BPA committed to addressing various functions affected by long-term contracts, she said. That includes energy efficiency because BPA's tiered rates provide a financial incentive for utilities to acquire the least-costly resources to avoid paying higher Tier Two, or market, rates.

BPA's customers have a broad range of staffing, capabilities and philosophies about energy efficiency, so the agency's programs must be flexible, she said.

Officials from various local utilities, including Benton Public Utilities District, plan to attend and listen to the BPA proposals. BPA is accepting comment on its energy efficiency proposal until May 26.

Energy efficiency is important "because the more we save, the better," said Karen Miller, spokeswoman for Benton PUD.

Franklin PUD spokeswoman Debbie Bone-Harris said the BPA proposal would give the PUD more control over local energy efficiency programs, "and conservation is best done at the local level."

-- Kevin McCullen: 509-582-1535;