Northwest Efficiency Exchange 2016 in Coeur d'Alene

Conference highlights trends, opportunities, and challenges in energy efficiency

The premier conference for energy efficiency professionals in the region and beyond was held this week in Coeur d'Alene, and we were able to talk to a few people about their work to get an idea of what the future holds for energy efficiency.

Kicking off the event were our own distinguished efficiency experts, retiring Power Division Director Tom Eckman, Conservation Resources Manager Charlie Grist, Senior Energy Efficiency Analyst Tina Jayaweera, and Senior Energy Efficiency Analyst Kevin Smit. Here's their presentation (video and slides) on energy efficiency from a historical perspective and where we see it headed in the Seventh Power Plan, which found that almost half of residential efficiency will come from new measures.

The areas with the most potential are in lighting, heating and cooling systems, and internet-based control systems that manage those home and building HVAC systems. Keshmira McVey, energy efficiency program manager at the Bonneville Power Administration, talks about their potential:

One of the exciting developments in energy efficiency is the growing collaboration among all the various players in the field, both in the private sector and in government. Jodi Bellacicco, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is program manager for a pilot project that aims to connect clean energy small businesses with National Lab expertise, facilities, and equipment to help them overcome commercialization barriers. It's a joint project led by Department of Energy Labs: Berkeley Lab, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

Simple, non-tech changes like window coverings can also have a significant impact, as Katherine Cort of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory explains. Honeycomb designed shades, for example, could lower energy use 10 to 18 percent.

We also heard about the potential of plug-in electric vehicles to enhance the power system from John Morris, Morris Energy Consulting. PEVs could help reduce emissions while improving the efficiency and stability of the power system.

The conference, which continues to grow each year, illustrates why the Northwest has become a hub for energy efficiency development: When you have the opportunity to share the knowledge of so many people, progress is possible.