Thursday, July 31, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Frontier CEO Says She’ll Beat Google Fiber ‘Hype’ with Better Prices “…10 to 12 megabits per second will be perfectly adequate for at least the next couple years…” (Oregonian, Portland)
Puget Sound Energy, Habitat for Humanity, Bonneville Power Administration Showcase New, Super-Efficient Manufactured Home (Bonneville Power Administration)
New high-performance spec delivers big energy savings, could reinvigorate manufactured home market
(BOTHELL, WA) -- Puget Sound Energy, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County and Bonneville Power Administration are hosting a tour of a new, high-performance manufactured home, July 31, in Bothell, just north of Seattle. The prototype home incorporates some of the latest energy-saving features and technology, including a ductless heat pump, heat pump water heater, efficient lighting, triple-glazed windows, foam sheathing on exterior walls and added insulation.
- What: Tour new, super-efficient manufactured home
- When: Thursday, July 31 at 10 a.m.
- Where: 18903 129th Ave NE, Bothell, WA 98011 (Holly Hills Area)
- Who: Meet the new homeowners, project sponsors, builder and vendors
“Manufactured homes built to this new high-performance spec have durability and performance features that could change opinions about factory-built homes and be an integral part of our super-efficient 21st century utility system,” says Christopher Dymond, senior product manager with Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, an alliance of more than 140 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations.
While the prototype may represent the manufactured home of the future, the Norahun family is simply excited to call it home. “We can’t wait to see our new home for the first time and learn more about its unique features,” says Tesfaye Norahun. “We’re so happy that we’ll finally have a home to call our own, but also that it won’t cost us a lot of money to run and maintain.”
The Norahuns are purchasing the home through Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County’s affordable homeownership program. “We are excited to be a part of this project as is fits very closely with our commitment to being a responsible, sustainable and affordable home builder,” says Kirk Utzinger, Habitat Seattle-King County CEO.
BPA, NEEA, Northwest electric utilities and other partners are collaborating with nine Northwest-based manufactured home builders to demonstrate the benefits of a higher standard for newly constructed manufactured homes and assist each manufacturer in their design. A manufactured home built to an advanced high-performance specification can save up to 50 percent on heating and cooling costs when compared to typical manufactured homes.
“Beyond more affordable electric bills for the homeowner, the goal is to establish a new minimum building standard for manufactured homes,” says Bob Stolarski, director Customer Energy Management, Puget Sound Energy. “Which means buyers will get a higher quality, more comfortable and more energy efficient home.”
There are about a half a million manufactured homes in the Northwest and more than 200,000 in Washington state. Since about 20 percent were made before the current construction standards (pre-1994 HUD), a more energy-efficient option could help PSE, BPA and other Northwest electric utilities meet future energy conservation goals. Estimates suggest that an uptake of high-performance manufactured homes in the thousands could translate to long-term energy savings of 20 average megawatts — enough electricity to power nearly 15,000 Northwest homes for an entire year.
“This new high-performance home creates a “good/better/best” option in the manufactured home market,” says Mark Johnson, residential energy conservation specialist at BPA. “And a new minimum building standard could deliver tremendous energy savings for decades to come.”
The entry of new, super-efficient models could also reinvigorate a relatively stale manufactured home market. “Manufacturers and retailers are excited about these new homes,” says Brady Peeks with Northwest Energy Works, Inc., an organization under contract with BPA that’s helping manufacturers systemize their building process of new high-performance homes. “And we expect consumers will be too, especially those who want to conserve energy and are concerned about their carbon footprint.”
The Bothell home is one of four completed prototypes. Three others have been cited in Toledo, Wash. (Lewis County Public Utility District), Pullman, Wash. (Avista Corp.) and Otis, Ore. (PacifiCorp). And another four homes are expected to be cited throughout the region in the next few months.
The project is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction” program. Other partners include: Community Frameworks, Ecotope, Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star New Homes Program, Manufactured Housing Associations and Washington State University.
About Puget Sound Energy
Puget Sound Energy is Washington state’s oldest local energy company. We serve 1.1 million electric customers and more than 770,000 natural gas customers in 10 counties. For more information, visit www.PSE.com. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
About Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County
Habitat for Humanity SKC, an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, is a faith-based,nonprofit housing organization that brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. Habitat SKC is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing through constructing, renovating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Habitat SKC builds more than houses — we transform local communities. Habitat SKC has built, renovated or repaired more than 390 homes for families in need of affordable housing in King County. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, please visit www.habitatskc.org, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
About Bonneville Power Administration
The Bonneville Power Administration, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is a nonprofit federal power marketing agency that sells wholesale renewable hydropower from federal dams in the Columbia Basin, operates three-quarters of high-voltage transmission lines in the Northwest and funds one of the largest wildlife protection and restoration programs in the world. BPA and its partners pursue cost-effective energy savings in all sectors of the economy and together they have saved enough electricity through energy efficiency projects to power four large American cities. BPA also pursues breakthroughs than can increase efficiencies, solves operational challenges and reduce costs — all of which help maintain affordable, reliable electric power for the Northwest and lessen impacts to the environment. www.bpa.gov.
About Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is an alliance of more than 140 Northwest utilities and energy efficiency organizations working on behalf of more than 13 million energy consumers. NEEA leverages its strong regional partnerships to effect market transformation by accelerating the adoption of energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, NEEA and its partners – including Avista Utilities, Bonneville Power Administration, Chelan County PUD, Clark Public Utilities, Cowlitz PUD, Eugene Water & Electric Board, Energy Trust of Oregon, Idaho Power, NorthWestern Energy, Pacific Power, Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light, Snohomish County Public Utilities, and Tacoma Power –have saved enough energy to power more than 600,000 homes each year. Energy efficiency can offset most of our new demand for energy, saving money and keeping the Northwest a healthy and vibrant place to live. www.neea.org.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Pacific Northwest: Nuclear-Renewable Mix Is Just What the EPA Ordered – “…This is what power companies should be. A public, not-for-profit, entity whose job is to provide reliable, cheap, low-carbon energy at cost, i.e. just covering expenses. (Forbes Magazine)
For Californians, Higher Costs Dampen Support for Clean Energy “…support for renewable energy quotas dropped to 46 percent when respondents were asked to factor in higher electricity rates…” (Reuters)
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
NorthWestern Energy CEO Rowe: We Are Not ‘Crooks’ - State of Montana must approve purchase price of $870M for hydroelectric dams (Helena Independent Republic, MT)
Friday, July 18, 2014
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Energy Northwest, BPA Save Ratepayers $100+ Million with Regional Cooperation Debt Agreement (Northwest Public Power Association)
(RICHLAND, WA) – Pacific Northwest ratepayers recently became the beneficiaries of a regional cooperation debt agreement that will generate more than $100 million dollars in rate case savings. This agreement supports the long-term financial viability of the power system, while preserving Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) borrowing authority for future projects that will benefit the region.
The Energy Northwest Executive Board ratified the agreement with a majority vote during its monthly meeting on June 26 in Portland. Energy Northwest Vice President of Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer Brent Ridge said that the agreement includes debt refinancing of three Energy Northwest assets.
“Last week’s ratification is the first of several opportunities for our executive board to consider debt restructuring as additional bonds mature in coming years. The restructuring of debt creates at least $100 million dollars of savings, with, again, future potential for even greater savings,” said Ridge.
During the meeting, the executive board approved extension of up to $6 million of fiscal 2016-2017 bonds and up to $321 million of fiscal 2014 bonds on agency assets.
Bonneville and Energy Northwest previously entered into a debt optimization agreement to refinance debt on agency projects in 2001, replenishing Bonneville borrowing authority.
Now considered regional cooperation debt, restructuring the current debt enables BPA to repay an equal amount of its federal repayment obligations within a reasonable amount of time to reduce overall debt service costs and to replenish current U.S. Treasury borrowing authority.
“This overall agreement will provide substantial real-world savings to BPA’s ratepayers in the Northwest,” said Nancy Mitman, BPA executive vice president for Financial Services and chief financial officer.
According to Ridge, the agreement preserves low-cost access to capital to create value for ratepayers. “The two agencies worked closely to establish and implement a broad view of the regional debt portfolio as a crucial tool for providing the region with prudent, long-term value,” Ridge said.
“This is the first step of a potential series of agreements that offers unique opportunities for savings,” said Mitman. “The net effect of refinancing through regional cooperation bonds is that both the weighted average interest rate and maturity of BPA’s overall debt portfolio will be reduced as a result of this agreement, thereby lowering interest costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and increasing regional borrowing capacity for infrastructure investment.”
During the 11-year lifespan of the EN/BPA Debt Optimization Program that began in 2001, BPA restored $2 billion in Treasury borrowing authority. BPA’s aggregate, weighted average interest rate decreased by one percent, saving $500 million in interest expenses for ratepayers.
“In fact, we have been working very closely with Energy Northwest for more than 25 years to provide enormous financial value to the region through coordinated management of debt issued by Energy Northwest,” said Mitman. “These mutually supported debt management actions have reduced pressure on BPA’s revenue requirements and rates innumerable times.”
Energy Northwest credits the success of the most recent agreement to its public power member utilities and BPA, as well as several other organizations, including the Public Power Council, Northwest Requirements Utilities, Public Generating Pool, and PNGC Power.
“We thank all of the regional supporters who continue to advocate for a safe, low-cost, and reliable power supply,” Ridge said.
Phenomenal Fish Runs Demonstrate Federal Salmon Restoration Plan is Working
(PORTLAND, OR) -- This week saw exciting news in the Northwest with a new record set for adult sockeye salmon returns and more still on the way. Today, the count stands at 551,530 adult sockeye salmon passing through Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, shattering the previous record of 516,000 set in 2012. “Anglers, Native American tribes, fishery managers and river users alike are thrilled to see such a huge run,” said Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest RiverPartners. “It is proof positive that the region’s efforts to restore these iconic fish are working.”
The flood of sockeye returning to the upper reaches of the Columbia and Snake rivers is expected to continue through July with fishery managers noting the run hit a high of 34,500 on July 5.
This is especially great news for the Snake River sockeye, which were listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1991 by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). In 1992, only a single sockeye returned to the Snake, and today the count stood at 740 moving past Lower Granite Dam, more than two times the 10-year average. A new “safety net” sockeye hatchery, improved salmon passage conditions through dams, river tributary habitat improvements and favorable ocean conditions have combined to bring these iconic fish back from the brink of extinction.
The great news comes in the same week that an assortment of anti-dam and commercial fishing groups filed yet another challenge to the federal hydro system salmon plan, or Biological Opinion. These perennial critics continue to challenge a plan that, as the sockeye returns show, is clearly working.
“In light of these huge returns, and more predicted later this year for fall Chinook and Lower Columbia coho, there is no denying that the region’s hard work and massive investment is paying off,” said Flores. “Sadly, the anti-dam groups remain in denial, despite the hard data.” The massive run comes just months after NOAA Fisheries, the agency responsible for ensuring protection of salmon listed under the ESA, concluded that the federal salmon plan is achieving and in some areas exceeding survival goals for the Northwest’s iconic fish.
“This week’s challenge from anti-dam groups continues their long history of litigation that can be explained only by their desire to force the removal of the large federal dams that generate more than 60 percent of the Northwest’s clean, renewable hydropower,” Flores added.
Total 2014 returns of sockeye at Bonneville now stand at 551,530, which is more than two times the 10-year average.
Northwest RiverPartners’ member organizations include more than 40,000 farmers, 4 million electric utility customers, thousands of port jobs, 7,000 small businesses, and hundreds of large businesses that rely on the economic and environmental benefits of the Columbia and Snake rivers. Northwest RiverPartners advocates for salmon restoration measures that are based in sound science, collaboration and cost effectiveness.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
(PASCO, WA) -- Basin Disposal Inc. is proud to announce the conversion of its solid waste collection fleet from diesel to natural gas powered engines. This investment in natural gas fueling will provide long term rate stability to Basin Disposal customers, as well as provide access to other commercial fleets, local businesses and service providers that choose to power their vehicles with natural gas. The new business line to provide natural gas will be called Commercial Fueling, LLC.
In addition to the new business line, Basin Disposal is in the process of converting 7 of their 70+ fleet vehicles that are running on diesel fuel to natural gas fuel. “I’m doing this for several reasons including the fact that natural gas is a lower cost fuel, it will provide cost stability and less price fluctuation for my customers in the long run, and natural gas fuel has about half the emissions as diesel fuel. I feel it’s my duty to help keep stable prices for my customers and to help lower carbon emissions in our region and our state,” stated Darrick Dietrich, owner and CEO of Basin Disposal, Inc.
“This conversion to natural gas is an investment in our community. The investment will allow access to lower cost fuel for our businesses and service providers allowing more dollars to stay in the region. As utility providers, it is our duty to deliver the best value to our customers, while meeting their service expectations.”
Please join Basin Disposal, the Pasco Chamber of Commerce and Cascade Natural Gas on Friday, July 11th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., 2021 N. Commercial Drive, Pasco, WA for a ribbon cutting and the launch of this new business.
Monday, July 7, 2014
Utilities Sign Agreement That Will Improve Fish Runs In the Cowlitz River (Northwest Public Power Association, E-News)
Tacoma Power, Lewis County Public Utility District, and Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) have signed a long-term agreement that will improve natural fish runs in western Washington’s Cowlitz River. At the same time, Tacoma Power and Lewis County PUD have formalized an agreement to work cooperatively when the time comes to seek re-licensing from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for their respective dams in the Cowlitz River basin.
“This agreement is the foundation for improving downstream fish collection on the Cowlitz River,” said Ted Coates, Tacoma Power superintendent. “All three signatories are committed to a new era of cooperation and mutual support.”
The agreement allows Tacoma Power to take ownership of BPA-owned existing fish collection facilities at Lewis County PUD’s Cowlitz Falls Dam, and to install, operate, and maintain improved fish collection structures at the dam to increase fish survival. The upgraded facilities will attract more juvenile Chinook, steelhead, and Coho as the fish migrate downstream. The fish will be collected and then trucked around the dams and released to continue their trip to the ocean.
The improvements are part of Tacoma Power’s 2002 FERC license for operating Mayfield and Mossyrock dams, located downstream of Cowlitz Falls Dam. The license calls for Tacoma Power to improve downstream fish collection and survival from the upper Cowlitz River basin.
Lewis County PUD completed Cowlitz Falls Dam in 1994. Under a formal agreement with BPA, the PUD provides all of the dam’s power (29.7 annual average megawatts) to BPA at the cost of production, and BPA pays operations and maintenance costs at the facility.
In 1996, BPA built juvenile fish collection facilities at the dam. The Cowlitz Falls Fish Facility collects about half the migrating juvenile fish from the Upper Cowlitz River Basin and trucks them down to Barrier Dam just below Tacoma Power’s Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. The fish are deposited in ponds at the hatchery and, after a brief recovery period, returned to the river.
Adult fish returning to the Cowlitz River are collected below Tacoma’s dams and transported to the Tilton River above Mayfield Dam or to the Cowlitz and Cispus rivers above Cowlitz Falls Dam.
Under the new agreement, Tacoma Power will construct new fish collector, to be operated in tandem with the existing facilities, at an estimated cost of $30 million. Extensive fish evaluations and modeling have helped identify that an adaptable shore-based fish collector on the north shore of Cowlitz Falls Dam will work best to meet Tacoma’s fish collection goals; it is expected to significantly increase the number of juvenile fish collected and safely transported past the dams. BPA will provide funding through June 2032 to partially offset Tacoma’s cost to operate the existing facility. The new agreement also transfers the BPA-owned ponds and related equipment at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery to Tacoma Power.
“All of us that own and operate hydro projects know that we have an obligation to put resources back in the river,” said Bob Geddes, manager, Lewis County PUD. “This new agreement gives us a chance to do that collectively and it also puts us in a good position for the future when the project is up for relicensing.”
Pending FERC approval, the key elements of the new agreement will go into effect on October 1. Construction is slated to begin in early 2015, with a goal of starting fish collection in 2017.