Tacoma Power started ramping up its energy efficiency efforts four years ago and the work has paid off. Not only do customers who participate in the programs benefit from lower electric bills, but Tacoma Power has received the first-ever Award for Excellence in Energy Efficiency from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).
The award recognizes Tacoma Power’s “exceptional creativity, leadership and achievement in the pursuit of energy efficiency.” The utility competed against other utilities and organizations served by BPA in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.
“We went from being a utility that was less aggressive than the best in the region in regard to energy efficiency to one that is now recognized as a leader in the field,” said Chris Robinson, power manager for Tacoma Power. “That is a big accomplishment and we are very appreciative of the award.”
Between 2007 and 2010, Tacoma Power increased its energy conservation savings by 950 percent. The utility launched more energy-efficiency programs in the past four years than it had in the previous decade.
In 2010, Tacoma Power set a goal to conserve at least 5.4 average megawatts of electricity – which exceeded state-mandated conservation targets. It surpassed its goal and saved eight average megawatts, enough to power about 7,350 homes, saving customers approximately $3.9 million on their electricity bills.
The utility’s energy-efficiency efforts do more, however, than reduce electric bills. Tacoma Power is relying on energy efficiency to fill its customers’ electricity needs for the foreseeable the future.
“We anticipate that conservation, a fairly low-cost resource, will be the only new resource we need to complement our existing power supply resources to meet customer demand for the immediate future,” said Robinson. “That’s a good position to be in – and is fairly unusual for a utility in this region.”