EERC Spreads Word on Energy Efficiency
Originally published November-December 2012
In a constantly changing world, public power’s unique vision must adapt to fit the needs of the modern-day power utility—and no other APPA service exemplifies the association’s commitment to meeting the changing needs of its members more than Energy Efficiency Resource Central, or EERC.
EERC’s website features more than 600 entries from APPA member utilities across the country detailing programs focused on energy efficiency, renewable resources and demand response. The goal, according to Ursula Schryver, APPA’s vice president of education and customer programs, is to provide the association’s members with a centralized resource to help meet the increasing demand for more efficient energy practices.
“Energy efficiency has been one of APPA’s priorities for the last five or six years, because energy efficiency is so important to our members,” Schryver said, noting rising costs and ever-present environmental regulations. She said the resource’s main purpose is to “coordinate all of our efforts and put all of our information in one place, so members have an easy way to learn about the importance of energy efficiency—why it works well for public power, examples of programs they can offer—so they can learn more from other utilities.”
APPA started EERC in 2008 to provide a centralized database of energy efficiency practices being implemented by public power utilities. While APPA staff had been focused on spreading the word about such efforts for years beforehand, Schryver said, “we didn’t have one place where members could get information on energy efficiency.”
“We’ve had some utilities that have been doing energy efficiency programs for 20 or 30 years, but a lot of other utilities were just starting to really focus on energy efficiency at the time,” Schryver added. “Utilities that have been doing energy efficiency for a long time, and the ones that are really supporting it now, are looking at it as part of their resource plan. They’re considering it another form of generation—so instead of building a new coal plant, which would be difficult to do, they’re trying to save.”
EERC’s website features a constantly growing database of entries detailing energy efficiency measures currently in practice at public power utilities—ranging from rebates on used refrigerators and old Christmas lights to community outreach efforts meant to spread the word about the importance of energy efficiency. And just this year, the database was expanded to include information on renewables and demand response.
“We try to update the records as much as we can,” said Mary Rufe, APPA director of information services, who works with Schryver to maintain the EERC database. “It’s designed to be a central resource for our members. It might not provide every answer, but at least it’s a starting point as a resource for public power utilities.”
EERC has developed partnerships with more than 50 joint action agencies and state associations to promote the resource and its database, as well as a memorandum of understanding with organizations like the Electric Power Research Institute and the Alliance to Save Energy. APPA works with these “energy efficiency partners to help share information about the resources available on EERC and also to help populate the database with new ideas.
“Those groups have closer ties to their utility members sometimes than we do,” Schryver said, “so that’s been a really effective way to reach out to some of the utilities that we might not normally reach.”
Once on EERC, APPA members can browse through sections of resources devoted to energy efficiency, renewables, and demand response. These range from news articles on the latest developments in the field of energy efficiency, to reports addressing key issues for utilities like the revenue impacts of efficiency measures, to educational and training resources for utilities attempting to implement efficiency programs.
“Members can search by type of program, by state, by utility, whatever they’re looking for,” Schryver said. “And it makes it easy for them to learn from other utilities and see what programs are most common and maybe most successful in their community.”
“Utilities can also enter the information themselves—so if they’re doing something and they go through the database, and their program is not there, then they can add it,” Schryver added.
The end goal is to further develop a centralized resource that will be a one-stop resource on energy efficiency for public power utilities.
“The main thing about the website is that’s where people should be going,” she said. “Public power utilities should go to EERC to get information on energy efficiency in whatever area they’re looking for. If it’s how to do it, if it’s case studies, or if it’s training—whatever it is, if it’s focused on energy efficiency, it’s on that website.” The website url is eercnet.org.
Beyond the database, EERC has also offered an energy efficiency management certificate program for two years. Schryver said over 100 people have gone through the program and received certification since its establishment. “It’s by far our most successful training program right now,” she said.
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