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Electric Executives' Forum - Summer 2001: Are You Ready?

Demand-side programs are all the rage as utilities scramble to find power to serve peak loads.
Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 2001

easy answer here. Given that 75 percent of our resource portfolio comes from low-cost hydro and basically has no fuel cost, I don't think we're going to bankrupt ourselves by having a few well-chosen contracts.

Have you undertaken any efforts to increase capacity for the near-term?

We have looked into putting small generators into our service territory as a reliability hedge. Because of the Pugeot Sound area's clean air problems, putting in more diesel generators was maybe possible but not very desirable. So we didn't go very aggressively there. We did look at some gas-fired machines that could have helped us out in the third quarter of this year; in the end, we decided not to do those as well. I don't think we're going to be incentivizing people who have diesel generators to operate them to help with the power supply. ...

How successful has your voluntary conservation program been?

The goal we set was to try to achieve a million megawatt-hours of reduced load [for the year]-a million below what our forecast was-and that's very close to 10 percent. You know, this city has had 20 years of very strong conservation programs. We've been investing $15-20 million in energy efficiency for quite some time. So, we've been doing a pretty good job of letting conservation investment meet our load growth, and I was a little nervous that asking people to cut another 10 percent might be squeezing a pretty dry turnip or something, but the response of the community has been great. We're down well over 5 percent; depending on how you measure it, we're close to 9 percent, in just a couple of months of working on the message. So, I'm very confident that by year-end, we're going to have achieved that million megawatt-hours in savings. I think it can be done.

Have you implemented any other demand-side programs?

We've got a compact fluorescent light bulb program going on right now, and we mailed out coupons to all of our residential customers, a little over 300,000 of them. ... About 50-55 percent of the coupons have come back [for redemption], and we've mailed out probably 120,000 packages of two compact fluorescent bulbs. I'm told that we are going to get to about 60 percent penetration of our residential customers before this is all done, and, you know, that's 2 or 3 MW. ... That's a good start...

We're doing all of the other programs that other people have shown are good ideas. Vending Miser is a good idea, [which is] kind of a screen saver version for vending machines, turning their refrigeration equipment off. ...

Are your contingency plans new, or are you just dusting off the old ones?

Sometimes it feels like to me that the next thing that can happen to us must be a plague of locusts or something because we've really had quite a number of issues-first a drought, then a major earthquake-you know, I don't know what's next. But I think the earthquake gives us a good indication that you've got to keep the

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