Training and Human Resources
Originally published October 1, 2012
Whether they face statutory mandates or simply public pressure, electric utilities today need to promote energy efficiency and must fully tap the potential for making efficiency part of an integrated resource portfolio. No longer can energy efficiency be confined to a utility’s public relations program. To help utility personnel assess, implement and monitor the effects of efficiency programs, the American Public Power Association’s Academy offers a week-long certification program.
APPA Academy’s Energy Efficiency Management Certificate program prepares managers to develop initiatives that reduce demand and save customers money.
Launched in 2010, the Energy Efficiency Management Certificate is one of the most popular certificate programs from the APPA Academy, with more than 100 attendees and 40 graduates, said Ursula Schryver, APPA vice president, education and customer programs.
“This program is designed for utility personnel interested in starting a program or enhancing an existing energy efficiency program,” said Schryver.
The program consists of six classes over four-and-a-half days, covering all aspects of energy efficiency program development, implementation, budgeting, marketing and management. To earn an Energy Efficiency Management Certificate, participants must complete the required course work and, within a year, pass an online exam and submit an energy efficiency program business plan.
The course can be taught at a utility’s site or other location as a part of APPA’s in-house training program.
The Energy Efficiency Management Certificate program also dovetails with the APPA’s Key Accounts and Customer Service management certificate programs, said Wallace Barron, one of the APPA Academy instructors.
“Many of the energy-efficiency programs relate to customer service programs and the key accounts functions, especially the ones targeted toward commercial or industrial customers,” he said. “All three are interrelated in ways they never were without this economic downturn that we have.”
The class begins with an overview of the energy industry on the first day, and then covers various energy efficiency programs. On the third day, participants cover the planning process for an energy efficiency program within the utility. Class on the fourth day discusses the technical measurements of energy efficiency that are required to prove program cost effectiveness for the utility and its customers. Finally, the participants learn how to evaluate the effectiveness of the energy efficiency program.
“If you think a program is doing well and you haven’t done any kind of measurement or validation of those program results, you are kidding yourself,” Barron said.
Sue Warren, manager of energy and eco-strategies for the Lansing Board of Water & Light in Michigan, was involved in energy efficiency management prior to attending the course. She found the section on program evaluation to be especially useful.
“We learned how to evaluate the success of a program, not just in kilowatt-hours, but was it successful in any marketing transformation and how satisfied were your customers,” she said.
The program also covers the latest technology for energy efficiency and how to deal with contractors who may assist in implementing the programs.
“The review of some of the newest technologies on the market and how customers use those and the energy savings associated with them was valuable, Warren said.
Attendees said one of the best aspects of the program is the sharing and camaraderie that develops during the week of classes.
“The best part of the program was being able to network with other utilities,” said Jessica Wheaton, marketing and community relations coordinator for Traverse City, Mich., Light & Power. “We had a broad range of people who are just starting programs that have been in existence for years. Just being able to bounce ideas off them and be able to see what other people are doing was very beneficial.”
Wheaton took home the idea of using a bicycle generator to demonstrate the energy savings from using CFL bulbs compared to incandescent lights.
“You need to grab people’s attention and show them why energy efficiency is important,” Wheaton said.
Warren agreed, noting that sharing ideas with other participants is a big part of the learning in the classroom. She stays in touch with her classmates from other utilities.
“We still talk to each other or email ideas back and forth,” she said.
Attendees also got to compare programs at the various utilities.
“I had some reassurance that we were on the right track with what we’re doing at Traverse City,” Wheaton said. “We had implemented similar programs, rebates and incentives as other utilities across the country.”
Barron noted that most people end the class with 20 or 30 pages of notes. “They have so many good ideas but I’ll tell them to pick three or four of the big ticket ideas and run with them.”
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David L. Blaylock
Senior Vice President, Publishing
Jeanne Wickline LaBella
Robert Thomas III
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