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CMUA honors utilities for outstanding programs benefiting customers, communities

Eight publicly owned electric utilities and water agencies received top honors in the 2020 CMUA Resource Efficiency & Community Service Awards for outstanding projects advancing best practices and innovative ideas in the industry.

The winners for the three categories - Energy Programs, Water Programs, and Community Service Programs - were selected by a panel of judges.

The judges were Tim Haines, former deputy general manager of the State Water Contractors and past CMUA Board of Governors member; Dr. Greg Pierce, associate director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation; Elif Tasar of the UC Berkeley Energy Institute at Haas; and V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT) based in Sacramento.

According to the program guidelines, the judges scored each nominated project in four areas: a) the program’s overall concept and implementation; b) originality, creativity, and innovativeness; c) promotion of efficient use of natural resources and/or serving local community needs; and d) benefits to customers and/or the community.

“These awards recognize leading-edge, effective initiatives spearheaded by publicly owned water and electric utilities,” said CMUA Executive Director Barry Moline. “Together, they show how we’re advancing California’s resource efficiency goals while providing top-notch service to our customers.”

Winners by category were as follows.

Energy Programs

  • 1st place in the Large-size utility category
    SMUD: SMUD Energy StorageShares

    SMUD Energy StorageShares program enables commercial customers to maximize the benefit from their investment in energy storage while minimizing SMUD’s cost to upgrade or deploy new infrastructure for the grid. In this first-of-its-kind program in the U.S., eligible commercial customers make an upfront investment to SMUD for program participation and, in exchange, receive a monthly on-bill credit for a 10-year term, reflecting the savings an onsite battery would have provided for demand charge reduction. SMUD bundles the investments from the program participants with the utility’s own capital and procures a battery in a location that increases grid benefits.
     
  • 1st place in the Medium-size utility category
    Alameda Municipal Power: Energy Plus Program

    Alameda Municipal Power’s (AMP) Energy Plus Program helps the utility’s commercial customers, with special emphasis on small businesses, save energy and money without all the hassles that go along with typical energy efficiency retrofit projects. The turnkey program, which launched in January 2016, provides AMP customers with a one-stop shop for direct-install lighting, refrigeration, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services. AMP says the program has been a “runaway success,” serving nearly 150 customers since it started.
     
  • 1st place in the Small-size utility category
    Kirkwood Meadows Public Utility District: Renewable Electricity and Propane Offset Program

    The voluntary Renewable Electricity and Propane Offset Program gives KMPUD customers the opportunity to use 100% renewable electricity and offset 100% of the greenhouse gases emitted from propane use. Each October this voluntary program is offered for one month, giving customers in the ski-resort community the opportunity to offset their energy use for the previous 12 months by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for electricity use and carbon offsets for propane use. Some of the offsets directly support the McCloud River Improved Forest Management Project, located 20 miles southeast of Mount Shasta, Calif.

 
Water Programs

  • 1st place in the Large-size utility category
    Modesto Irrigation District: MID Groundwater Replenishment Plan

    Following a very wet water year in 2017, the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors directed staff to look at how surplus surface water could be made available to help with sustainable groundwater management within the Modesto Sub-basin. To accomplish this, the Groundwater Replenishment Plan was created and implemented. This voluntary plan is designed to deliver surface water to eligible landowners outside of MID’s irrigation boundaries who are solely dependent on groundwater, but within MID’s sphere of influence for the purpose of groundwater replenishment through in-lieu recharge. The surface water MID provides through the program is for agricultural use only and participants must demonstrate that surface water received is put to beneficial use.
     
  • 1st place in the Medium-size utility category
    Mesa Water: Pipeline Integrity Program

    Mesa Water implemented the Pipeline Integrity Program (PiP) to creatively and successfully address the industrywide issue of renewing and replacing water system pipelines in an economical and timely manner. The program aims to keep the pipelines that are in good condition in service and identify those that need replacing. The PiP involves extensive system analysis, including non-destructive and destructive testing, to better understand the system’s pipe deterioration rates. This information helps Mesa Water estimate remaining useful life, make near-term renewal decisions, and develop more prudent long-term infrastructure budgetary determinations. The water district expects to save $230 million via the program through 2043.
     
  • 1st place in the Small-size utility category
    Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District: Hot Water Recirculating System Rebate Program

    The Hot Water Recirculating System Rebate Program provides an incentive of up to $175 for Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District customers who purchase and install a hot water recirculating system. These systems help push cold water back to the water heater to be heated and reused, therefor giving the customer hot water more quickly. This helps reduce how much water is wasted from going down the drain while waiting to get hot water. These systems cost an average of $200, so the incentive is able to cover nearly 90% of the cost — making it feasible for customers to take advantage of the program while also saving water.


Community Service Programs

  • 1st place in the Large-size utility category
    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power: Solar Rooftops Program

    Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) created the Solar Rooftops Program lease agreement to help homeowners install solar panel systems on their rooftops. LADWP will install, connect and maintain the solar panel systems, up to 1 megawatt, and either issue the customer an annual check of up to $600, or a monthly bill credit; the agreement is valid for 20 years and can save up to $12,000. To reduce PV participation barriers, there are no upfront costs, no annual fees, no credit checks or maintenance costs for program participants. The program is open to qualifying low-income, lifeline, time-of-use, and standard residential customers.
     
  • 1st place in the Medium-size utility category
    Redding Electric Utility: Wildfire Mitigation Plan ‐ Wildfire Prevention & Improved Response

    The dramatic fires impacting California led to the City of Redding's early implementation of a Wildfire Prevention & Improved Response Program. Under the plan, Redding Electric Utility has helped fund more than a dozen new full-time and apprentice firefighters and maintenance workers. Working with utility arborists, more than 50 high fire-threat areas in the community have either been cleared of vegetation or are in progress. Redding also has deployed a "strike team" of goats in rugged terrain to further clear vegetation in areas that are not easily accessible.
     
  • 1st place in the Small-size utility category
    Elsinore Valley MWD: Water-Wise Landscape Workshop Series

    EVMWD offers its community a variety of free workshops in the spring and fall that are designed to help provide customers with in-person training on being more water-wise with their own landscapes. The workshops offered during the 2019 series included Preparing Your Garden for Spring, Landscape Design, Irrigation 101, Backyard Composting, and Water-Wise Plants for the Inland Empire. Workshops are held at EVMWD headquarters and last approximately 2 to 3 hours, including a presentation and a Q&A session among the teacher and attendees. These workshops give the community a personal lesson on how they can implement water-efficient practices at home.