Energy Efficiency

Platte River energy efficiency efforts with utilities paying off: study

Platte River Power Authority’s collaborative work on energy efficiency programs with the distribution utilities of its owner communities continues to gain traction, according to a recent study, Platte River said.

“Homeowners and businesses in Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland who participated in one or more ’Efficiency Works’ programs between 2014 and 2016 built a total of 55,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of annual energy savings by the end of the study period,” according to a review recently concluded by Research into Action. The review also notes that “by the end of 2016, new energy savings were enough to cover the annual power consumption by approximately 6,500 of the region’s typical households,” Platte River said in a March 29 news release.

Platte River began offering energy efficiency programs and services in 2002. In 2014, Platte River and its owner communities joined forces under the shared Efficiency Works brand to gain greater efficiencies within common offerings while enabling cities to also offer programs unique to their respective needs. Since 2002, Platte River’s energy efficiency programs have reduced the need for approximately 196,000 MWh of annual energy production.

Both Fort Collins Utilities and Platte River had planned to conduct an independent evaluation of the Efficiency Works programs and decided to combine efforts to more cost-effectively assess programs across all four cities served by Platte River.

The evaluators reviewed both commercial and residential energy efficiency program offerings for Fort Collins and all four of Platte River’s owner communities combined. The evaluation focused on verifying program outcomes – energy savings in relation to investments in efficiency – and on identifying opportunities for improving programs. The study found that “investments in energy efficiency by Platte River, utilities and customers were more than outweighed by the long-term benefit of reducing investments in electric generation,” Platte River noted.

The study also offered recommendations to improve energy efficiency programs, many of which have been implemented or are under review for implementation. Suggestions include ways to improve program documentation, streamlining program participation processes, and increasing outreach to customers and local contractors. The study was conducted by Research into Action.