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Power Council: Northwest Energy Conservation Shows Record Year in 2007
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2008 (PST)

2007 was a record year for gains in electric power efficiency in the Pacific Northwest, says the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

The one-year, energy-conservation achievement in 2007 amounts to reduced electricity use of 200 average megawatts, or 1,750 million kilowatt-hours (an average megawatt is 1,000 kilowatt-hours delivered continuously for a year).

This is the equivalent of:

--- Enough electricity for approximately 146,000 Northwest homes

---- About half of the typical annual growth in electricity use in the Northwest

“Consumers are struggling with energy prices that seem to never stop rising, but here is some good news,” said Council Chair Bill Booth of Idaho. “Home owners and businesses are deciding to use electricity more efficiently, and this has the effect of lowering power bills and also helping the environment.”

The record one-year gain in 2007 adds to the region’s total energy-efficiency achievement since 1978, which now stands at 3,700 average megawatts. As electricity generation, that would be more than enough power for all of Idaho and western Montana combined.

The Northwest Power Act of 1980 made energy conservation -- improved electricity-use efficiency -- the highest-priority resource to meet rising demand for power in the Pacific Northwest. Then, as now, the cost of improving the efficiency of electricity use is two to three times less expensive than the cost of building new power plants fueled by natural gas or coal.

Staff of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council reported on the 2007 achievements at a Council meeting this week in Walla Walla. The Council’s Regional Technical Forum, an advisory committee of energy conservation experts, conducts an annual survey of electric utilities and reports on their conservation achievements compared to annual conservation goals in the Council’s Northwest Power Plan. The goal for 2007 was 140 megawatts, and so the achievements far exceeded the goal.

The annual survey reports conservation achievements by sectors -- residential, commercial, industrial, agriculture/irrigation, and low-income weatherization. The 2007 survey included results from more than 80 electric utilities collectively representing 86 percent of the region’s electricity demand.

The largest savings were in the residential sector, and the largest contribution to that savings -- 60 percent of the residential savings -- came from compact fluorescent light bulbs. Between 18.5 and 19 million were sold in the Northwest last year -- more than any other region of the United States in terms of bulbs per person.

Northwest sales comprised about 6.6 percent of total national sales, which totaled about 290 million bulbs last year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nineteen million compact fluorescent bulbs will reduce electricity consumption by about 75 megawatts per year, compared to the same number of 60-watt incandescent bulbs.

That is enough electricity for a city the size of Port Angeles, Washington, or Idaho Falls, Idaho -- approximately 55,000 people. It also is equal to the average annual output of 170 1.5-megawatt wind turbines -- the size of most wind turbines now in use.

The results of the survey are posted on the Council’s website on the homepage of the Regional Technical Forum: http://www.nwcouncil.org/energy/rtf/Default.htm

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