Planning on Savings to Meet Future Goals

The Northwest is a national leader in energy efficiency.  Decades ago, utilities here joined the effort to promote efficient use of electricity.  We have seen one innovation after another to help us make the most of every kilowatt-hour that is generated.

As a region, we are relying increasingly on saving energy and using it most efficiently.  Utilities are counting on an enormous amount of “demand-side management” as a resource to serve their customers in the future.

Demand-side management literally means measures that are taken on the customer side of the meter to alter the amount and the way electricity is used.  If a residential customer buys an Energy Star refrigerator or a commercial customer installs state-of-the-art lights in a shopping mall, it saves the utility electrons and it saves the customer money.  If an industrial customer moves an electricity-intensive operation to the night-time hours, when overall consumption is low, it can benefit the utility and the customer.  These are examples of demand-side management. 

But how do utilities plan for these savings and how do they know they can count on demand-side management programs to provide enough electricity?  How do they make the transition from planning on resources they buy or build to resources customers actively provide? 

There are no easy answers to these questions.  But they are so important that utilities and other experts are engaged in a regional conversation to address them.

Our growing reliance on demand-side management is spurring major changes in the way utilities plan resources for the future.  They are working to assure that the savings we accrue today can reliably supply the kilowatt-hours to power our lives tomorrow.