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Northwest NatGas Players Form Coalition on Efficiency Programs

Bellevue, WA-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) on Monday became the latest Pacific Northwest energy utility to join a multi-state effort to transform the region's natural gas energy efficiency market. The Northwest Gas Association (NWGA), other utilities and state/regional organizations are part of the first-in-the-nation effort.

A goal of the collaborative effort spread over four states is to leverage what individual organizations have learned in their various gas efficiency programs to develop a set of energy efficient natural gas products, practices and services.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and Energy Trust of Oregon have joined the utilities and NWGA in a five-year, $18.3 million plan to work in parallel with NEEA's 2015-2019 strategic business plans in electric efficiency.

"This comprehensive approach will result in significant enhancements to cost-effectiveness and efficacy of both electric and gas initiatives in the Northwest," said NEEA Executive Director Susan Stratton.

"At a time of low natural gas prices, it's more important than ever to focus on expanding energy efficiency through our fuel-neutral mission." It is the first effort in the country to focus on natural gas end-use market transportation, Stratton said.

PSE, which has 30 years' experience offering energy efficiency for both gas and electric utility customers, expects the program to broaden gas-related efficiency, according to Bob Stolarski, director of customer energy management. Stolarski cited five areas of focus for the effort:

  • Gas-fired heat pump water heaters;
  • More efficient fireplaces;
  • Commercial rooftop heating, ventilation, air conditioning units;
  • Combined gas space and water heating systems; and
  • Improved gas clothes drying.

NEEA will coordinate the effort, which includes Avista Utilities, Cascade Natural Gas Co. and NW Natural.

The stakeholders developed a 2015-2019 business plan, which includes the residential/commercial initiatives, searching for emerging technologies, codes/standards reviews, and research/evaluation of natural gas efficiency. The plan is posted on the NEEA website (www.neea.org).

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