While Utah Power & Light officials say they support calls for energy conservation programs involving commercial customers, they believe promoting the wise and efficient use of energy can be just as effective in stretching existing power resources farther into the future.
This approach is also expected to have less impact on consumer rates.UP&L is busy developing an industrial conservation promotion plan in response to an order issued by the Idaho Public Utilities Commission. But efforts are not limited to Idaho. David Mead, public relations director, said conservation and wise use measures are also being promoted in Utah.
Making better use of available energy during low use periods, such as late night hours, is one approach.
John Serfustini, who oversees promotion for the Utah conservation programs, said an example is the company's "Night Lights" program. UP&L works closely with companies to determine night lighting needs and design the appropriate system. Companies receive a rebate for efforts to eliminate excessive use.
"In Utah we are looking at ways to use our present generating capacity more efficiently," Serfustini said. "Our focus has been on wise use rather than non-use."
The goal is to delay new generating plant construction. Plants are usually designed to meet peak day-time power demands. Shifting use to non-peak periods, especially the night time, increases usefulness, reducing the need for new plants.
Serfustini said UP&L monitors new technology development as part of the conservation program. He cited a new air conditioning concept as an example. Researchers are working on a system that generates and stores cool air at night for use the following day. This could be a significant step in reducing daytime power demands if it proves successful.
Two model homes in Cedar City are used to test new technology and determine effectiveness. "We try to determine if putting those things into a home when it is built is worth the investment over time," Serfustini said. "Because they are expensive initially, we want to determine if they can pay for themselves."
Dwindling energy surpluses in the Pacific Northwest prompted the Idaho PUC order. Projections indicate current surpluses could be gone by the turn of the century. A Bonneville Power Association study says industrial customers presently use 69 percent of the available power.
The emphasis is on industrial use because few existing conservation programs address that concern. Many companies have had residential conservation programs for several years including grants, power audits and weatherization assistance. Now, officials want a similar effort made among industrial customers.
Mead said competition between companies generally forces self evaluations and cost cutting measures. Because power is a major expense for most businesses, many have already instituted cost-cutting conservation programs. He said UP&L will cooperate fully with the new request.