Load-management program prepares to expand

Published 10:28 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Contributing Editor

Moving ahead with a plan to expand its load-management program, Washington’s City Council gave its OK to award a contract to Buck Electric to install load-management switches.
The city received two bids on installing the switches. The bids were opened Monday afternoon prior to the council meeting.
“We had a lot of interest, but only two bids came in,” said Keith Hardt, Washington Electric Utilities director.
The city’s budget for this fiscal year includes $300,000 to pay for buying and installing load-management devices on WEU customers’ electric water heaters, heat pumps/central air conditioners and heat strips.
During budget talks in May, WEU Director Keith Hardt said having all qualified WEU customers participating in the load-management program would save the city — and its qualified power customers — about $1.3 million a year.
Last month, the council reviewed an energy management implementation plan that’s expected to reduce its electric bill and those of Washington Electric Utilities customers.
The plan, also known as the load-management plan, calls for installing 1,500 additional load-management switches during the next year.
City officials have said that load management is an effective way to reduce WEU customers’ electric bills and what the city pays for electricity at the wholesale level.
The council wants WEU customers take advantage of WEU’s load-management program, in which devices are installed on some electric appliances such as electric water heaters, heat pumps/central air conditioners and auxiliary heat sources such as heat strips. Those devices, which are radio-controlled, allow the city to turn off those appliances during times when peak demands are expected. That saves the city and its power customers money. WEU customers in the load-management program receive credits each month on their electric bills.
The appliances are controlled for no more than four hours a day for a few days each month.
In other business, the council authorized issuing a request for proposals to update the city’s comprehensive plan.
The council authorized proceeding with a competitive procurement process for finding a consultant to help develop the comprehensive plan.
Once a contract is awarded to a consultant, the recipient has 12 months to produce the comprehensive plan, according to the RFP.
The city’s planning staff will review the proposals and select consulting firms to be interviewed. After the interviews, staff will try to negotiate an agreement with the top-ranked firm, according to the RFP.
Among the things a comprehensive plan addresses are land-use and zoning matters, along with other growth- and development-related issues, according to John Rodman, director of planning and development for the city. It also sets policies regarding those matters.
The Planning Board likely would play a key role in developing the revised comprehensive plan, but the council would have final say on it.
A comprehensive plan will indicate where the city’s at when it comes to managing growth, development and land-use matters, determine where the city wants to be regarding those matters in 20 to 30 years and how the city will get to where it wants to be, Rodman said last month.
For additional coverage of the council’s meeting, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.