Archive for June, 2010

Energy Services Update 6-24-10

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The Treasure Chest of Energy Savings Tour of the islands was a success. We finished on Shaw Island with the biggest crowd of all. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in our, sometimes lively, meetings. Questions and answers were flowing! The presentation is now posted for those who missed it.

Also, check out our newly updated energy efficiency programs and rebate forms now online.

We are finalizing  set-up of the Home Energy Assessment Program. Those of you who have signed up for energy audits will be contacted in July. We will explain to you what the assessment consists of and hopefully put your house on the schedule.  We will have more detailed information coming soon–keep checking the website. 

OPALCO has initiated a public process to develop a new green power program called Member Owned Renewable Energy (MORE). Nominations to the MORE Steering Committee are due tomorrow (6/25). Click here for more info on the Steering Commitee and how to apply.

The Steering Committee will start meeting in mid-July–check back here for meeting dates, times and places. The mission is to create a new green power program including criteria, scope, structure and funding mechanisms and to present a proposal to OPALCO staff who can bring it before the Board for approval and policy making. The Committee will meet frequently through the summer with a goal of presenting a new program proposal in the fall.


Automated Meters (AMI)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

OPALCO’s Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI) build out is about 45% complete with San Juan Island (and surrounding islands) scheduled for installation in 2010-11. AMI means smart meters, smart grid and in the future could provide a tool for members to monitor and manage their electric usage from home.

When the new smart meters are installed, members may notice an increase in their kWh usage because their old mechanical meter may have slowed down and become less accurate over time. The cost of covering the gap between inaccurately metered kWh usage and the actual power bill has been paid by all Co-op members through higher operational costs. With the new digital meters, your usage and costs are accurately captured which can help keep rates down for everyone.

The entire Co-op benefits from accurate accounting—and also from the remote access for meter reading, problem solving, outage resolution and—eventually—the load monitoring and management tools that come with an AMI “smart grid.”

To read more about AMI, click here.

Energy Services Update (6/3/10)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Conservation & Energy Efficiency Program Update
Since December of 2008, Bonneville Power Administration has been working with public utilities around the region to develop more comprehensive rural residential conservation and energy efficiency programs—these are the rebates and incentives that we pass through to our members. These programs are funded through all public utilities Tier I power purchases—and are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to OPALCO members. With the latest update to these programs in April, OPALCO has closely examined all of the rebate opportunities from BPA and has created a new menu of rebate offerings to maximize members’ energy and dollar savings. The new menu of programs was unveiled at the annual meeting on May 1st in the form of the OPALCO Treasure Map (see it online at

Our goal is to run an effective program that gives our members access to the greatest opportunities for energy savings. In order to get the word out about these new programs and rebate opportunities, OPALCO is touring the islands in early June to meet face to face with members, explain the new programs and answer questions. The “Treasure Chest of Energy Savings” tour is coming:

LOPEZ—Monday, June 7th @ 10:30 am
Woodmen Hall (4102 Fisherman Bay Rd.)

SAN JUAN—Tuesday, June 8th @ 9:00 am
OPALCO Office (1034 Guard St.)

ORCAS—Tuesday, June 8th @ 1:30 pm
OPALCO Office (183 Mt. Baker Rd.)

SHAW—Tuesday, June 15th @ 10:00 am
Shaw Community Center

Member Owned Renewable Energy
OPALCO has a robust interconnect program—more than 60 members generate their own renewable power (solar, wind, micro-hydro) and interconnect to the grid. In order to better serve this growing demand, OPALCO is embarking on a public process to develop a new interconnect (or renewable energy) program that we are calling MORE (member owned renewable energy).  OPALCO invites member nominations to a MORE Steering Committee that will start work in early July to develop the program.

The OPALCO Board met in early April to discuss their overall vision for OPALCO’s Conservation and Energy Efficiency programs. From that meeting comes a directive that, as we work with the MORE Steering Committee, in addition to addressing the immediate need for a revamped renewable power program through MORE, we also look to integrate some additional conservation measures—beyond what we can offer through BPA—into that public process. The goal is maximize our savings and limit our load growth as a coop through energy efficiency and conservation at the same time that we add renewable generation.

Representation on the seven-member MORE Steering Committee will include one OPALCO member each from San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, Shaw Island, Outer islands, OPALCO Board Member and a Member at Large. Questions and nominations should be forwarded to Anne Bertino, Asst. Manager of Energy Services: or 376-3571.

OPALCO’s website ( is the go-to source for information, forms and contact information. OPALCO news is regularly posted online and in local papers. Events are advertised online, in local papers, on local bulletin boards and, occasionally, on billing inserts. OPALCO has recently begun using Twitter (@orcaspower) to post messages about power outages and we continue to explore new technologies for greater outreach. 

Vampire Energy

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Electricity is consumed all the time, whether anyone is home or not. The modern house contains a variety of conveniences that rely on energy, many of which you don’t think of as being “on.” These “Vampire Electronics” feed on your power and can cause a high bill.

To limit the energy that is being “sucked” from your meter (and your wallet), walk around your house in the dark and take note of any lights you see (usually colored) emitting from devices (especially phone chargers, TVs, stereos, computers, game systems). Either unplug these devices when not in use, or install a surge protector with a rocker switch that you can easily switch off when not in use.

To learn more, check out simple tips and practices or contact OPALCO’s energy efficiency office at 376-3571.

New Energy Services Blog

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

We have a new Energy Services blog to regularly provide you with updates about energy efficiency, conservation, and more!  We’re looking forward to sharing more soon.