Archive for April, 2011

Nissan LEAF: OPALCO’s Electric Vehicle Journey Begins

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

To share our experiences – and our lessons learned – with the all electric battery-powered Nissan LEAF, this blog will host posts from OPALCO staff as they drive the LEAF.

Bev Madan writes: “Driving the LEAF from Bellingham to Orcas was exciting. It was easy to drive—so easy that I had to check my speed frequently as the car has a lot of get-up-and-go!! Because it was late, I drove the car to my home, watching the battery gauge closely. I calculated that I had enough battery power left to drive home (9 miles from the ferry) and to work the next day (11 miles). The drive in to work was tense—the gauge changes up and down, giving an estimate of how many miles are left to drive. At Massacre Bay I was at 16 miles, at Island Supply I was at 9 miles, and by the time I got to the medical center at the top of Mt Baker Rd the gauge simply had lines going across. A voice came over the speaker system asking if I wanted them to find the nearest charging station. At that point I knew I could at least coast into OPALCO. Needless to say, I made it just fine but it did make me nervous watching the gauge jump around like it did.

I synced my iPhone with the car when it first arrived and added the Nissan Leaf app to my phone. From my desk I can check the charging status, check how long it will take to fully charge, set it to charge on a timer (as long as it is plugged in), turn on the climate control, call customer support or roadside assistance, and receive e-mail or text notifications when the charge is complete. Up to 5 phones can be synced with the car.

Everyone who has driven the car is impressed with it. Personally, I look for any excuse to drive it! It is perfect for OPALCO’s use—errands and driving around the islands.


CFL Charlie to Make Special Appearance at Annual Meeting

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Touchstone Energy Cooperative’s costumed character CFL Charlie will be on hand at the OPALCO Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 14th on the ferry to meet folks and hand out prizes to energy superheroes (that’s you!).  CFL Charlie is in town to launch the Together We Save energy efficiency campaign and will be making visits around the County during the month of May. OPALCO members who come dressed in superhero garb will get a special prize. This year’s annual meeting is all about energy efficiency. Come learn how you can save energy and money – and how we can work together as a co-op to manage our load and through energy efficiency, conservation and renewable generation. It’s the co-op way!

Some Changes to BPA Energy Efficiency Rebates Offered Through OPALCO

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Twice a year Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) sends out its Energy Efficiency Implementation Manual. This manual outlines all the energy efficiency rebates (commercial, industrial, agricultural and residential) that BPA will fund. Our spring manual arrived on April 1st and outlines the programs that are in effect until October 1st. Most measures stayed the same but a few items of note are the following:

In the commercial world:

New small commercial window rebates: This measure is only available for electrically-heated, wood-frame residential-type construction buildings in commercial use with a total floor area under 5,000 square feet. Pre-existing windows must be single pane or single paned with storms, and replacement windows must have a National Fenestration Rating Council rated U-value of 0.30 or lower.

This is a nice complement to the small commercial insulation rebates still in effect for office or retail space less than 5,000 sf.

In the residential world:

The rebates for ENERGY STAR washing machines have changed to the following: All have to have a Water Factor (WF) of 6.0 or lower and the following if you have an electric hot water heater:

Modified Energy Factor MEF 2.0-2.19  rebate = $30.00
MEF 2.20-2.45  rebate = $50.00
MEF 2.46+     rebate = $70.00

If you have a gas hot water heater then the rebate = $20.00. the wasthing machines still needs to be ENERGY STAR with and MEF of 2.0 or greater and a WF of 6.0 or lower.

The rebates for ENERGY STAR Refrigerators and Freezers have changes too:

ENERGY STAR Freezers: $15.00 per ENERGY STAR qualified full-size freezer (7.75 cubic feet or greater)

ENERGY STAR Refrigerators: $15.00 per ENERGY STAR qualified full-size refrigerator (7.75 cubic feet or greater)

As always check out for the most up-to-date information.

Energy Superheroes Unite! OPALCO’s Annual Meeting on the Ferry

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Check out OPALCO’s 2011 Annual Report online. Learn about the financial health and overall status of your electric co-op, read about the Board candidates up for election on May 14th and find out what resources are available to help you save energy and save money. See photos of last year’s annual meeting and of OPALCO at work in the islands.

Mark your calendars for the annual meeting on the ferry: Saturday, May 14th. Bring your family and friends for a free ride and brunch aboard the ferry, great prizes and give-aways and to  learn how you can be an energy superhero in your own home.

Absentee ballots for the election will arrive by mail at the end of April. Each member who returns an absentee ballot (whether or not you plan to attend the annual meeting) is entered into a drawing for (6) $50 bill credits. Every member who attends the annual meeting is given a $5 bill credit (one per membership). It pays to be a co-op member!

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! Your power as a member-owner is to elect the board of directors who set OPALCO policies and rates.

World Watches BPA Track Wind Generation

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Think of it as a regional energy heart monitor. A near-real-time display of all energy feeding into the portion of the electric grid BPA controls has become one of the most-watched parts of BPA’s website. Instead of one line of heart performance, the new BPA monitor displays the output of all the wind, thermal and hydro generation in the agency’s balancing authority against the agency’s load. The display is updated every five minutes, every hour of every day and is now watched carefully by researchers, energy experts and curious onlookers around the world. Read the whole story.