Archive for the ‘General’ Topic

Reminder: Power Outage for ALL of San Juan County tonight

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

September 15: Planned outage for ALL of San Juan County overnight beginning at 11:00 pm tonight and ending by 6:00 am tomorrow, Friday, September 16. This maintenance outage is being conducted by Bonneville Power Administration to test equipment at the Anacortes substation that feeds San Juan County as mandated by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). OPALCO crews will take advantage of this opportunity to conduct inspection and maintenance work on our system.

Members are responsible for their own equipment and OPALCO encourages all members to install surge protection to safeguard electronic, computer and other sensitive equipment and appliances. To prepare for an outage, members may want to turn sensitive electronics and equipment off at the surge protector, or unplug them completely – and keep a flashlight handy.  Click links for more information on surge protection, to learn how to prepare for an outage and what to do during an outage.

@OrcasPower Hits 100 Twitter Followers

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

If you are reading this blog, you are among OPALCO’s most “in-the-know” members. OPALCO launched the Sharing The Load blog in 2009 to keep members more informed about energy efficiency, primarily, and other important OPALCO news. In 2010, OPALCO began to use Twitter to keep members informed about outages, primarily – and other time sensitive news. As of today – September 15, 2011 at 9:30am – we have one hundred followers. If you aren’t among our first century group, please follow us @OrcasPower for the most up-to-date news on outages – and other timely news.

Thanks to all who visited us at the County Fair

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

OPALCO staff had a great time talking (and playing Plinko) with you at the Fair – thanks for stopping by to visit. In case you missed it, here’s a glimpse of the fun:

  • Members learned how to save energy in their homes by playing the very popular Plinko game crafted by co-op members and employee Elisa and Nate Howard. Prizes included school pencil cases with a cool multi- color highlighter and organic cotton backpacks stocked with home energy efficiency items.
  • You could ride a stationary bike to learn how much effort it takes to light an incandescent bulb vs. a CFL or make a smoothie.
  • If you signed up for one of OPALCO’s programs (MORE, PAL, Sharing the Load blog or Home Snapshot Energy Assessment), you were entered into the daily draw for a basket of energy efficiency tools and goodies.
  • You could talk with members of the MORE (member owned renewable energy) committee and learn how YOU can support local renewable power generated by your island neighbors and fellow co-op members.
  • You could check out the Nissan LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) – on display in front of the main entrance and learn more about how electric cars work.
  • And, the ever popular safety board display was a hit. Lineman conducted safety demonstrations and well as discussed current projects.

There was a great response of participants and OPALCO thanks you for doing your part. Working together through energy efficiency we can make a difference in managing our load and keeping rates lower!

Visit with OPALCO at Eco-Fest and County Fair

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

OPALCO’s Energy Services staff will be on hand to talk with members at two big events in the next month: at the Orcas Island Eco-Fest and Solar Science Fair on Saturday, August 6th at the Funhouse and, of course, at the San Juan County Fair in Friday Harbor from August 18-20th.

At the Eco-Fest, you can learn about OPALCO’s MORE (Member Owned Renewable Energy) program and how you can participate in producing and/or supporting local renewable power like solar energy; and OPALCO’s Nissan Leaf all electric car will be on site for a closer look.

The County Fair is all “Razzle-Dazzle” this year and OPALCO’s booth (look for us in the SW corner of the big exhibition building) will feature energy superhero information and action with games and great give-aways for those who take the “energy superhero challenge.” See you at the Fair!

Board Meeting on Shaw Island on 7/21/11

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

The OPALCO Board of Directors will hold its regular monthly meeting on Shaw Island this Thursday, July 21st. The meeting begins at 8:00 am and is open to the public. The member-elected Board of Directors meets on the third Thursday of each month, usually rotating meeting locations between Orcas, Lopez and San Juan Island. The agenda for each upcoming board meeting is posted online the week before the meeting.

Senate Bipartisan Support on Energy Efficiency Bill S. 1000

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Senate bipartisan support on energy-efficiency bill
Update provided by Lori Pickford, Morgan Meguire

On June 9, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (SENR) Committee heard testimony on legislation to promote energy efficiency: the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitive Act (S. 1000) by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D–N.H.) and Rob Portman (R–Ohio). The bill may be considered as early as this month by the SENR Committee.

S. 1000 includes updates to building codes, appliance standards, and industrial energy efficiency, as well as some financing options for energy-efficiency buildings retrofits. Highlights include:

  • Directs DOE to set national energy savings targets for residential and commercial codes and to ensure model codes are available that meet the targets; however, it does not federalize building code standards.
  • Includes a consensus agreement reached with industry to impose efficiency standards on certain appliances and equipment.
  • Includes a revolving loan program to help commercial and industrial manufacturers implement clean energy technologies.
  • Establishes “Supply Star” through DOE to help companies make their supply chains more efficient.
  • Authorizes the Rural Utility Service to make zero-interest loans to rural electric cooperatives. In turn, the co-ops would provide 10-year loans to their customers for energy-efficiency upgrades of homes or business, which would be paid back via their electric bills.
  • Expands the existing DOE Loan Guarantee Program to include efficiency upgrades to existing commercial, industrial, and MUSH (municipal, university, schools, and hospitals) building efficiency upgrades.

Witnesses included Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy; Kateri Callahan, President, Alliance to Save Energy; Tony Crasi, President, The Crasi Company, IncPhilip Damiano, Chief Operating Officer, Velcro USA; and Jay Scripter, VP Sustainability, Owens Illinois.

Generally, witnesses and Committee members expressed broad support for the legislation. Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska) requested that the DOE report back once it has finalized its review of S. 1000, asking the agency to focus on any potential duplication between existing authority and new programs authorized under the bill. She indicated that the Committee is sensitive to duplication of existing authority and potential fiscal impact on tax payers.

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!

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.

Coming in the summer of 2011 – New labeling for light bulbs

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Starting in mid-2011, consumers shopping for light bulbs will notice new labeling on packaging designed to help them choose among the different types of bulbs on the market – traditional incandescent bulbs, and newer high-efficiency compact fluorescent (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. The new labels will enable consumers to save money by selecting the most efficient bulbs that best fit their lighting needs. For the first time, the label on the front of the package will emphasize the bulbs’ brightness as measured in lumens, rather than a measurement of watts. The new front-of-package labels also will include the estimated yearly energy cost for the particular type of bulb. New energy standards mandated by Congress will effectively phase out traditional low-efficiency incandescent bulbs from the U.S. market over the next few years. The new labels that focus on brightness in lumens will help consumers make purchasing decisions as they transition to more energy-efficient types of bulbs. Under the new rule, the back of each package of light bulbs will have a “Lighting Facts” label modeled after the “Nutrition Facts” label that is currently on food packages. The Lighting Facts label will provide information about:

• brightness;

• energy cost;

• the bulb’s life expectancy;

• light appearance (for example, if the bulb provides “warm” or “cool” light);

• wattage (the amount of energy the bulb uses); and

• whether the bulb contains mercury. The bulb’s brightness, measured in lumens, and a disclosure for bulbs containing mercury, also will be printed on each bulb