Before a packed Northwest Power Council meeting room on February 18th, BPA presented a reasonably detailed description (modus operandi) of the newly minted firm energy resource known as momentum savings. Ably presented by BPA and Power Council staff (with an prelude of his own Short History of Time by Tom Eckman, soon to be retired Director of the Power Division of the Council), momentum savings was quantified by BPA as a resource that will contribute 30% of the regional savings identified in the newly adopted 7th Power Plan. A resource acquisition of that magnitude would, according to BPA calculations, save the region’s utilities over $200 million dollars, making the already cheap energy efficiency resource virtually too cheap to meter. In this case, of course, that is literally true since momentum savings are not quantified through any utility meter, but instead derived from an analysis of stock and flow data from what is promised to be an expanding cornucopia of “measures.”
With a room full of energy professionals who at times struggled to understand whether a light bulb was part of stock or flow and how a frozen efficiency baseline compared to an integrated resource plan, there appeared to be no question that momentum savings had arrived on the scene. Quantities of momentum savings are promised to the region from lighting measures sometime this summer with HVAC measures coming later in the year. Details were not clear on BPA’s intent to assign those savings to its customer utilities, but under questioning BPA disclosed that it has had early conversations with the Washington State Auditor on momentum savings and compliance with that state’s I-937 utility conservation goals. Less clear is how those same utilities will level set requirements to perform biennial conservation potential assessments, which reset baseline conditions every two years, with an assignment of momentum savings calculated from a baseline that does not move over a five year period. Timing would seem to be important in this regard. Utility CPA work in anticipation of biennial goal setting would seem to come long before the retrospective work of calculating momentum savings could be completed. Or maybe that is confusing stock and flow….