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ELECTRIC UTILITIES MUST DEAL WITH INCREASING COMPETITION, EXPERTS TELL POWER PLANNING COUNCIL

 PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Energy conservation ought to remain a solid investment in providing reliable energy at the lowest cost, energy experts told the Northwest Power Planning Council today in Portland.
 However, the electricity business is becoming increasingly competitive and as competition changes the business climate utilities will be challenged to offer all of their energy services, including conservation, at the lowest possible cost, the experts said.
 "I think the question for the region is whether electric utilities can continue to acquire energy efficiency -- conservation -- in the same ways that have been employed since the early 1980s," Council Chair Ted Bottiger of Washington said. "Frankly, there appear to be more efficient and effective ways to secure these savings."
 Energy conservation programs have been successful in the Northwest, Bottiger said. He noted that the region's utilities saved 475 megawatts in the decade following the passage of the Northwest Power Act in 1980. Conservation freed electricity that can be used for other purposes. These programs cost one-half as much as new generating plants. The council's 1991 Northwest Power Plan called on the region to conserve 1,500 megawatts of electricity -- enough for nearly one million people -- by the year 2000.
 Conservation is being acquired in other ways, too. Oregon, Washington and several local governments in Idaho also have adopted energy codes for new residential and commercial buildings that are among the most rigorous in the nation and will conserve hundreds of megawatts over time. In Washington, an association of nine small public utility districts formed their own association, called Conservation and Renewable Energy Systems, to pursue energy conservation projects.
 At the Portland meeting, the council heard from representatives of the Bonneville Power Administration, Tacoma, Wash. Public Utilities and Portland General Electric. These officials agreed that the marketplace for energy services traditionally offered by utilities is changing. Non- utility businesses are entering the marketplace with products ranging from home weatherization to complete power plants. If utilities want to keep their customers, they will have to compete effectively in this expanding marketplace, the officials said.
 The council also has explored these issues. Bottiger said the council believes that one promising strategy for utilities is to forge business partnerships with manufacturers and designers of products that use electricity. For example, utilities could help finance the design and production of energy-efficient refrigerators, air conditioners, water heaters and so on.
 "To help meet our conservation goals, the next generation of conservation policies and programs must focus on transforming entire market segments," Bottiger said.
 The council is an agency of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington and is charged by Congress with planning for the region's future sources of electricity and with protecting and enhancing fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin.
 -0- 12/9/93
 /CONTACT: Linda Gist or John Harrison of the Power Planning Council, 800-222-3355/


CO: Northwest Power Planning Council ST: Oregon, Washington, Idaho IN: UTI SU:

JH-RB -- SE006 -- 2415 12/09/93 18:01 EST
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Date:Dec 9, 1993
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