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Starbucks, Utilities Test Behavior-Based Energy Savings Program

The Bonneville Power Administration has partnered with three Northwest public utilities to test the effectiveness of behavior-based energy efficiency programs.

The Snohomish County Public Utility District will challenge Starbucks employees to save energy by competing with co-workers in other store locations. The utility will gather real-time energy use data and give Starbucks employees access to that information via a web-based portal.

The Snohomish utility district is collaborating with PECI, Lucid and Puget Sound Energy to test the program.

In a separate pilot, Clark Public Utilities will provide energy use feedback to residential users through Facebook in an effort to change how customers interact with their utilities. In the third pilot, Cowlitz Public Utility will use digital media, such as email and text messaging, in addition to frequent energy use reports, to encourage energy efficiency by residential customers.

Clark Public Utilities and Cowlitz Public Utility are partnering with software company Opower to develop and implement their pilot programs.

The utilities were selected by BPA, the government agency that markets wholesale electrical power from 31 federal hydro projects in the Columbia River Basin, through a competitive process. BPA has committed up to $300,000 per year for the behavior-based energy efficiency program. First phase results from the pilots are expected in 2013, BPA said.

The three pilot programs could lead to the development of infrastructure and policies that Northwest public utilities can use to operate behavior-based energy efficiency programs in commercial, industrial and residential sectors.

Opower CEO Dan Yates spoke last month about how new technology is changing the relationship between utilities and their customers. The company, which aims to provide that technology, developed a social energy app that allows Facebook users to compare their energy use with their peers.

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3 thoughts on “Starbucks, Utilities Test Behavior-Based Energy Savings Program

  1. I’ve seen reports of some other tests trying out different methods of driving energy-saving behavior. It will be interesting to see whether competition or cash is a better motivator.

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