Alliance takes the next steps towards dual-fuel market transformation

Since 2015, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s (NEEA) natural gas portfolio has delivered value to the region by supporting the adoption of efficient natural gas technologies and influencing more effective codes and standards. The alliance is building on these successful initial efforts by including both natural gas and electric portfolios in the 2020-2024 Business Plan, as well as beginning to fund a program, Next Step Homes, with both gas and electric funding for the first time. With support from the Ad Hoc Natural Gas Business Planning Committee and other board members, the Next Step Homes program – which helps increase the adoption of advanced energy-efficient home building practices in the Northwest – will become a dual-fuel program. While Next Step Homes has always been a whole-home, fuel-neutral program, it will now be able to address natural gas savings more directly and track energy savings more comprehensively.

And, in September, Monica Cowlishaw, Manager of Energy Efficiency & Community Outreach for Cascade Natural Gas Corporation and Holly Braun, Energy Efficiency & Innovation Manager at NW Natural, were welcomed as members of NEEA’s Board of Directors. With 20 members from the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and Northwest utilities, and a governor-appointed representative from each of the four Northwest states, NEEA’s board has historically included only electrical utility representatives. The addition of these two new members supports stronger cross-utility collaboration and regional alignment on dual-fuel projects.

Cowlishaw has worked with Cascade for the past ten years, with a primary focus currently on facilitating, supporting and growing energy efficiency and demand side management in Oregon and Washington. Her work directly benefits Cascade’s work to encourage customers to install high-efficiency natural gas upgrades in commercial, industrial and residential properties.

In Braun’s current role at NW Natural, she works to advance the Company’s Low Carbon Pathway: a commitment to reduce emissions 30% by 2035, via collaboration with Energy Trust and NEEA, by exploring super-efficient emerging technologies and promoting policy that advances a deeply decarbonized building stock. Braun started with NWN as a CPA designing their Sarbanes-Oxley compliance protocol in 2003.

This board announcement comes as the region is finalizing NEEA’s 2020-2024 Business Plan. While natural gas program activities have previously been presented separately from electrical program activities, they are combined in the draft plan. The five-year plan maps out key transformational strategies for both electric and natural gas market transformation activities as well as potential optional investment opportunities.