Get to Know the 2021 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Chairperson's Award Winner

Steve Wright Chelan PUD Chairpersons Award

In December, the alliance hosted its seventh annual Leadership in Energy Efficiency Awards ceremony to celebrate organizations, teams and individuals who have shown exemplary dedication to furthering efficiency in the region and beyond. This  interview features Steve Wright, former general manager of Chelan PUD, recognized with the 2021 Chairperson’s Award.

1. Congratulations on being recognized by the energy efficiency community in the Northwest. What advice would you give to the next generation of EE professionals?
The key to the success of energy efficiency in the Northwest has been finding programmatic efforts that meet the needs of utilities and their customers. In the Northwest we have been an energy constrained system that could use all the kilowatt hours saved we could get. There is still some truth to that, but we are becoming more capacity constrained which will change the type of energy efficiency we need. Stay in tune with the regional load/resource balance and utility integrated resource plans. This defines where value is created for the region’s electric customers.

2. Looking back on your career, what are the accomplishment/s that you are most proud of?
Early in my career we were trying to establish that energy efficiency was a viable alternative to new generation. For the most part, the energy efficiency goals established in the Northwest Power Council 5-year power plans were viewed as aspirational at the time of adoption. Yet for the most part they have been achieved and exceeded. This has been good for consumers and the environment. I’m proud to have been part of establishing energy efficiency as a viable resource that can be counted on to deliver results.

3. Energy efficiency is an ever-changing industry. Do you have a sense of the biggest changes, or challenges, that lie ahead for efficiency in the region?
Making the transition to a capacity constrained system that needs demand response to accommodate the substantial infusion of non-dispatchable, variable energy resources.

4. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Being involved in energy efficiency has been a very rewarding part of my career. It creates the bridge between environmental and economic health that our society is seeking to achieve. There is much still to be done as we strive for a clean, affordable and reliable power system that citizens rely upon to thrive.

Learn more about all of the 2021 Leadership in Energy Efficiency Award Winners here.