OSU IAC Assistant Director, Joe Junker, leads a joint IAC/utility assessment of a local brewery.

The Oregon State University Industrial Assessment Center (OSU IAC) puts special effort into collaboration with regional energy utilities and energy agencies. Not only do these organizations identify and refer industrial clients to the Center, they also facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency projects recommended by OSU IAC students. Building and maintaining these relationships takes time.

During assessment preparation, the OSU IAC baseline team asks clients for permission to invite their utility representative to join the assessment. The primary incentive being that utilities can provide assistance in accessing financial support and engineering expertise to implement capital projects. During the assessment kick off meeting most clients are willing to sign a release permitting a numbered copy of the assessment report to be shared with the utility. The detailed engineering analyses, cost estimates and payback calculations in the completed report go a long way towards obtaining the necessary utility support to get some of the longer term projects completed. The connections made when utility representatives join the team on assessments and the credibility established through the quality of reports shared, helps underline the value the OSU IAC brings. As a result, regional utilities are very willing to help the center identify new clients.

This is helpful year-round and critical when setting up multi-day, multi-client, audit trips for summer and break. (These trips leverage travel time and cost at more remote locations in the large OSU IAC service area.) OSU IAC collaboration with utilities has historically been informal. An effort is now underway to formalize these relationships through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs).

The Oregon Department of Energy and the National Association of State Energy Offices is collaborating with the center to draft these MOUs and put them in place not only with regional utilities, but also with Northwest state energy offices; entities overseeing industrial incentives such as the Energy Trust of Oregon and the BPA Energy Smart Industrial program; and other appropriate organizations such as the Northwest Food Processing Association. According to the  Director of the OSU IAC, Joe Junker, “we expect these MOUs to contribute to the strength of our regional collaboration but understand that they will not replace the effort that must be maintained to keep relationships active.”