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Otter Tail Power Company to study energy efficiency potential in Minnesota

Over the next several weeks and months Otter Tail Power Company will be assessing the electric energy-efficiency potential of its residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Minnesota. The goal of this study is to determine the level of energy efficiency and savings available, costs associated with energy-efficiency measures, and whether these measures are cost effective. This study will help determine what customer programs show the greatest opportunity for improving efficiency.

"Energy efficiency is receiving tremendous national attention," says Otter Tail Power Company Market Planning Manager Kim Pederson. "We have been conducting energy-efficiency programs for our customers since the early '90s, and we want to better understand how great the potential is for efficiency and energy savings in our customers' businesses and homes today and what it will cost to obtain it into the future."

Summit Blue, a firm that worked on a similar study for the company in 2002, will conduct this study. Summit Blue employees are making telephone contacts with randomly selected Otter Tail Power Company commercial and industrial customers asking them to participate in the study. Four- to six-hour audit visits with these customers will start in mid-August, and customers will receive their actual audit results for participating in the study. Summit Blue will randomly survey residential customers in September.

While this study provides energy-efficiency potential estimates for a 20-year period, the main focus of the study is on the first few years. Through this study, Otter Tail Power Company will estimate three types of energy-efficiency potential:

1. Technical potential means the amount of efficiency that could be achieved, not considering economic barriers such as cost and market barriers such as availability.

2. Economic potential means the amount of efficiency that is cost effective when compared with avoided costs of new generation, transmission lines, and distribution investments.

3. Achievable potentialmeans the amount of efficiency that could be captured by realistic programs that include rebates or incentives for customers.

"We believe that improved energy efficiency through new technologies and better insulated homes and businesses will play an important role in our balanced energy portfolio. Determining how big and how sustainable that role is will be a key part of this study," says Pederson.