news releases

2006.04.05 > For Immediate Release
contact: Teresa Gleason - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: tmgleason@mail.unomaha.edu

OPPD, UNO to Launch Energy-Saving Potential Program

Omaha - Everyone agrees that wise use of energy is a great idea.  Getting everyone to act accordingly is another matter. 

Despite the increased national attention on energy issues, people do not appear to be making significant strides toward conserving energy.  A new initiative to be launched by the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) will attempt to change that.

Officials at OPPD and UNO have announced plans for the creation of the Energy Research Application Initiative (ERAI).  This new initiative, known as the Energy-Saving Potential (ESP) program, will explore how the science and technology of residential and commercial energy conservation may be developed and applied to achieve a substantial reduction in energy demand by individuals and small businesses, said B.J. Reed, dean of the UNO College of Public Affairs and Community Service (CPACS).  It also will develop research and application models to better assist those least able to meet their energy needs.

The formation of the ESP is pending approval by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents at its April 21 meeting.

"Old habits die hard, especially for many residential and small business users of energy," said Gary Gates, OPPD president.  "By reducing demand, individuals and businesses can reduce their bills.  Companies like ours can reduce the need for additional generating plants, which cost money.  Plus, we can make the resources we do have go farther.  We believe this is something that makes a lot of economic sense and potentially will benefit everyone."

OPPD will fund the ESP up to $500,000 annually through 2010.

"Gary Gates and OPPD are to be commended for making this important collaboration possible," said UNO Chancellor Nancy Belck.  "It's another example of how community partnerships enable UNO, through its mission as a metropolitan university, to bring our intellectual resources to bear on issues faced by residents in the metro area and beyond."

Although national energy policy is a key factor in energy development and conservation, the ability of residential and commercial users to adopt new technologies is also key, Reed said.

He cited a recent U.S. Department of Energy report that indicated new technology and aggressive steps to encourage conservation could reduce the growth in energy demand between 20 and 47 percent.  That same report also listed conservation as a way to reduce the number of new power plants needed to between 700 and 1,000 from current estimates of more than 1,300 in the next decade.

"The message of the ESP is simple – there's nothing mysterious about wise energy use," said Adrian Minks, vice president of marketing and support services for OPPD.  "We're hoping this strikes a chord with both residential and commercial users throughout our service area."

Reed said the initiative will center on research clusters representing faculty, staff and students from different disciplines to address substantive issues of energy conservation and assistance.  These clusters may include original research, model testing, development and assessment of pilot programs and services, public policy analysis and other relevant approaches.

Funded projects also will include assessing consumer behavior toward the adoption of various energy conservation technologies.

The ESP will be administered by CPACS.  An advisory board consisting of representatives from OPPD and UNO will be established to oversee its implementation.

All research proposals will be submitted to a panel of reviewers who will make recommendations to the ERAI Advisory Board for funding.

For more information, contact Mike Jones at 402.636.3749 or Tim Kaldahl at 402.554.3502.

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