It is estimated that Ashton’s leadership has resulted in 70 million kilowatt-hours of energy savings over his career. Ashton accepted the Jim Brands Award Tuesday at the NWPPA’s Communications and Energy Innovations Conference in Missoula, Mont.
In 1983 the average winter consumption for electrically heated homes in Idaho Falls was 2,645 kilowatt-hours. Today, it is 1,676 kilowatt-hours.
Ashton was hired in 1981 as IFP’s first customer service representative. He was a strong advocate among Idaho’s public power utilities to develop and implement energy efficiency measures within the Idaho Energy Authority (IDEA).
"Van's legacy at Idaho Falls Power will be the tremendous success of the energy efficiency programs that he developed and implemented," said Jackie Flowers, Idaho Falls Power's general manager. "The savings realized through those programs have helped us extend the capacity of our local power assets and weather some rocky times in the industry."
At IFP, Ashton led the creation of weatherization programs for residential and commercial customers. Between 1982 and 1989, an average of 1.3 million kilowatt-hours were saved annually through the conservation department. In 2008, IFP launched an advertising campaign called Switch to Energy Efficiency that has resulted in big increases in participation in the utility’s energy-efficiency programs. Since 2009, an average of 5.7 million kilowatt-hours have been saved annually through these programs.
In 2010, IFP began working with the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project. Ashton turned his attention to customer participation and testing, coordinating the installation of Demand Response technology in the homes of 1,200 volunteers. The technology proved capable of bolstering the utility’s energy efficiency and conservation measures and will soon be incorporated into the Energy Services program.
“Van has worked extremely hard to be an advocate for his utility, as well as neighboring utilities, in all of his dealings with BPA," said Mary Beth Evans, Bonneville Power Administration's Energy Efficiency representative. "He is viewed by his peers as a leader in his industry and is looked up to by many. Van has a vast historical knowledge in the utility industry, and he is able to communicate that knowledge effectively with others.”