Collaborative seeks data for new industrial efficiency initiative

ACEEEdataRequest
Large industrial energy consumers have a chance to join a collaborative effort to create a new type of energy-efficiency program that would ultimately provide them with incentives to purchase more efficient industrial equipment. The Extended Motor Product Label Initiative (EMPLI) would also give utility efficiency program managers prescribed savings values for the energy performance of industrial motor-driven products.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is working with the Hydraulic Institute (HI), Air Movement and Control Association International, Compressed Air and Gas Institute, Fluid Sealing Association, National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and a dozen utilities and energy-efficiency programs to launch this initiative. Central to the program are voluntary performance labels that show the comparative efficiency of an “extended product” comprised of a driven component (e.g., fan, pump, or compressor), a motor and associated controls.

Donate data to science
EMPLI has reached the point where the working groups need product category-specific application and operational data to determine the average potential savings. The collaborative is starting with collecting water pumping system operating hours and loads. This information will be used in program proposals to state public service commissions to document that labeled products save energy.

HI and NEMA Business Information Services (NEMA Biz) have contracted with the collaborative to collect, anonymize and aggregate the data. Organizations interested in participating can download a data collection sheet on the HI website, fill it out and submit it electronically to NEMA Biz for analysis. The submission deadline is Sept. 30, 2015. All individual company data will remain secure and will not be shared with anyone.

The EMPLI pump working group is requesting general data, such as hours of operation, percentage loading, product performance and markets served. NEMA Biz will anonymize and aggregate the data and return it to the working group in a format that state public utility commissions will be able to use for program justification and evaluation. Participating organizations will also receive a copy of the aggregated data.

This information will provide insights into the marketplace and enable participants to position their products for new utility-sector funding opportunities. The better the data, the more complete the report will be for all involved.

Building better programs
Collecting operational data is necessary for the success of the EMPL Initiative. The goal of the collaborative effort is to develop product performance labels that companies and public institutions can use as purchasing specifications. The labels will also provide the basis for an entirely new type of prescriptive rebate energy-efficiency program that attributes or “deems” an average energy savings to a qualifying product.

EMPLI has the potential to help industrial consumers and their power providers to move beyond individual equipment upgrades to increase the efficiency of entire systems. ACEEE is urging utilities to share this request with their commercial and industrial customers, and to participate in the survey themselves if it is appropriate for the utility.

Source: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, 7/17/15

Free webinars cover thermography basics, more

(Photo by Infrared Training Center)

(Photo by Infrared Training Center)

For anyone who is new to IR cameras or who needs a refresher, the Infrared Training Center (ITC) is offering free live and on-demand web courses.

These educational sessions provide a convenient and informative way to learn more about one of the most useful and versatile tools in an energy manager’s kit. Topics cover tips and tricks (presented July 22, access it from the on-demand list), thermography basics, safety, software basics, capturing and interpreting thermal images and much more. Each webinar is 45 to 60 minutes in length, and the live events include a question and answer session with participants. The speakers are top industry experts.

Need to know
These events are presented from locations around the world, so the start time given is the local time. Be sure to double-check the start time and time zone when registering. If the webinar occurs too far away from your time zone, you may have to wait for the on-demand recording. See ITC’s webinar FAQs to learn more about scheduling and system requirements.

Many training options
In addition to the webinars, ITC also offers online course packages and four-day regional training courses for certification.

For busy novices to energy auditing and diagnostics, ITC webinars can provide a valuable foundation for your infrared inspections. The price is right for experienced technician who just want to brush up on the basics and maybe pick up some new tricks. There is always something more to learn about the world of thermography, and no better way to do it than from your our desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone—for free!

(Editor’s note: If you haven’t yet discovered infrared cameras and all they can do for a utility, contact our Equipment Loan Program, 720-962-7420, to learn more.)

Source: Infrared Thermography Center, 7/16/15

Ask the Energy Experts: Measuring results for appliance rebate programs

eexpert_smallQuestion:
Our utility is designing a rebate program for customers who purchase energy-efficient refrigerators. To help us estimate potential savings, we need information on the energy consumption of older refrigerators that may run longer (during each on/off cycle) or even continuously.

Answer:
The average cycle times of a well-maintained refrigerator should not change as the appliance gets older, unless it is somehow damaged. If a refrigerator does run continuously, something is wrong. Possible reasons for older refrigerators running longer or continuously include:

  • Dust and debris buildup on the condenser coil
  • Blocked internal vents inside an overloaded refrigerator
  • Damaged door seals or door misalignment
  • Frost buildup on the inside of manual-defrost refrigerators, or a malfunctioning defrost mechanism on automatic-defrost refrigerators
  • Partial loss of the refrigerant charge due to slow leakage of refrigerant

Adding a repair component to your program may expand its reach to increase energy savings and build trust with your customers. Also, consider using bill stuffers and other outreach opportunities to educate customers on routine refrigerator upkeep. Find more tips for efficient refrigerator operation and Energy Saver, a website by the Department of Energy to help consumers reduce their carbon footprint.

ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators use 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models. Models with top-mounted freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than side-by-side or bottom-mount units.

ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators use 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models. Models with top-mounted freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than side-by-side or bottom-mount units. (Artwork by DOE Energy Saver)

Calculating savings
Once a refrigerator reaches the end of its useful life—which it may be if it is running continuously—it is going to be replaced anyway. Usually, the goal of an incentive program is to encourage customers to replace older, less-efficient, but still functioning, appliances with high-efficiency models. A properly functioning older refrigerator uses less energy than the continuously running one, so calculating your program’s energy savings based on the latter will give you an overly optimistic estimate.

Documentation of Calculation Methodology, Input Data, and Infrastructure, by Home Energy Saver and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, is a useful publication for calculating the energy consumption of major appliances, including older refrigerators. Updated in 2008, this reference includes energy factors for several different refrigerator styles from 1972 to 2003. A table gives typical refrigerator sizes and there are equations for calculating adjusted volume and energy consumption.

Home Energy Saver also provides a chart that gives default energy consumption estimates for a variety of home appliances and systems.

Other resources you may find helpful include the Energy Star Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator. It allows visitors to estimate the energy savings for replacing refrigerators manufactured up to 2008 with an Energy Star-qualified model. Top Ten USA shows annual energy cost savings for the 10 most efficient refrigerators on the market. Knowing what refrigerator models are readily available in your area might be helpful as well in estimating program savings.

Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use, an article on the Energy Saver blog, makes good reading for customers who are particularly engaged in managing their home energy use. Cultivating a relationship with your “true believers” is a good way to gain anecdotal data on the real-life performance of your programs. This information can be valuable in refining existing programs and developing new ones.

Around the web: Cool summer electricity bills with Energy Saver infographic

We are now officially in the dog days of summer with all its attendant peaks and calls about high electric bills.AroundTheWeb

Maybe you have already sent out our Cooling Tip Sheet bill stuffer, but repetition is the secret to education. Everything You Need to Know About Home Cooling, an infographic from the Department of Energy (DOE), offers another simple and effective way to remind your customers that they can take control of their energy use, even when it is hot, hot, hot.

The infographic starts off with the sobering truth about cooling. Air conditioners use about 5 percent of all the electricity produced in the U.S., and homeowners spend more than $11 billion a year to beat the heat. That sets the stage for the hopeful news that customers can save 20 to 50 percent on home cooling. (Hint: It involves upgrading to a high-efficiency air conditioner, a helpful factoid if your utility just happens to offer an incentive program.)

In addition to advice on efficiency and maintenance, the infographic covers different options for cooling, along with the costs, pros and cons of each type of equipment. There is also a brief explanation of how an air conditioner works and some tips for troubleshooting.

This slide from DOE Energy Saver would make a great handout at your next customer event. (Art by DOE Energy Saver)

This slide from DOE Energy Saver would make a great handout at your next customer event. (Art by DOE Energy Saver)

Energy Saver, DOE’s program to help consumers reduce their carbon footprint, created the infographic as well as a series of slides, available to download. Print the whole series for visuals and handouts at customer meetings and outreach events.

While you are visiting the Energy Saver website, check out other tips and materials you can share with customers. It is always the right season to educate your customers on how to save some cash while improving their comfort. And to help your member services representatives keep their cool throughout the year.

Source: DOE Energy Saver

Electric savings produce fresh results for Holy Cross consumers

When Tom Clark Jr. sized up the grocery store space he’d leased in Snowmass Village, Colorado, last year, it was clear Clark’s Market needed a soup-to-nuts overhaul to take advantage of today’s advanced heating, refrigeration and lighting systems.

Tom Clark in Clark's Market, Snowmass Village, Colorado

Tom Clark was determined to reduce energy use at Clark’s Market in Snowmass Village, Colorado, so he turned to Holy Cross Energy for help. (Photo by Holy Cross Energy)

Gutting the 14,000-square-foot space and installing new super-efficient systems were going to cost more upfront, but, “Going with the standard was never really an option for us,” said Clark.

Clark’s Market turned to member-owned Holy Cross Energy and its We Care energy efficiency program for help, just as hundreds of other businesses and households served by the electric co-op have done over the past nine years.

A rebate of $15,000 from Holy Cross made the market’s investment in high-efficiency upgrades a lot easier to swallow. “These things aren’t cheap, but once you get them in place the benefits are numerous,” said Clark, who opened the market for business in July 2014. “When you are operating with energy-efficient equipment, it runs cooler, runs longer, there’s less maintenance and you can put out a superior product. It has been such a runaway success for us.”

Clark is focused on quality, but the high-efficiency systems are also saving energy. From September 2014 to March 2015, Clark’s Market used 155,000 fewer kilowatt-hours (kWh), cut the store’s electric demand in half and saved $13,268 on electric bills compared to bills tallied by the previous grocery store in the same space.

Results at Clark’s Market prove that energy efficiency is a solid investment, and Holy Cross Energy is working to help more of its business and household consumers benefit from similar paybacks.

Joseph Clark stocking shelves

Joseph Clark pitches in to stock shelves. Holy Cross Energy helps small, family-owned businesses like Clark’s Market succeed by keeping energy costs down. (Photo by Holy Cross Energy)

One of 1,000 upgrades
Seeking deeper energy savings from its We Care program, Holy Cross Energy set a five-year goal in 2013 for its consumers to save 33,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity per year by 2017. That is equal to all the electricity used per year by 2,457 homes in the Holy Cross service area, spread across Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield counties.

Last year, 829 Holy Cross consumers completed more than 1,000 energy upgrades that will save 10,106 MWh of electricity per year, according to Mary Wiener, energy efficiency program administrator for Holy Cross. “This is on top of 6,241 MWh of annual savings from projects done in 2013, so we are halfway to our goal in the first two years,” Wiener said.

The first half of 2015 builds on that trend with the co-op paying out rebates for 667 measures. Wiener estimates that the annual savings from this year’s projects so far will total more than 3 million kWh. “And these savings will continue for years into the future,” she added.

Rebates offset project costs
Holy Cross Energy provides expert help and rebates to help its residential and commercial consumers make these upgrades.

“We understand that people appreciate getting help to make smart decisions, and the rebates show our consumers that we are their partner in energy efficiency,” said Wiener.

Holy Cross paid out more than $1.1 million in rebates in 2014 to consumers to offset a portion of their investments in energy savings. A 2-percent surcharge added to electric bills provides funding for the rebates.

Holy Cross staff visited more than 200 homes to provide complimentary home energy assessments. The co-op also helped pay for 68 Energy Smart Colorado home assessments. A total of 592 households made energy upgrades in 2014, said Wiener. “LED lights and recycling old refrigerators were by far the most popular upgrades,” she said. “People also replaced leaky windows, switched to programmable thermostats, swapped out their old holiday lights for LED strings and installed heat tape timers.”

Holy Cross also continued its partnership with the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) to offer a home weatherization program to income-qualified households. In 2014, the NWCCOG crew made upgrades for 22 households, using a $46,000 contribution from Holy Cross.

LED lighting is project of choice
Partnering with Energy Smart Colorado has enabled Holy Cross to reach more businesses and multi-family housing properties. Energy Smart Colorado is administered by three local energy organizations, Clean Energy Economy for the Region, Community Office for Resource Efficiency and Walking Mountains Science Center. The partnership also provides free building walk-throughs and energy coaching to business and rental property owners.

Because such facilities use so much more electricity than single-family homes, projects at 177 of these properties delivered 93 percent of the total electric savings from 2014 projects.

For these projects, LED lighting was the upgrade of choice, delivering the added benefit of reduced maintenance. “LED lighting is the hot ticket for businesses, lodges and condos,” said Wiener. “These projects deliver immediate energy savings and rapid payback on your investment. We expect to see a lot more lighting upgrades as people see the excellence of these new LED fixtures and bulbs.”

More rebates available
Saving energy through efficiency upgrades and generating energy from solar panels means Holy Cross Energy is passing up sales of electricity. “Why would a utility want its consumers to use less electricity? Because it actually saves Holy Cross money,” explained Holy Cross CEO Del Worley. “In fact, we expect the savings from this past year’s efforts to save Holy Cross $1.8 million in power costs over the next five years.”

Worley pointed out that energy conservation is a cost-effective alternative to investing in costly new power plants, and it reduces the peak demand charges utilities pay their suppliers. Conservation is the most cost-effective investment we can make,” he added.

Members have shown that they support that investment by their participation in the co-op’s rebate program. Holy Cross Energy will continue to support their members—and its five-year goal—with rebate funding and technical assistance to home and business owners.

Source: Holy Cross Energy, 7/1/15

Webinar offers tips for pitching energy efficiency to key accounts

July 23, 2015
1-2 p.m. MDT

Commercial efficiency consulting firm Noesis will present 5 Tips for Pitching Energy-efficiency Projects to CFOs Thursday, July 23.

Speakers will discuss how to get faster and more frequent approvals for commercial retrofit projects. Participants will learn five tips Noesis has developed to help marketing and customer service representatives deliver the business case for their projects and get more projects approved, faster.

Noesis specializes in working with energy-efficiency equipment vendors, but utility key account representatives might find the information valuable as well. Also, if your utility partners with vendors and contractors, consider getting everyone involved in marketing your customer programs to attend this training opportunity.

Source: Noesis, 7/17/15

Upcoming deadlines

Tribal leader forum, renewables workshop scheduled in New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM
July 27-29

The Tribal Energy Program and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy have teamed up with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to host two back-to-back events for Native American tribes interested in developing renewable energy on their lands. The Tribal Leader Forum on Tribal Energy and Economic Development: Tribal Utility Formation will take place July 27, followed by the Community-Scale Tribal Renewable Energy Workshop July 28-29.

How to start a utility
The Tribal Leader Forum, at the Pueblo Cultural Center Redirecting to a non-government site in Albuquerque, is the 11th in a series of planned strategic energy development forums sponsored by the Office of Indian Energy.  The focus will be on the tribal utility as a structure for long-term economic growth to meet the needs of tribal communities. Tribal leaders and staff will have the opportunity to interact with other tribes, federal agencies and energy industry experts to learn more about tribal utility formation and regulation.

A blend of informative sessions and interactive roundtables will bring beginners and experienced practitioners together for a national dialogue on fundamentals and best practices for tribal utilities. Forum objectives include:

  • Exploring the fundamental opportunities and challenges of capturing the benefits of tribal energy from the perspective of tribal utilities
  • Gaining a better understanding of the role, function and power of the tribal utility in achieving tribal policies
  • Establishing an ongoing dialogue among tribal leaders to help shape the future of tribal energy and tribal utilities.

Focus on five steps
The Community-Scale Tribal Renewable Energy Workshop, July 28-29, is a unique opportunity to learn from renewable energy project experts. Attendees will get hands-on experience using technology resource assessment tools, explore project case studies and hear about lessons learned from other tribes.

The interactive workshop is based on a dynamic new curriculum designed to walk participants through the five steps necessary to develop and finance renewable energy projects on tribal lands:

  •  Assessing project potential
  • Determining technology options
  • Refining the project
  • Implementing financing and construction
  • Planning for project operation and maintenance

This event will be held at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Albuquerque Historic Old Town, and feature a tour of Sandia National Laboratories. Coffee, a light breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack are included in the registration fee.

Register today!
The forum and workshop are limited to elected tribal leaders, tribal executives and tribal staff. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. RSVP now to secure your spot by email or by calling 303-275-3005.

Lodging available
The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Albuquerque Historic Old Town is offering a limited block of rooms at a discounted rate of $94.99 single or double occupancy per room per night. A limited number of government per diem rate rooms are also available upon request. Make reservations by calling 505-842-5000.

Source: DOE Office of Indian Energy, 7/6/15

Diverse power portfolio keeps Silicon Valley Power’s electricity rates low

As many California utilities scramble to replace hydropower megawatts drying up in the ongoing drought—and raise their rates sharply to pay for that electricity—Silicon Valley Power’s Redirecting to a non-government site (SVP) more moderate increases keep their rates among the lowest in the state, thanks to a diverse portfolio.

“For utilities with more than 5,000 customers, Silicon Valley Power’s average system rate is the lowest in California [EIA – form 861, 2013 data],” stated Larry Owens, SVP customer services manager.

Generation resources located across a broad geographical area help to create a stable platform for SVP rates. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

Generation resources located across a broad geographical area help to create a stable platform for SVP rates. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

SVP’s decades-long investment in a diverse mix of resources saved its customers more than $100 million last year, compared to the rates paid in neighboring communities. The city of Santa Clara municipal electric utility credits the “whole portfolio” approach with its ability to maintain a rate advantage over surrounding communities during historic drought.

For 2014, more than 36 percent of SVP’s electricity came from renewable resources including geothermal, solar, landfill gas, wind and eligible hydropower. Natural gas and large hydropower from Western make up the bulk of the conventional generation, rounded out with a small amount of coal and other resources.

Diversify three ways
Fuel sources are not the only thing about SVP’s portfolio that is diverse, but it is primary to their approach. Power comes from wind turbines in the state of Washington, geothermal and small hydro from all over northern California and a utility-scale solar plant in Kern County, California.  In-town resources include a 147-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle plant, a 7-MW co-generation plant, 750 kilowatts (kW) of landfill gas power and 500 kW of solar.

Wind power from Washington state helps to balance SVP's resource mix. (Photo by Silicon Valley Power)

Wind power from Washington state helps to balance SVP’s resource mix. (Photo by Silicon Valley Power)

Geographic diversity—when power resources are spread over a wide territory—helps reduce single-point-of-failure risk from extreme weather, transmission congestion and even earthquakes.

Ownership is the third aspect of the “triple diversity” strategy SVP uses to balance its portfolio. Most of the electricity is purchased through power purchase agreements and joint power agency contracts, but SVP owns or co-owns a natural gas power plant, some hydropower facilities and photovoltaic arrays. In addition to the SVP-owned local arrays at Jenny Strand Research Park Redirecting to a non-government site and the Tasman Parking Structure at Levi’s Stadium, business and residential customers contributed 11.4 MW of installed capacity in 2014. “By not relying too much on one particular provider or one type of contract, SVP has created a very stable platform to keep rates affordable,” explained Owens.

Playing long game
That was the scenario that originally motivated SVP to pursue diversification in the 1980s when it was still a full-service taker from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). “The first energy embargo was a wake-up call for our city leaders. They realized that moving away from a profit-motivated, sole source provider and seeking freedom from volatile fuel prices was key to providing affordable, reliable electricity to its customers,” Owens said.  “Renewable energy in particular could help SVP achieve its environmental goals.”

Silicon Valley Power began to acquire renewable resources in the 1980s with the purchase of hydropower from Western and wind power. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

Silicon Valley Power began to acquire renewable resources in the 1980s with the purchase of hydropower from Western and wind power. (Artwork by Silicon Valley Power)

Hydropower from Western and wind from the Altamont Pass wind turbines were the first carbon-free resources into SVP’s (power) pool in 1985, followed by geothermal power from the North Bay Area in 1988. “Geothermal is a great fit for our needs,” said Owens said. “It is such a reliable base-load resource for our customers.”

The solar power portion of SVP’s portfolio has been growing rapidly in the last few years, thanks to dropping equipment prices, the utility’s generous support for customer systems and California’s renewable portfolio standard. The state must get 33 percent of its retail electricity sales from renewables by 2020.

SVP has already met the state’s 33-percent goal, but the utility will continue to evaluate new renewable resources to meet its continued growth in retail sales and to address the expectation of even higher renewable requirements. Currently, SVP has more capacity than load, “So we can shop around for the options that best meet our ‘triple diversity’ criteria,” observed Owens. “Even though we are in a severe drought now, equipping existing small hydro dams with high-efficiency turbines is an approach that still has some potential opportunities,” he added. “With a surplus of both capacity and renewable energy, SVP has many opportunities to sell into the renewable and non-renewable markets available in California.”

Recognizing opportunity and knowing when to seize it has given Silicon Valley Power a drought-resistant portfolio, brag-worthy rates and a solid foundation for meeting future challenges. Because keeping rates low, complying with regulation and protecting the community’s resources for the next generation is simply too big a job for one resource alone.

Source: The Outlet, June 2015

Proactive infrared inspections keep ED2 customers cool in desert summer

(Artwork by Electrical District No. 2)

(Artwork by Electrical District No. 2)

Keeping the lights on is a year-round responsibility for power providers, one that sometimes means braving extreme weather to make sure the distribution system can handle the strain of a peak. Whether it is January in central Minnesota or July in Arizona, you will find Western customers inspecting their lines with infrared (IR) cameras borrowed from our Equipment Loan Program to protect their customers from potential power outages.

Electrical District No. 2 Redirecting to a non-government site (ED2) in Phoenix, Arizona, is as “summer-peaking” a utility as they come, and each year since 2001, the maintenance department has borrowed an IR camera. “The loans probably go back further to the ‘pre-database’ times,” observed Equipment Loan Manager Gary Hoffmann. “Some of our customers are as consistent as the seasons when it comes to scheduling loans, and ED2 is one of those utilities.”

The linemen of Electrical District No. 2 in Pinal County, Arizona, are dedicated to the thorough inspection of their electrical system. (Photo by Electrical District No. 2)

The linemen of Electrical District No. 2 in Pinal County, Arizona, are dedicated to the thorough annual inspection of their electrical system. (Photo by Electrical District No. 2)

“Yearly inspections keep the malfunctions from piling up,” acknowledged Lineman Steve Heet, who recently took over inspections from Lineman Dewayne Hill.

Heet borrowed the Mikron 7550 thermal camera to inspect all of ED2’s overhead lines. “We pay special attention to the capacitor banks, regulator banks and switches, but basically, we are looking at everything,” he explained. “Underground transformers and bushings are on our schedule this year, too,” Heet added.

Crews take out the camera at night and inspect the line from a service truck, recording hot spots to be repaired during the day. And how hot do hot spots get in the desert in the summer? “I think 340 degrees is our record,” said Heet. “Typical hot spots are around 180 degrees and above.”

A recent inspection uncovered a couple very hot substation blades that could have resulted in 1,000 customers losing power. “A short, scheduled outage for repairs—even in the summer—is much easier for customers to manage than an unexpected event,” Heet stated.

Avoiding surprises is, after all, the whole point of a proactive maintenance program. Don’t wait for the next hot summer day to find out if your system is cooking up an unpleasant surprise. Contact the Equipment Loan Program at 720-9627420 to borrow an infrared camera. A few minutes of quick inspection can save hours of headaches for you and your customers.