Earth Day comes only once a year, but helping commercial customers manage their loads and save on operating costs is an ongoing battle for power providers. Large key account managers may want to add this infographic from the Intelligent Utility Community Forum to their arsenal. It is from Zen Ecosystems, an energy management system designer, and it deftly sums up the value of building system controls from both an environmental and economic standpoint.
The post also contains a link to a case study Zen Ecosystems did on installing a multi-site energy management platform for a retail chain with 350 stores nationwide. With a centralized portal to manage building systems, National Stores was able to cut its energy consumption costs by 25 percent. The platform also enabled the chain to remotely program the space conditioning systems in each store. Heating and cooling systems in some locations had been running nonstop, causing equipment to fail from overwork. The avoided maintenance costs sped up National Stores’ return on investment.
Suzanne Shelton of The Shelton Group energy consultants will be moderating a free webcast called Surviving the Coming Utility Revolution, sponsored by Greenbiz.com, that will host energy management leaders from Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson and Wal-Mart. They’ll share their sustainability goals and how utilities can help them achieve those goals.
This webcast will show utilities how they can best serve and retain their largest commercial and industrial customers as they increasingly seek to generate their own energy and reduce their environmental footprint. If you work in strategic planning, energy efficiency or distributed generation program management, product development, or customer service/key accounts in an electric or gas utility, this webcast will give you excellent insight into how to position your utility and your product/service portfolio to be most appealing to your largest customers. Read more.Source: The Shelton Group, 9/4/14
According to ACEEE, smart manufacturing is set to transform the industrial sector and its use of energy, raw materials and labor over the next twenty years. Information and communication technologies that integrate all facets of the manufacturing process will give everyone in a company the information to make informed, data-driven decisions in real-time. Executives will have will have a panoramic view of productivity and managers will have an in-depth view of production costs, including energy.
An integrated network of devices and systems will be able to predict and anticipate energy needs to produce new savings from manufacturing equipment, systems, processes and facilities. These analytical capabilities could potentially simplify and automate evaluation, measurement, and validation of energy savings for utility energy-efficiency programs, as well. Firms that understand what smart manufacturing means to energy management will find new opportunities to realize value from utility demand response and energy-efficiency programs.
ACEEE offers recommendations to bring down the cost of the technology, to improve data security and to prepare the workforce to use smart manufacturing tools. Partnerships between industry and government will be critical to enabling easier and broader adoption of smart manufacturing. Read the blog post. Source: American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 7/30/14
Industry consultant Deloitte LLP has released its annual reSources Study of electricity customers in the U.S., and it holds some interesting clues to what consumers think about their energy use and their power providers.
Residential A significant finding is that in spite of the perceived economic recovery, residential customers still want to keep their electric bills down. Most people say they routinely turn off lights and shut down electronics that are not in use, and they anticipate that their home energy use will not increase in the next year. Nearly half of the respondents were considering measures that required more of an investment, such as home insulation or appliance upgrades.
Keep in mind, however, that other studies—notably by The Shelton Group—show that consumers tend to think they are more efficient than they are. That perception can make it hard for utilities to promote efficiency measures and rebates. A utility program that helps residential customers track their energy use in real time might make them more receptive to other energy services offerings.
Commercial Most commercial customers interviewed for the survey said their businesses had energy management goals. With the goal of cutting costs and maintaining their competitive edge, businesses reduced their energy use by 12 percent in 2013, compared to 9 percent in 2011. More than 60 percent of respondents rated their company’s energy management efforts a four on a one-to-five scale where five is the highest score.
The study found that the maturity of energy management programs varied widely from business to business. Only about one-quarter of the surveyed companies required all their capital plans to consider energy management goals, and about one-third factored the current low cost of natural gas into their future plans. Utilities have a clear opportunity to help some of their most energy-intensive customers with long-range planning.
Renewables gaining Another trend makes finding new ways for utilities to serve their customers more pressing. The study showed a growing interest among both residential and commercial customers in being self-reliant for their energy needs.
Although only 3 percent of the residential customers were actually investing in solar panels, more than one-quarter saw that as an action they might take in the future. The percentage was even higher among Generation Y consumers. Cost continues to be a barrier to solar installation across all groups—for now.
As with energy management, businesses have even more motivation to build their own energy supply, and the barriers are dropping. More than four in 10 business respondents are generating some portion of their electricity onsite, up from 33 percent in 2013. The highest proportion of businesses with distributed generation was in the healthcare, technology, media and telecommunications industries.
More than kilowatt-hours There was some good news for utilities that are interested in expanding their traditional business model—customers said they were open to buying other products from their power providers.
The study asked about services such as cable TV, internet access, telephone service, home security systems and home automation systems. However, an enterprising power provider might consider adding energy planning and management services, solar gardens or electric vehicle chargers to that list, too.
A small percentage of customers reported increasing frequency in outages, but more than half blamed extreme weather events, not their utilities. Backup generators, the preferred strategy for coping with outages, are another product utilities might consider leasing.
A story in Utility Dive offers more analysis on the reSource Study, along with some useful graphs. Download the study summary, or contact Deloitte to obtain the full report.