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“Even large power consumers need creative energy management solutions”

October 28, 2016 - “Even large power consumers need creative energy management solutions on a tight budget,” was the premise behind Digital Engineering’s Ben MacKay’s presentation at yesterday’s ION/PowerLogic Users Group Conference 2016 in Toronto. His session “Shoestrings and duck tape” was, I think, one to which many can relate.


October 28, 2016
By Anthony Capkun
Sera Moffatt

(Also known as PLUG, the conference was open to all ION and PowerLogic users, energy managers and power system designers. It featured numerous sessions on topics ranging from digital metering and power monitoring to PowerSCADA and electrical fundamentals. Energy Manager was there to take in some of the sessions.)

Here’s the scenario MacKay painted at the start of his session: senior management instructs you to bring your facility up to speed from an energy efficiency perspective. They demand improvement, yet you have a disproportionate amount of resources at your disposal.

It is not uncommon for these demands “from higher up” to land on the desk of someone who is not senior management, such as an Electrical or Maintenance supervisor, which means they don’t have the authority to just make things happen. They need buy-in and co-operation, but how to go about getting them?

Do not fret, because all is not lost. In fact, the task is doable, but you need to know several things before even getting started, such as your company’s energy policy, its energy management expectations and schedule and, perhaps most importantly, whether you have support from the aforementioned senior management.

Only when you’ve identified and defined those factors can you start developing your EMS—a systematic approach toward continuous improvement, embracing the tenets of Plan, Do, Check, Act. And you structure your EMS using the global standard for energy management, ISO 50001.

Having a solid EMS helps those with tight budgets because it lends credibility to their improvement projects, hence easier to get buy-in. Plus, a solid plan and process go a long way toward helping you access government funding, MacKay noted.

Once you have your system in place, focus on data collection. After all, you cannot manage what you do not measure. Identify the data you need to collect (e.g. electricity, gas and water) and establish a baseline, all while ensuring the data is collected accurately, and that it addresses the metrics you need for your EMS.

You’ll want access to the various meters in your facility for real-time data, MacKay advised. While you’re at it, talk to Accounting to see what billing information may be available to you. Next, look for any submetering sources from your Maintenance and Engineering departments. Collect faceplate data, single-line electrical drawings and process flow diagrams, all of which can provide a wealth of information for your EMS. But all this data has to be stored and manipulated into something usable. Do you have software for this purpose? Is there a meter vendor with products that collect data from multiple sources?

This would be a good time to look at upgrading old meters to something network-compatible using industry-standard protocols, and/or converting communications serial ports to ethernet.

MacKay concluded with the message that various incentive programs—from, say, NRCan, IESO, saveONenergy, LDCs, gas companies—exist to help you with nearly every aspect of EMS planning and implementation.

ISO 50001, NRCan, CIPEC and you
Following MacKay was Richard Dollighan with NRCan’s Office of Energy Efficiency, Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC). Perfect timing, really, considering MacKay concluded his presentation with incentive programs.

Without getting into granular details, Dollighan explained CIPEC’s purpose is to push energy efficiency throughout all provinces and territories, as well as collaborate with other jurisdictions, such as the U.S. and its Department of Energy (DoE).

One of the ways CIPEC aims to achieve its mission of helping you become more energy efficient (and, by extension, more competitive) is by providing a number of online tools, like RETscreen and a motor selection tool called CanMOST.

He encouraged attendees to visit CIPEC.ca and consider becoming a CIPEC leader. These energy efficiency champions have access to cost-shared assistance to perform ISO 50001 implementation pilots, energy management projects, process integration studies and/or computational fluid dynamics studies; industry networking opportunities with CIPEC sector task forces; customized energy management workshops and toolkits; technical information and calculators, and more.

Dollighan said 45 facilities have qualified for financial assistance since 2011 (when incentive programs became all the rage).

Oh, and something to watch out for in 2018: Canada plans to introduce DoE’s “Superior Energy Performance” program, which was “designed to drive systematic energy performance improvement across the U.S. manufacturing and commercial buildings sectors—significantly reducing energy use and carbon emissions”.

Facilities certified to Superior Energy Performance (SEP), explains DoE, are leaders in energy management and productivity improvement. These facilities have met the ISO 50001 standard and have improved their energy performance up to 30% over three years.

Free money… continued
“Incentives cheques are more than just a photo op… it’s about what those cheques represent,” explained Toronto Hydro’s Joe Bilé, manager of CDM Program Delivery, whose “Free money” session attracted more than a few attendees.

Those cheques represent a milestone—not the culmination—of your energy management journey. (If we’ve learned anything, this journey is never truly over when you follow the tenets of Plan, Do, Check, Act.) So the incentive cheque you see in publicized photos represents the hard work you put into making your facility more competitive by reducing your utility usage by perhaps 20% to 30%. (In industries with particularly tight margins, this could make you very competitive, indeed.)

But the thrust of Bilé’s presentation was to remind and inform attendees of the numerous CDM initiatives available through agencies like IESO and LDCs, and how to access them. (Keep in mind that, being with Toronto Hydro, Bilé’s suggestions may not line up exactly with what may be offered through your own LDC, so do some research.)

He mentioned the Small Business Lighting Program for up to 100kW, which provides up to $2000 in free lighting. You may not think you qualify, but let’s say you’re the property manager of some corner plaza with a dental office, retail outlet, etc.: every single one of your tenants would likely qualify individually under the program. You get financial help with installing better lighting throughout your spaces, and your tenants think you’ve got their back. You’re a hero.

A sorely underused program, Bilé noted, is Existing Building Commissioning, which is essentially a retro-commissioning of your facility’s equipment to bring it back up to snuff. There are also Process and Systems incentives under an Industrial track, as well as CHP (combined heat & power).

British Columbia was the first jurisdiction to offer incentives for embedded energy managers, “so we borrowed that idea,” Bilé said, adding, “We currently have no cap on the number of embedded energy managers”.

He also touched upon some pilot projects that are either underway or launching soon, such as the little-known PUMPsaver, which “focuses on rebalancing hydronic systems”, and a new pilot starting in 2017 that doesn’t help fund your front-end project costs, but rather pays out incentives on your savings in the years that follow.

In closing
MacKay left attendees with his Top 3 tips for commencing their energy management journeys:

• Establish your energy management system (EMS) process
• Focus on data
• Investigate government and private funding

According to Bilé, just about any project is good for incentives, so ask questions and do your research. However, Bilé also stressed the importance of applying for incentives BEFORE you start any work or even issue an RFP. Otherwise, it looks like you were going to do the work anyway… you come across as a freeloader. Best to apply and get the incentive first, then commence with your project as you would normally.

And to mark the fact this was the 10th PLUG event in Toronto, Schneider Electric presented Langford Associates with an appreciation award to commemorate the milestone. Congratulations to the organizers and presenters for delivering a very informative PLUG 2016 Toronto.

PHOTO (left to right): Sera Moffatt, director, Energy & Sustainability Services at Schneider Electric; Adrian Thomas, VP Partner Business & Channel with Schneider; and Bob and Eric Langford of Langford Associates. Photo A. Capkun.