Mid-Atlantic Associates, Inc.

What!! - No energy manager?

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Mid-Atlantic Associates, Inc.

Though energy prices seem to be subsiding, the fact is that energy costs will be rising – soon and especially in Pennsylvania when electric rate caps begin to expire at the end of this year.

Most large commercial and industrial firms are preparing. They typically employ energy management personnel that focus on reducing energy usage by procuring energy at the best rates, apply for low-cost loans, grants and utility incentives that reduce costs to implement energy savings projects.

How do smaller firms keep informed on methods of reducing their energy usage and costs? Most are swamped with energy consultants offering audits, insulation and lighting vendors selling electrical efficiency improvement devices that advertize to reduce energy usage and other providers offering hosts of methods to reduce their energy consumption. All this, while trying to run their business or these days, even stay in business. The fact is that many smaller firms just don’t have the time to save energy! Yet, they keep on paying their high utility bills not knowing how to go about starting an energy reduction program, or even where to get help.

Smaller commercial and industrial owners that don’t have the financial resources to employ a full time Energy Manager do have options. One way is to retain an Energy Manager on an outsourced basis. These engineers will assist the facility owner through the energy reduction and management process. Several measures they can address are:

• Drafting a facility specific Energy Management Plan;
• Review utility bills for proper billings and tariffs applied;
• Determine if an energy audit would be beneficial to the owners’ facilities;
• Select an auditing firm to identify energy savings opportunities;
• Evaluate the audit;
• Research industry specific grants, low-cost loans, rebate incentives or other funding sources for energy efficient equipment upgrades;
• Bid and select contractors and vendors to implement energy savings projects that pass your metrics analyses;
• Oversee installation of energy savings projects; and
• Verify projected energy savings achieved as a result of project implementation.

The Energy Manager can help facility owners decide on an approach to their overall energy management strategy. Are the facility’s energy costs in line with similar type facilities? Are proper rates being charged on the utility bills? Should the owner retain an Energy Service Provider (ESCO) and share in the savings? Or, should an engineering firm be retained to conduct an energy audit and keep all the savings realized. If so, how do you choose the engineer and what should the scope of the audit be? The Energy Manager can advise and assist the owner through these alternatives to assure the best strategy for his situation.

Larger commercial/industrial firms commit to energy conservation and efficiency and take advantage of energy rebates, grants, and other incentives to increase profitability. Facility owners should ask themselves how significant the energy cost line item to their profitability and then do something about it. Energy efficiency won’t happen if the firm doesn’t make it a priority. Experience shows that having a knowledgeable and motivated champion is the key to successful energy efficiency programs. If resources and time are limited, then an outsourced Energy Manager can go a long way to help smaller firms to reduce costs, increase profitability and better prepare for future energy cost increases. In the end, the biggest cost may be doing nothing at all.

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