Risk, in terms of energy cost, quality and reliability continues to be a primary concern for industrial and commercial businesses. Some regions have experienced radical price fluctuations due to the introduction of a deregulated market structure. Power industry experts have also voiced concerns about the possibility of deteriorating reliability due to the stress open market energy trading will have on an already overburdened grid infrastructure. The August 2003 East Coast blackout highlighted the challenges already faced in coordinating interconnected power delivery systems.
Enterprise energy management (EEM) technology can help property owners and managers mitigate these risks and maximize return on the energy investment across multiple facilities. Systems provide a combination of accurate energy metering and submetering, embedded power quality/reliability monitoring and a cost-effective Internet-based communications infrastructure with Web-enabled software to deliver relevant information in a timely fashion. Managers can use this information to make the best decisions about how energy is purchased, used and sub-billed, choices that may lower costs, increase tenant satisfaction, enhance productivity in industrial plants and ultimately boost profits.
REDUCING CONSUMPTION AND COSTS
There are many options for replacing inefficient loads, including variable-speed drives, lighting retrofits and HVAC system upgrades. However, studies have shown that businesses can typically experience an additional 10 percent in energy savings by using an EEM system to support an ongoing measurement and verification program. EEM systems help managers ensure return on investment by delivering the detailed information necessary to verify the savings from equipment upgrades. The system will also identify where loads should be rescheduled or automatically controlled to reduce or eliminate peaks in the demand for power that can incur huge penalties from the utility.
An EEM system also gives operations personnel a range of analysis capabilities that support proactive maintenance to extend equipment life. Alarms and remote control features will alert staff to out-of-tolerance conditions and help them respond quickly to avoid equipment failures and perform maintenance only when required. All of this translates to lower operating costs and reduced labor.
The Building Automation Systems group at the University of Chicago used EEM historical usage data to compare the efficiency of chilled water systems and proved an older system was almost 50 percent less efficient than a newer system. This strongly supported the group's original recommendation to retire the older system.
EEM data were also used to audit a recent study done by an energy consultant. After the consultant's recommendations were implemented, the system quickly verified and quantified the savings gained by these measures. The data were used to create a report for upper management that helped show the benefits of energy-focused initiatives and hopefully will lead to increased funding for these projects.
LOAD PROFILING FOR PROFIT
Whether a business draws from outside expertise for energy consulting, energy audits or retrofit services, having an EEM system in place is a very good idea. New EEM systems accurately profile a plant's energy consumption, breaking down energy use by facility, building, feeder and even by major loads. Armed with this information, management can make the most appropriate decisions on equipment retrofits, installation of "peak-shaving" generators or power reliability upgrades. Having a history of load profiles for each facility, and an aggregate profile for all buildings across a portfolio, can also help energy managers compare utility rates and choose the best supplier or negotiate a better contract with their current supplier.
AVOIDING POOR POWER QUALITY
Poor power quality can negatively affect a number of types of loads running in an industrial or commercial facility, especially automation and computer equipment. It can reduce equipment life and cause nuisance breaker trips and equipment failures, and though some power problems can come from the utility side--such as disturbances caused by lightning strikes or trees downing power lines--the vast majority of power quality problems are generated within facilities.
Because power quality problems in turn affect reliability and uptime, it is critical to have an information and alarming system in place. EEM systems keep operations staff on top of real-time conditions and allow them to "drill down" to the sources of high harmonics, sags, transients and other power anomalies. Sources can be quickly isolated and either corrected directly, or the data provided by the EEM system can help in determining the required specifications for mitigation equipment to avoid future problems.
Data and call centers have critical power needs where a few seconds of downtime can represent extreme revenue loss. The LexisNexis data center uses an EEM system to ensure 24-hour reliability by continuously checking the health of the electrical system, including the uninterruptible power supply systems.
Oracle Corp. has customers that depend on its 24-hour call center. Power interruptions can mean as much as $5 to $10 million dollars per day in lost sales and productivity. To avoid these costs. Oracle employs an EEM system to monitor power quality and transformer conditions and to page facility personnel during alarms. Savings have also been realized by identifying areas of high energy usage, improving energy efficiency and utility bill auditing.
LEVERAGING ON-SITE POWER
Many industrial and commercial businesses are already taking advantage of on-site power for either peak-shaving purposes or emergency backup power and, in some cases, to sell power back to the grid. Some power utilities are also starting to implement distributed generation to meet increasing demands and avoid having to tax an already overburdened transmission system, with the potential side benefit being increased reliability for the customer. Whether operated by an industrial plant or by the utility, a generator set needs proper monitoring and control to ensure it is operating efficiently and is reliably coordinated with the local power delivery system. EEM systems offer the high-accuracy energy metering, monitoring of all physical engine parameters (e.g., fuel, pressure, temperature, etc.) and advanced communications and software needed to fully manage generation assets. Meters installed on one or more generators can communicate with head-end systems over either a corporate Ethernet network or telephone lines, radio links or the Internet for more remote locations.
EMERGING ENERGY ANALYTICS CAPABILITIES
An emerging area of EEM technology is energy analytics. This is analogous to analytics capabilities previously available for other business systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning or Customer Relationship Management, in this case applied to energy cost and reliability. New Web-enabled analytics capabilities include the ability to accurately predict enterprise-wide costs by integrating multiple influences such as load profiles, weather patterns and utility rates through a powerful rate engine and validation system. Advanced and powerful interfaces roll up crucial information into "digital dashboards" and "key performance indicators" that give all stakeholders immediate access to timely energy cost, consumption and reliability information. These features help energy managers benchmark and compare facility performance, as well as to react quickly and dynamically to opportunities such as procuring energy based on real-time pricing, managing loads to take advantage of demand-response or load curtailment programs and avoiding demand or power factor penalties.
An EEM system can also accurately verify utility billing, catching any errors for which the utility should be providing compensation. The high accuracy of submetering components enables accurate tenant billing or departmental cost allocation. This can avoid over- or under-billing (and the associated tenant disputes) as well as give visibility to energy saving opportunities, encouraging further cost reductions and best practices across an organization.
Brookfield Properties--one of North America's largest real estate companies--is using EEM to control energy costs, automate tenant billing and improve operational efficiencies throughout its portfolio of Canadian commercial office properties. The Internet-based system uses a network of intelligent energy meters to gather data from each property. This is conveyed to system software that combines energy usage data with other sources such as real-time weather and utility pricing feeds, and presents it in an integrated "dashboard" display. Using advanced utility rate analysis, site-to-site benchmarking and key performance indicators, the EEM system provides the information that will help managers reduce energy, capital expenses and operations costs.
John Van Gorp (250-652-7100) is the manager for industrial and commercial market segments at Power Measurement.…