Federal Energy Initiatives Energize Submeter Use
The myriad of public and private sector energy policies, while at times complicated, provides fertile ground for submeters as energy profilers and program verification tools. This article briefly overviews a few of the main policies now in effect, with an eye to their potential for submeter use.
In response to rising energy costs and tightening budgets, the last few years have seen a raft of new public and private-sector energy policy initiatives designed to micro-manage existing resources, reduce greenhouse gasses and encourage, whenever possible, the move toward renewable, non-fossil fuel energy sources. Although similarities exist in many of these programs, the common thread in all of them is the clear need for advanced submetering hardware and automatic meter reading (AMR) software solutions to cost effectively benchmark, measure and verify compliance with whatever program guidelines the facility is pursuing.
A Sampler of Public Sector Energy Initiatives
Following are only five of the many leading energy initiatives now impacting the federal energy sector, as well as the industrial, commercial, institutional and multi-family facility landscape. In each case, it is easy to demonstrate how submeters, readily available through most electrical wholesalers and distributors, can directly facilitate compliance with these policies in specific application areas.
1. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) contains several sections pertaining specifically to metering, including:
- Section 103-all Federal buildings must be metered by 2012
- Section 1251-net metering
- Section 1331-$1.80 per square foot tax deduction for the design and construction of energy-efficient buildings (Note: Originally slated to expire at the end of 2008, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424) extended the "Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Deduction" to December 31, 2013, per Section 303.)
2. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) is an omnibus energy policy designed to strengthen existing energy reduction goals and energy management requirements not only in government buildings, but throughout business and industry, as outlined in Title IV, Subtitles A-G. Section 543 states that energy consumption per gross square foot of Federal buildings shall be reduced compared to 2003 levels from 2% in fiscal 2006 to 30% in FY 2015. Section 434(b) further states that by not later than October 1, 2016 each agency shall provide for equivalent metering of natural gas and steam, in accordance with established guidelines. For the electrical contractor, this is easily and inexpensively accomplished, since advanced metering products from E-Mon and others, provide an easy, economical way to interface existing water, gas, steam and other pulse-input utility meters into the AMR system including inexpensively upgrading them to wireless capability.
3. Executive Order 13423-"Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy and Transportation Management"-deals with a broad range of issues from petroleum conservation to electronics management and everything in between. The measure's Energy Efficiency guidelines claim to be "50% more stringent than the goal in the Energy Policy Act of 2005." "Section VI. Energy & Water Management, A. Strategies and Tools, (3) Metering" mandates the installation of metering devices for potable water, electricity and thermal energy. Collected data is to be used by Federal tracking systems and made available to Federal facility managers for energy service contract negotiations. Opportunities for submetering under E.O. 13423 include:
- Energy efficiency and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
- Sustainable design/high-performance buildings
4. The EPA's Green Power Partnership is a renewable energy awareness program that is designed to incentivize high-volume power users to offload part of their energy needs to renewable (non-fossil fuel) sources. The agency provides its customers with expertise in technology issues, identification of green products and services and promotional awareness. Participation levels are based on the amount of green power purchased from renewable energy sources constructed after Jan. 1, 1997, as a percentage of the using organization's total annual base load in kWh. For example, a facility that uses 1-10 million kWh per year would have to buy 6% of its energy from green power sources to qualify as a "Green Power Partner." To qualify as a "Green Power Leadership Club" member, 60% of the facility's annual power buy would have to come from renewable sources. Whatever renewable energy source is used, the electrical load still has to be monitored an reported to verify compliance, an ideal application for submeters and AMR software.
5. The DOE's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) launched Save Energy Now to improve industrial energy management through no-cost energy assessments in partnership with national supply chains, industry associations, state and local agencies, utilities, etc. Energy assessments focus on process heating, steam, pumps, fans, compressed air, HVAC and others. Save Energy Now also offers a portfolio of resources, including training and education on best practices and tools, to help users become smarter on industrial energy conservation issues. Submetering opportunities in this environment include benchmarking equipment performance, diagnostics, tracking individual processes to isolate electrical loads, and more.
Bottom Line Considerations
The facility landscape is changing rapidly, driven by economic challenges and the need to save energy and cut operating costs. Savvy distributors and contractors will see in this bewildering array of energy programs opportunities for selling and installing the equipment that will help users meet the new requirements. Submeters are a perfect example of core equipment needed for the application. The old energy adage-"you can't manage what you don't measure"-is particularly appropriate to today's energy conscious facility environment and is also an effective door-opener to any discussion of energy monitoring and management.
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