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Energy Program Documentation

By April 3, 2012December 26th, 2021Briefs

Trust me, it’s energy efficient.

Believe it or not, we’ve heard versions of this from program participants: “I just installed a 50-hp air compressor and my vendor told me it was going to save 8 billion kWh. I’d like my rebate now please.”

One of the services we provide is technical support of utility energy programs. We get many projects submittals with little to no supporting documentation, sometimes without make and model numbers of the new equipment! The project is unique and may include using a different feedstock to improve productivity and save energy. How do you handle this? There are evaluators to think about. There are regulators with whom you may have to present your case. Finally, there is the customer, many of whom do not understand there are program objectives and rules to follow.

Without applying uniform rules and analysis guidelines to each and every custom project, the program can be open to questioning by customers and that can lead to their going to regulators and/or lawmakers, especially on big projects with tens of thousands of dollars “in play”. Customers and/or their consultants and contractors talk, and if one end user gets an incentive for a similar measure that isn’t the same as the other customer received, there will be trouble.

Custom efficiency programs need a consistent and documented approach to determining energy savings for any project that may come through the program door. This methodology can be documented in the custom efficiency section of a Technical Resource Manual or TRM.

What does this look like?

A custom efficiency guide has to cover all the non-prescriptive measures, essentially those not “regulated” by energy codes such as industrial refrigeration, agribusiness, process, and some component like air compressors and variable frequency drives. The guide should include:

  • Baselines for unregulated equipment including air and refrigerant compressors, signage lighting, agribusiness equipment, and commercial refrigeration.
  • General baseline guidance for process equipment and systems.
  • What to do when production rates change.
  • Under what circumstances should a project in an existing facility be considered new construction?
  • Guidelines to ensure persistence such as requiring a level of automation or physical changes to prevent reversion to previous operation.

The guide must be revised periodically to include revisions and adjustments to current guidelines and methodologies and to add things as new precedents are set.

Where is this needed?

All energy efficiency programs, including mature ones, should have this kind of documentation to be fair to customers, provide rules by which evaluators evaluate programs, protect implementers and/or utilities from frivolous unfounded claims for incentives, and making decision making objective. The consistent application of energy saving measures will protect a program from angry customers who think they have been treated differently than others. Bad news spreads fast. Be proactive with a custom efficiency guide and minimize issues before they surface.

Michaels Energy

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