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White Paper: Go Green. Save Green. Earn Green.

September 27, 2018

In this white paper, we’ll explore the various forms that demand-side energy management takes. We’ll look at how one university seized the opportunity to generate significant revenue from demand response participation and succeeded spectacularly. Finally, we’ll examine distributed energy resources and how another university found an innovative way to both optimize their energy program and maximize their revenue with intelligent storage.

Webinar: Leverage Your Generator Assets To Earn Revenue

Properly permitted, your emergency generation—EG—is both a reliability asset and a revenue generator. EG provides a great opportunity to earn revenue and save on energy costs through demand response (DR) and demand management programs.

The path from emergency generation to revenue generation, though, may seem like a complex, confusing, and occasionally contradictory thicket of state and local environmental regulations. Few organizations fully understand the scope and intricacies of EG regulation, which often results in misinformation, missteps, and missed revenue opportunities.

Fortunately, CPower’s extensive experience and knowledge base has led hundreds of organizations through the jumble of regulations and provided a clear path to monetizing EG assets. This webinar covers everything today’s energy managers and engineers need to to know to maximize the benefits of their EG portfolio. It includes:

  • A brief history of emergency generation as a component of demand-side energy management, and the numerous rule changes that have created the current EG landscape
  • How existing generators can be upgraded to meet increasingly stringent permitting requirements, bringing previously excluded MWs back into the market
  • ​Success stories illustrating how CPower has helped find and reclaim “lost” megawatts and enroll them in lucrative demand response and demand management programs​​

Join Ray Berkebile, CPower’s nationally recognized EG permitting expert, and CPower engineer Alison Keefe as they lead this in-depth look at how your EG assets can generate revenue for you, too.

Download the slides: Leverage Your Generator Assets To Earn Revenue Webinar (PDF)

Watch: The Evolution of the California Energy Market

December 19, 2017

California always seems to be at the center of innovation. When it comes to sustainable and renewable energy goals, it continues to deliver by leading the evolution of our nation’s energy mix away from finite sources that dominated the 20th century to the renewables that are poised to power our world today and in the future. Achieving the state’s ambitious energy goals, however, involves changing the way California procures, distributes, and uses energy.

CPower’s California team—Jennifer Chamberlin, Diane Wiggins, and JP Harper—present a clear picture of the integral roles demand response and demand management will play as California leads our nation’s push toward a sustainable energy future. Topics include factors driving the market, the impact of distributed energy resources (DER) such as storage, and the important role demand response plays in DER today.

For a detailed look at how California is tracking toward its energy goals, read “The Evolution of the California Energy Market,” a white paper by CPower’s Jennifer Chamberlin.

Case Study: Virginia State University

December 11, 2017

Virginia’s Opportunity University:

successfully seized the opportunity to earn additional revenue for the school through demand response

The Customer: Virginia State University

Virginia State University (VSU), founded in 1882, is one of Virginia’s two land-grant institutions. It boasts a current student population of approximately 4,700. VSU’s 231-acre campus includes 11 residence halls, 18 academic buildings and a 412-acre working farm used for agriculture research. VSU features academic environments within six colleges and is ranked No. 12 institution in the United States for historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs) by College Choice.

Ms. Jane Harris, Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Capital Outlays, was enthusiastic about PJM Interconnection’s demand response (DR) program, which pays organizations for curtailing energy use during times of high demand that strain the region’s electrical grid. She felt VSU had a good probability of a successful outcome, generating revenue to fund needed campus upgrades. In 2014, she was given the go-ahead to enroll in DR.

Team of Professionals

To make sure the university’s DR participation had a successful launch, Ms. Harris built a leadership team which included the facilities management staff and building managers. The team was led by one of her project managers, Mr. George “Bubba” Bowles. Mr. Bowles brought deep knowledge of utility operations and was tasked with managing the project. CPower, represented by Ms. Leigh Anne Ratliff, brought unmatched expertise in PJM’s DR curtailment program.

Planning and Communication

Mr. Bowles developed a demand response action plan that included a survey of all campus buildings, and the energy technology available in each building. The campus infrastructure was not designed to curtail energy quickly and easily. Not every building was equipped with sub-meters and automated controls, and some generators could supply power for only emergency lighting. Nonetheless, Mr. Bowles felt that with proper planning, training, and communication, VSU would succeed.

Communication–specifically communicating the program’s benefits–proved to be the key component of the plan. Months before the first test event, which required the university to reduce their usage at a particular date and time, the leadership team undertook an extensive communication program that targeted the university’s building managers, campus facilities maintenance contractor, information technology staff, facilities inspector, campus safety officer, and Yourdonus James, Conference Services Manager, who schedules outside groups for events on campus. Each step of the plan was explained in detail, emphasizing the real and substantial benefits the university would receive from DR. As the test date approached, specific tasks were assigned to facilities staff and the safety officer that would help VSU meet their targeted curtailment goals, from turning on generators to turning off the breakers to entire buildings. Ms. James explained that she was concerned when first informed of the demand response program, but the actual test proved transparent with no noticeable impact on her clients.

In June 2015, VSU participated in its first test event and exceeded its curtailment goal. In 2016, they set their curtailment goal even higher and exceeded that as well. In 2017, they set their goal higher.

“We make it easy for them to say ‘Yes’ by showing that it benefits them.”

— Robert “Bubba” Bowles, Project Manager

 

Record-Setting Reduction

The event test for 2017 was scheduled for a June afternoon at exactly 2:00 p.m. Around noon the plan, improved and streamlined over the past two years, was put into action. HVAC was cut off to 19 buildings, which were pre-cooled. In 10 buildings, energy could not be curtailed, so building managers enlisted the tenants to close blinds, turn off lights and computers, and schedule a late lunch to reduce usage during the test. Power to another 19 buildings was shut off completely.

As the plan proceeded, they faced an “11th-hour-and-59th-minute” challenge that threatened their continuing success. The team learned that at that moment, VSU was hosting 900 potential students at all academic buildings, including Daniel Gymnasium, one of the buildings targeted for complete shutdown. Not only that, but the students were to be sent out to explore any building of their choosing–many of them already curtailed–at exactly 2:00 p.m. Shifting gears, the team quickly “un-curtailed” Daniel Gymnasium.

At 2:00 p.m, with the temperature outside registering 87 degrees, VSU began its test curtailment. VSU had committed to curtailing their load by approximately 4 MW. By the time the event ended, of a total campus load of 6 MW, VSU curtailed 4.5 MW–an unprecedented 75% campus-wide load reduction.

Secret of Success

The one factor that all team leaders agree was critical to success is effective communication. By communicating clearly not only what had to be done, but why, the team was able to get buy-in from the entire campus community. Ms. Harris made it clear that the revenue generated by DR would benefit them directly–they would have the funds to do things that they normally wouldn’t be able to afford. Each building manager became an enthusiastic stakeholder, which assured campus-wide success. As Mr. Bowles notes, “We make it easy for them to say ‘Yes’ by showing that it benefits them.”

Rewards of Demand Response

Three years of increasingly profitable participation has funded a number of university facility projects. Chief among them are upgrades to two residence halls in the historical section of campus. The upgrades turned residence halls into destinations for which students now compete for assignment.

VSU has also been able to pursue energy efficiency projects that result in permanent curtailment and energy savings. Residence halls are being upgraded to highly efficient LED lighting, and generators are being upgraded to full building operation. Both upgrades, besides saving energy, have the potential for adding more revenue from DR participation.

Perhaps more importantly, the success of DR at VSU has helped create a culture of energy conservation and sustainability on campus. Faculty, staff, and students increasingly embrace programs such as recycling, energy conservation, and research into environmental programs and economic development. “Virginia’s Opportunity University” is also becoming “Virginia’s

Sustainability University,” true stewards of the earth that anchors their mission.


Download a shareable PDF version of this case study 

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Forward Capacity: New Revenue Source for Energy Efficiency Projects

August 30, 2017

Energy efficiency projects are well-known for their long-term cost savings and permanent energy load reduction. In the PJM Interconnection, they can also generate unexpected but substantial revenue streams when offered on PJM’s forward capacity market as a capacity resource. Proper measurement and verification, though, is the key.

How does energy efficiency help regional transmission organizations stabilize the power grid?

When a facility reduces its energy use, the grid no longer has to dedicate as many resources to it and can instead reinvest them elsewhere. Think of the electric grid as an office parking lot, where the grid’s capacity for energy is the same as the parking lot’s capacity for cars. The lot only has so many spaces! If one office can reduce the number of commuters who use parking spaces, then there are more spaces available and the parking lot has a lower chance of reaching capacity. In the same way that a reduction in parking demand can be considered a source of newly available parking spaces, a reduction in power demand can be considered a source of newly available energy.

PJM Interconnection, the regional transmission organization for the mid-Atlantic region,  coordinates the movement of wholesale energy and secures power resources for future electricity demand. The balance between demand and supply of electricity is always critical due to potential generation shortages and grid overloads. In order to assure the stability of the power grid, PJM runs an annual forward capacity auction.

A forward capacity auction solicits bids to meet capacity resource commitments to an amount that PJM estimates as future peak demand (four years ahead for the initial auction). PJM then provides revenues to the capacity providers, such as energy efficiency projects, that can fulfill their expected commitments. The revenues are called “capacity payments” and are competitively determined by the forward capacity market.

Eligible energy efficiency projects, such as lighting retrofits, HVAC upgrades, variable frequency drives, LEED buildings, and many other common energy efficiency improvements can be rewarded for their reduction in energy use through the PJM Interconnection forward capacity market. After a project is completed, the demand reduction must be measured and verified by an authorized provider, such as CPower Energy Management. Accurate identification and analysis of the change in electricity demand that your project generates serves to authenticate its value in the PJM market. Once a project’s eligibility has qualified, CPower can offer it on the forward capacity auction.

For larger projects, this means there could be significant revenue waiting to be captured with very little effort. This revenue can be rolled back into additional energy efficiency projects that produce even more financial value upon completion as well as the long-term savings realized in the permanent reduction of energy use by efficiency upgrades.

If your facility is contemplating energy efficient upgrades, or has completed a project within the last four (4) years, consider seeking capacity payments as an additional benefit from, or incentive for, your energy efficiency improvements. There is usually no monetary risk, and very little action required to learn if your project is eligible. Give us a call at 844-276-9371 to start the process today.

 

Demand response contributes more than just sustainability to K-12 public school system

May 01, 2017

The Virginia Beach City Public School System is on a mission. At the heart of that mission lies a commitment to education, which you’d expect from the largest school division in southeastern Virginia. What you might not expect is how money earned from participating in demand response programs is helping fund the VBCPS’ drive toward academic excellence.

Ranked the fifth best large school division in the entire nation by GreatSchools, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) has earned a reputation for fostering a culture of outstanding academics.

That’s not all the school division has earned lately.

Since 2014, VBCPS has also earned over $250,000 through demand response and demand management. The increased revenue has helped pave the way for a sustainable future of energy efficiency and academic achievement.

Compass to 2020
VBCPS’ Charting the Course initiative was launched in 2015 to set the vision of school division over the next five years. The strategic framework includes four goals – high academic expectations, multiple pathways, social-emotional development, and culture of growth and excellence – and multiple strategies to guide this important work. This focus on excellence at VBCPS extends into their drive towards energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives across their entire K-12 campus system and facilities.

VBCPS understands the importance of conserving resources and protecting our environment. Among the nearly 70,000 students and approximately 15,000 employees are the often unique and innovative conservation efforts that can be found in every office and school in the division. As a testimony to this commitment, they have embraced Demand Response participation with support at all levels of the organization, from the office of the president to the facilities personnel, faculty, and students.

The Opportunity
VBCPS has been participating in the PJM Emergency Capacity DR and Energy Efficiency programs with CPower since 2013. They participate through the State Contract E194-1378 administered by the Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME), which has joined forces with CPower to bring enhanced Demand Response services to Virginia.
VBCPS has 85 schools, 13 of which were registered in 2016 to participate in the Emergency DR program. The peak load of the 13 school campuses is 9.6MW of which they curtail 8MW when called upon to reduce load during times of grid emergencies. Since 2014, their efforts have brought in earnings of over $250,000, which they have used to fund additional efficiency projects to support campus-wide sustainability goals.

Consistent Success
VBCPS staff at each participating school takes ownership of their Demand Response participation and have consistently over-performed each season thanks to:

  • Excellent cross-functional preparation and pre-season on-boarding with their facilities personnel and the CPower team
  • End-to-end communications/notifications exercise and load drop test conducted by CPower allows the VBCPS team to identify potential issues (if any) and take actions to fix them
  • Effective curtailment planning strategies to optimize load reductions with minimal impact on campus staff and students
  • Complete buy-in, approvals and support from the VBCPS school division management
  • VBCPS facilities team has sharp focus on setting up a detailed process for participation based on each school’s timecards and student schedules/events
  • Team expectations clearly; communications plan includes command central (radio, email, telephone, text) with notifications as early as possible
    Regular meetings and clear internal communications (via newsletters, posters etc.)
  • Team expectations clearly; communications plan includes command central (radio, email, telephone, text) with notifications as early as possible
  • Regular meetings and clear internal communications (via newsletters, posters etc.)
  • Every year pre-season, the VBCPS team proactively updates their Demand Response informational guide and set of procedures
  • With a total of 8 staff in Central Command and 30 across the other schools; they maintain 2-3 trained staff per school, with 1 person handling a specific event at each school and the rest at back -up in the case of vacations/illness. Moreover, experienced staff members act as mentors/trainers for others that are new to the program.

Challenges and Lessons Learned
Some initial challenges included managing data from multiple utility meters as well as different building automation systems (BAS). However, the methods used above with site-specific planning allowed VBCPS to overcome the hurdles. Some sites have an Easy Button and use an automated approach while some utilize a more detailed hands-on approach.
In the end, clear communications and reliable equipment/metering are key factors for consistent performance. For instance, there was an emergency event called at the end of the season in 2013, where VBCPS delivered per their commitments even though school was fully in session. The schools also got the added benefit of earning energy payments from that event.

Forward-Thinking towards a Sustainable Future
Additionally, in 2014 the team pioneered the State of Virginia Energy Efficiency effort with lighting upgrades across the division footprint. They embraced the energy efficiency program, connecting CPower with their contractors to get the required information of qualified projects, and ultimately will earn close to $100,000 for their efforts.

Looking to the future, VBCPS has consistently added load reductions to their commitment to support grid reliability. They have added 8 more schools with an additional 2.8 MW of curtailable load to participate in the 2017 PJM performance season program, and are also exploring the PJM Economic DR program. Four new lighting upgrades from the spring of 2017 were submitted to the PJM Energy Efficiency program. The team at VBCPS are a powerful asset to demand response. By providing their operating procedures as a starting point to other participants, they have served as mentors for other schools – providing encouragement to their peers so they feel confident to take advantage of the program and optimize energy earnings and savings at other K12s across the Commonwealth.

Contact Leigh Anne Ratliff or anyone on CPower’s PJM team at www.CPowerEnergyManagement.com/markets/pjm-interconnection-contact

Understanding kW vs kWh (and Meter Data) to Lower Your Utility Bills

March 31, 2017

Many customers as well as my colleagues at CPower often ask me about the benefits of installing reliable metering equipment to access energy data in near real time. I typically respond with a handful of advantages (some listed below), but even before going there I find it useful to explain the full context about why these are important.

No discussion on the topic would be complete without a basic understanding of Demand (measured in kilowatts or kW) versus Consumption (measured in kilowatt hours or kWh). This is key to making the right choices when it comes to reducing energy costs, since electricity use for a commercial/industrial customer is typically billed and metered after taking at least these factors into consideration:

  1. Maximum kilowatt use (or kW demand) during a given period, typically in 15- or 30-minute intervals, and
  2. Total cumulative consumption (in kWh).

So, what’s the big deal between kW vs kWh?

An analogy using traditional light bulbs can help: Consider a single 100W bulb lit for ten hours versus ten 100W bulbs lit simultaneously for one hour. In both scenarios, the total cumulative “consumption” is 1,000 watt-hours (or 1 kWh). In the first case, however, the single light bulb will “demand” 100W or 0.1 kW from the electric supplier. Thus, the utility must have that 0.1 kW ready whenever that bulb is switched on. But note how the second scenario impacts the utility from a “demand” perspective. The electric supplier in this case must be ready to deliver 10x as much ‘capacity’ in response to the demand of the 10 light bulbs burning simultaneously!

Quite simply, here’s the difference. If these two scenarios reflected the behavior of two different customers, and if they were each billed for only their consumption, then both would get the same bill (for 1 kWh of energy used) even though the burden placed on the utility to meet each customer’s energy requirement is very different. Among other reasons, this is primarily why C&I (as opposed to residential) customers are typically metered and billed based on both their hourly “consumption” patterns and their peak “demand” for energy.

Demand-side energy management in near real time

CPower’s savvy demand response (DR) customers effectively leverage the energy they consume as a facility asset. Our diverse customer base covers mid- to large-sized electricity users in commercial, industrial, government and institutional organizations, including water/wastewater pumping and treatment facilities, colleges and universities, public agencies, office campuses, cold storage, data centers and a wide range of manufacturing facilities, to name just a few.

Many of our most active DR participants nationwide additionally leverage real-time metering for its clear advantages, including more visibility and control over load reductions as well as better overall energy management and sustainability benefits. The image above shows just two of the many views available to users via the CPower App (the graph on top shows 7-day hourly interval consumption while the one below shows demand on an intra-day 1-minute interval chart).

Key reasons to get real-time metering installed at your facility:

  • You can identify unusual or erratic equipment behavior to help avoid catastrophic failure. This is from a recent real-world example: Our team at CPower was working with the operations team for a large commercial real estate and property management firm, and picked up on unusual/erratic daytime usage patterns at one of their facilities. A look at the major systems of the building revealed that a chiller which had been recently serviced was to blame. Further investigation revealed that during a recent service call the chiller had been severely over-charged with refrigerant. Having a near real-time window into their energy usage enabled the facilities personnel to identify the unusual usage pattern, and proactively remedy a potential chiller issue that could have resulted in thousands of dollars in repair costs and possibly escalated their demand charges had it gone unnoticed.
  • Similarly, you may discover unusual, wasteful patterns or aberrations in overall facility energy usage as well as specific areas (e.g., an BAS reset inadvertently switches on all lights in an unoccupied underground parking garage at 2 AM).
  • Simplify on-site event planning (e.g., for K-12 schools or colleges) and/or production line scheduling (for manufacturing) with day-ahead pricing and forecasting at your fingertips.
  • Quickly and accurately substantiate the impact of your energy efficiency initiatives and sustainability programs (and share results with your team and management).
  • Avoid setting a new annual or monthly consumption peak, enabling you to manage demand charges for next year. Click to see more on Peak Demand Management in New England and Texas, for example.
  • Immediately evaluate the efficacy of (and fine tune as needed) new load curtailment strategies.
  • Further leverage your building automation systems and curtailment planning while minimizing impact on occupants (students, staff, employees, tenants, etc.).
  • Facilitate optimized participation in multiple DR programs, including Emergency Capacity, Economic DR, Ancillary Services, and more.
  • In addition to monitoring real-time utility load, several customers (i.e. a manufacturer of water valves and a supplier of military components) also view sub-meter data in the CPower App to provide them with a more granular, process-level picture of the energy usage in their facility.

The Bottom line

Real-time metering ultimately increases your DR earnings and savings to fund additional efficiency initiatives, while complementing your facility’s energy conservation and sustainability efforts. There are no out-of-pocket costs, since fees to install hardware, support software provisioning and enable data measurement & verification (M&V) are typically covered by DR program earnings.

By giving you near real-time visibility and analytics of your energy consumption, enhanced metering techniques provide more earnings and savings via greater control over your DR participation and greater awareness of electricity usage patterns (remember kW vs kWh!)