Industrial energy efficiency: Tips from three managers

From left to right: Shuaul Qamar, Elin Aasen, Glen Thompson, BC Hydro Key Account Managers.

Account managers debunk myths, offer advice on how to work with BC Hydro

Make a New Year's resolution to get your facility started on energy efficiency. Reduce costs, improve your operations, and engage your employees with efficiency projects supported by BC Hydro's Power Smart Industrial Program.

To get you started, we went to three Key Account Managers (KAMs) who work with industrial companies across the province. Glen Thompson, Elin Aasen and Shuaul Qamar shared tips about energy efficiency projects and how to work with BC Hydro, and debunked a few misconceptions. Read on — and let 2012 be your year for cutting costs and seizing savings.

Yes, BC Hydro will cut you a cheque

Customers who haven't worked with BC Hydro on an efficiency project are sometimes unclear about how, and how quickly, they'll receive their project incentive. Rest assured: it doesn't trickle in.

The KAMs say that once you've submitted the appropriate documents, you'll usually get a cheque (or electronic bank transfer) in 4-6 weeks.

What's funded? More than you think

What will BC Hydro fund in an efficiency project? It's not just equipment.

Depending on the nature of the project, the following are all eligible for funding:

  • Installation labour costs
  • Recycling fees for discarding old equipment
  • Up-front studies to develop the project
  • Engineering design
  • Project management

Some companies have even used funding to have their own employees handle an efficiency upgrade — and avoid being laid off — during lean times.

The customer chooses the consultant

"Sometimes customers tell me, 'I'm getting more quotes for you guys,'" says Qamar. "But we don't have that requirement. It's up to the customer to select the consultant or vendor they want for their project.

"All we ask is that the consultant meets the minimum criteria required for all Power Smart Projects. If the consultant is registered with the Power Smart Alliance they already meet this criteria; if not, we just ask for them to submit their criteria for our review to ensure they meet the minimum for performing the study or incentive project."

Note that you do need to wait until the incentive agreement is in place before ordering any new equipment.

Where to start: Customer Site Investigation (CSI) or Plant-Wide Audit

"For smaller industrial companies who are just starting to look for energy efficiency opportunities, the best place to start is a Customer Site Investigation," says Aasen.

A CSI shows where and how you use energy in your plant, and the 10 best areas for improving efficiency.

"Customers don't always know it's available, but it's fully funded, it's a no-brainer," she says.

For larger facilities consuming more than $1 million annually, the Plant-Wide Audit is the place to start. In this case, 75 per cent of study costs are funded by BC Hydro right away. The remaining 25 per cent (some study funding limits apply) is funded if you implement a major upgrade (minimum 50,000 kWh savings) within one year.

Start with low cost/no cost changes

"Your quickest payback opportunities are the low cost/no cost items," says Thompson. "The CSI and Plant Wide Audit results will provide you with recommendations for low-cost and no-cost measures such as procedural changes that can be quickly put into action to start saving right away."

Take a look at compressed air

Compressed air is one of the most energy intensive industrial end uses of electricity. Tackling leaks and other first steps on compressed air projects can yield significant savings and engage employees, making it an effective place to focus early efficiency efforts.

Pumps may be your best bet

Hands down, best energy savings for capital invested is probably optimizing your pumps system. Power Smart offers a variety of resources and funding opportunities to help you take advantage of this opportunity.

Power Smart Alliance a great resource

The Power Smart Alliance for industrial customers consists of consulting engineers and distributors and manufacturers who are registered with BC Hydro and knowledgeable about Power Smart programs.

They know what information is required, how to access incentives, and often help complete program paperwork to speed projects along. Power Smart Alliance members have also been evaluated by BC Hydro using a comprehensive list of criteria to meet quality standards.

Want to start? Just ask

"If a customer is stumped, they should definitely contact us because we're going to help them navigate our programs," says Aasen.

Qamar agrees: "Absolutely, we'll get them going on the right path. Any KAM is able to have that conversation on the front end, to walk in and say here is where we typically start, here's where you can find savings."

To learn more about Power Smart Industrial initiatives, contact your Key Account Manager, or BC Hydro Customer Care at 604 453 6400 (Lower Mainland) or 1 866 453 6400, elsewhere in B.C.)