Large General Service Conservation Rate hits the bottom line

One year after its introduction, the new conservation rate structure for Large General Service (LGS) customers has been paying off for those who've tackled energy-efficiency projects.

The rate structure provides a credit (or a charge) on customers' bills, based on the amount of electricity they consume below (or above) their own baseline. The baseline is determined by their historic usage. (Read full details about how the rate works.)

"Our focus now is to help customers see the direct link between the new rate structure and increased savings for conservation measures," says Maureen Black, BC Hydro's manager of business conservation rates. "We're hearing positive feedback from customers who are seeing credits. And for those who may be just starting to assess how the rate structure works for them, we have some great online tools, such as the Forecaster, where customers can enter their projected energy use and get an instant estimate of their savings.

"There are also are a couple of two-minute videos that provide a great overview of the new rate and the forecasting tool."

About 6,000 LGS customers — some industrial, some commercial — shifted to the conservation rate structure in January, 2011. In April 2012, the first group of Medium General Service (MGS) customers will start to shift to conservation rates too.

There are about 15,000 MGS accounts, so they will be shifted in groups over a three-year period. If you're in the first group to change, you will have already received information from BC Hydro.

Once the MGS customers have shifted, 90% of BC Hydro's domestic load (total electricity consumption in B.C.) will be on conservation rate structures.

With a year of billing under the new rate structure, many LGS customers who have been working towards energy efficiency — working with Power Smart through the Product Incentive Program and the Industrial Program — are seeing the results. Below are some of their stories.

Freybe Gourmet Foods: getting people on board

From left to right: Olaf Vinge, Gilberto Peña, Rob Borri, Ken East, Dirk Schricker, Lloyd McMath, Damon Schricker, Heather Gregerson, Martin Leonhardt, Keith Andrushack, Peter Morse.

Freybe, a Langley-based manufacturer of deli meat products, has been working to improve energy efficiency through lighting and refrigeration upgrades. That meant monthly energy consumption during 2011 was consistently below the company's historic baseline, providing a credit of $2,000-$4,000 per month on their bill

From January through the end of November, 2011, the total credit was nearly $34,000, of which $11,500 was due to the conservation rate structure.

Says Olaf Vinje, energy manager: "The new rate has worked out super well for us. The credits have been fabulous, and it has helped the whole company understand [energy efficiency] better, and see the benefit of what they're doing.

"When we first started our energy efficiency work, it was slow; everyone wondered what I was doing. But after we got a new refrigeration control system installed and the energy savings went up tremendously, that's when it really hit home. And on top of that we got a credit on our bill every month from BC Hydro. It helped get people on board."

Cintas Canada: better payback

Cintas Canada Corporation is a corporate identity uniform company that rents and services uniforms, towels, and other items for companies across North America. Their 60,000 square foot plant in Langley started on energy efficiency upgrades a few years ago, and the company's accountants project savings of approximately 10% on electricity due to retrofits already in place.

Meanwhile, the new rate helped boost the profile of a proposed project to improve plant-wide lighting.

"Without a question, [the rate] made a difference," says Gord Spruyt, chief engineer at the Langley plant. "A bigger project like this has to be submitted and approved by different levels of management and they're responsible for all [280] locations.

"The big thing they're looking at is payback. The rate changes basically cut our payback in half, and got it down to a point where they got really excited about it, and said yes, definitely go ahead and do it."

Castle Fun Park: reduced costs despite growth

Castle Fun Park in Abbotsford offers everything from bumper cars to batting cages to bowling and mini-golf — which make it a significant consumer of electricity.

The company has been working on energy efficiency by replacing incandescent and halogen lamps with LEDs, which provide the level of lighting and durability required in a kid-oriented venue. More than 1,500 lamps have been replaced.

The park is now saving an estimated $19,000 per year on its electricity bill — despite growing their business overall. Brandon Bahris, the park's director of operations, says the conservation rate structure has made a noticeable impact on the bottom line.

"We're seeing very sizeable credits each month on our account," he says. "It's proof that no matter how we spin it, this has been a very attractive incentive and has given us the assurance that we're headed in the right direction."