3 Ways Cities Can Keep Energy Management Simple
Energy management is demanding, but cities can help keep it simple with smart meters, effective reporting and by encouraging day-to-day strategies to conserve energy.
Whether required by local or state laws -- or fueled by financial incentives -- both the public and private sectors seek to control demand of energy consumption in their buildings. Trends to reduce reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, however, often conflict with increasing energy demands from housing, economic development and other sectors.
Whether strategies reduce demand, increase efficiency or seek power alternatives through procurement of renewable energy, the following three actions can help cities launch effective, streamlined energy management processes.
#1 Consider Smart Meters
Smart meters can access energy usage data remotely, measuring every kilowatt-hour (kWh) and transmitting the data via radio frequency. They offer both customers and energy operators insights into reducing energy consumption. Municipal and state governments that collaborate with public and private utility operators to install smart meters have also found their grids to be more reliable with the ability to control for power production fluctuations and potential power outages.
Smart meters also reduce fleet energy consumption because there is no longer a need to staff and send out vehicles to read meters.
According to GreenTechMedia, smart meters have become the new norm. While private utilities have installed millions of smart meters nationwide, municipal utilities and electric cooperatives deployed more than 17 million smart meters by early 2017.
After five years of planning and debate, Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) of Alameda, California, recently installed and activated smart meters throughout its 34,000-strong customer base. They transmit encrypted data over a wireless network in order to maintain privacy and are central to the city’s plan to reduce energy usage related to other municipal services.
“The combination of new smart meters and updated online tools provides better, more complete information to inform Alamedans about their energy choices and will be invaluable tool to support new carbon reduction strategies, such as transportation electrification,” wrote Nicolas Procos, general manager of AMP, in the East Bay Times.
#2 Report & Track Energy Usage
Some states, like Texas, require governments to publish their energy usage and cost data. Also, a growing number of cities and states are requiring energy benchmarking within their jurisdictions.
That means that energy management reporting may be required by both commercial and government properties meeting certain thresholds. Buildings, industrial facilities, schools, stadiums and more in smaller cities may be required to report energy consumption data beginning at 10,000 square feet in size, while requirements in big cities might start at buildings that are 50,000 square feet or larger.
#3 Promote Easy Energy Wins
With good communication and energy incentive programs, municipalities can conserve energy throughout their cities. With better climate control via programmable thermostats, switching to LED lights for buildings and streetlights and encouraging use of low-energy appliances (and using them when energy demands are lower) they can reduce daily energy consumption as part of energy management processes.
The city of Denton, Texas, offers a GreenSense Incentive Program for residential, retail and small commercial customers in order to support its energy reduction goals for 2019. According to a presentation by the city’s business analyst, there’s no such thing as too much marketing to spread the word about the city’s energy management programs and incentives.
Denton offers free home energy audits that include blower door tests and use of thermal imaging cameras to determine air tightness and diagnose energy efficiency improvements in a report shared with customers. The city’s current program budget allocation also extends rebates on qualifying heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment, insulation and more. Rebates for residential energy efficiency purchases range from $50 - $700, and the city offers commercial and solar rebates as well.
Learn more about Denton’s program in the GreenSense Incentive Program Manual: