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CIP energy management team coordinator makes a big difference


Energy Management Teams—Coordinator Resource Pilot Project
. Many businesses, including large commercial and industrial (C&I) facilities, have the potential to realize significant energy savings from untapped improvements in operations and maintenance (O&M) practices.  However, financial obligations, time and staffing constraints, and existing institutional practices create significant barriers to implementation. Many customers also lack experience with energy and resource accounting tools for benchmarking the efficiency of their facilities, and for tracking progress of efficiency and conservation efforts. An economic environment characterized by slow growth and high uncertainty can contribute to the reluctance to make significant capital outlays for energy efficiency upgrades. These factors increase the urgency for utility Conservation Improvement Programs (CIPs) to assist customers in achieving energy savings from low/no-cost (LC/NC) measures and O&M improvements.

The goal of the “Energy Management Teams—Coordinator Resource Pilot” CARD project, awarded to Franklin Energy Services LLC, was to evaluate the impact of providing a dedicated energy management team (EMT) coordinator to C&I customers. Researchers suspected that EMTs on their own often do not achieve the levels of energy savings that are available, and that a dedicated EMT coordinator would help to increase savings levels. In order to investigate this premise, five customers in the service territory of gas utility Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation (MERC) were selected to have an EMT coordinator dedicate 20 percent of his time from Aug. 1, 2010 to July 31, 2012 to coordinate internal EMTs as they identified and implemented energy conservation improvements.  

The results of the project were positive, indicating that the EMT coordinator had helped to increase energy savings projects and the associated energy savings at the participating organizations. During the EMT pilot period, participants outperformed a comparison group by:

  1. implementing an average number of energy savings projects nearly twice as high as the comparison group;
  2. achieving higher annual savings of natural gas and electricity than the comparison group;
  3. attaining a conversion ratio of implemented-to-identified natural gas projects that was nearly 50 percent higher than that of the comparison group; and
  4. attaining a conversion ratio of achieved therms savings over identified potential therms savings that was nearly three times that of the comparison group.

The report goes on to discuss how the EMT coordinator worked with EMTs to overcome barriers and implement energy savings measure. The report also discusses the results at the five participant organizations and offers program design recommendations for utilities interested in offering an EMT coordinator to C/I customers through their CIP programs. The final report is available here. For more on the EMT project, contact grant project manager Laura Silver (laura.silver@state.mn.us or 651-539-1873).