Media
05/1/12

Earn a solid ROI from energy savings

The first place to look for energy savings is often city services.

City services are major energy users. That often makes them an ideal place to achieve solid return on investment (ROI) from energy savings.

Wastewater facilities, for example, consume large amounts of energy for everything from ultra-violet (UV) treatment systems, to large-scale pump stations and lagoon treatment systems, to fans, blowers and pumps.

These facilities can represent huge opportunities to reduce electricity use - and save money. All it takes is commitment, cooperation and prudent capital investments.
Wave 19

The City of Vancouver, Washington recently embarked on an energy savings program designed to quickly return its investments. In 2011, the City, Clark Public Utilities and Area Clean Water Agencies partnered with Veolia North America to achieve substantial reductions in electricity consumption at the city's two wastewater treatment plants.

"In approximately 1 ½ years, the two plants have collectively reduced electrical consumption by about 2 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually and we expect to at least match that in the next 1 ½ years," explained Aaron Kraft, Veolia's Vancouver project manager. "Reducing the amount of electricity we use not only helps lower carbon emissions but it also lessens the need for additional power plants or transmission lines, both of which impact electrical utility ratepayers."

The plants have achieved such reductions through strategic investments in new, more energy-efficient equipment. All ROI's were less than five years. In fact, since July 1, 2010, the Vancouver project has collectively saved over 3,650,000 MWh through the implementation of City and Veolia capital investments and operational improvements. Some of those projects included:
  • Replacing centrifugal blowers at each facility with highly efficient air foil turbo blowers;
  • Replacing an older model water-cooled compressor with a new, air-cooled model;
  • Using reduced-horsepower pumps, including replacing a 100-horsepower unit with a 20-horsepower model with no loss of pumping efficiency;
  • Making operational and programming adjustments to the UV treatment systems;
  • Installation of variable frequency drives to operate various fans and motors;
  • Replacement upgrades to interior and exterior facility lighting.
In addition to creating a smaller, area-wide carbon footprint and other environmental benefits, the five-year program and plan has delivered cost savings to the city and ratepayers while offering more efficient and effective water services.

These enhancements have benefitted the wastewater plants, where Veolia pays for the utility costs, under the long-standing operate/maintain/manage (O&M) contract Veolia has with Vancouver.

The facilities have implemented other capital investments that will further reduce electricity use, such as the following:
  • Replacement of an existing 150-horsepower influent pump with a much more efficient 135-horsepower pump, which will also make the system safer, quieter and more reliable;
  • Making odor-control fans less energy-intensive by automatically controlling and reducing blade speed;
  • Upgrading exterior and interior lighting throughout the facilities; this is on track to save about 600,000 kilowatts a year.
"Teaming with the City and the local utility has allowed us to implement energy projects that would have exceeded originally anticipated ROIs," added Kraft. "This is in terms of a cleaner environment and lower costs for our company and for our residential, commercial and industrial users," he added.
 

Could you benefit from a focused energy-reduction program? If you want to know more about energy-savings partnerships, please contact us at 312-552-2800 or send us an email.

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