Alert Energy Energy Management Services - data driven solutions for cost savings Thu, 28 Sep 2017 17:00:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Alert Energy 32 32 Distributed energy resources and microgrids improve grid resilience Thu, 28 Sep 2017 17:00:40 +0000 Distributed energy helps recover from storms fasterThere is mounting evidence showing that distributed energy resources (decentralized renewable energy systems, local storage, small generators and microgrids) help with resilience of utility grids.

This was evident in the response Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The storm left millions without power (some for weeks), the economic impact was well into the billions and there was loss of life attributed to the damage to the power systems.  For examples, hospitals were shut down and evacuated, pharmacies and food stores were shut down and buildings lost power for elevators and heat.

Following Hurricane Sandy, officials encouraged the development of microgrids and other distributed energy resources – so facilities and areas of the grid can function  if the rest of the grid is down.  This ability to “island” certian portions of the grid has been used successfully in other areas where the grid is down due to weather, malfunction or human error.

Like in North Carolina this past summer where a microgrid installed by North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC) powered a community of about 1,000 people for days after a transmission line was accidentally cut by contractors.

These and many other examples are worth consideration after many parts of the Caribbean and US Gulf coast are facing devastating losses from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.   In some locations the electrical grid has been essentially wiped out.  If there are distributed energy systems in place, it could be possible to restore power to those locations to support the population which has lost their homes, possessions and supports of health services.  It remains to be seen if the rebuilding efforts will encourage or support more distributed energy systems, but the lessons are valuable in all jurisdictions as increased volatility in weather systems puts many Cities and States at risk of similar loss of power.

Beyond catastrophic loss of power, it is possible for distributed energy systems to also help with reducing capital costs in the electrical grid.

There are numerous examples where distributed energy systems are a less expensive alternative to grid and transformer system upgrades.  Such as Consolidated Edison’s approach to avoid $1.2 Billion worth of infrastructure upgrades required to ‘keep the lights on’ in Brooklyn and Queens NY.  They are accomplishing this through a combination of demand management and distributed energy systems to generate power closer to where it is needed.

In built up urban environments utility grids are constrained, and it results in hampering further growth and intensification in those areas as utility companies struggle to be able to afford grid upgrades.

Allowing for an increase in distributed energy resources is a lower cost, more resilient method for building the energy systems that serve our cities and buildings.  A growing number of examples show distributed energy is more resilient and a better economic investment, and so many cities, states and commercial interests are building this capacity.

Alert Energy is an energy management firm that helps make cities, grids and buildings more efficient.  We help local governments, cogen and microgrid operators and building owners and tenants find savings through the use of our analytics platform.  Contact us today to find out how we can help.  

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2017’s Best Markets for Energy Efficient Buildings Thu, 07 Sep 2017 13:01:55 +0000
Salt Lake City to Require Building Owners to Report Energy Scores Tue, 05 Sep 2017 12:38:39 +0000 After multiple drafts to work out the finer details, the city of Salt Lake City passed an ordinance to require building owners to report their energy scores. In a victory for the city, officials project that each year, the ordinance will save local building owners $15.8 million while cutting 29 tons of pollutants
The new ordinance requires owners of commercial buildings larger than 25,000 square feet to provide the city with an annual report of their facilities energy usage, a step toward the city’s goals of using 100 percent renewable electricity by 2032 and reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2040. As commercial buildings account for 51% of the local carbon footprint, this ordinance is quite the positive step in tackling the issue.
Earlier versions of the ordinance were met with heavy resistance from not only city officials, but The Church of Latter-Day Saints as well. The LDS church has significant real estate holdings in Salt Lake City. Compromises had to be made to appease all parties ranging from the faith, legislative, and business communities.
The final version adopted applies only to municipal and commercial buildings, not to places of worship or tax-exempt buildings. In addition, instead of publishing the energy scores of all such buildings, the city will publish only those buildings deemed to be more efficient than 50 percent of similar buildings nationwide, while giving building owners the option to go further and share their exact scores. Finally, potential tuneups identified during energy use assessments will be voluntary, though city officials think many of those tuneups will make sense to building owners from environmental and financial standpoints.
The ordinance will be phased in over the next three years. Owners of commercial buildings that are over 50,000 square feet will need to begin reporting May 2019, while owners of buildings that are between 25,000 and 50,000 square feet will have until May 2020.
Who Invests in Energy Efficiency and Why? Mon, 07 Aug 2017 18:54:30 +0000 The ACEE has published an insightful post on the topic “Who Invests in Energy Efficiency and Why?”

The report draws from a few different market surveys by different groups investigating different sectors of the economy.

Purchasing departments in different business sectors have many competing issues to address when making investment decisions.  A sample of representatives from different industries responded to a survey letting us know is “energy efficiency” is important or very important in the purchasing process:


Sectors of the economy that rate energy efficiency investment are important or very important.

Over time, the reasons for placing high value on an investment in energy efficiency can change.  For example, between 2013 – 2016 the reason of energy savings and cost reductions as a driver for investment went down (as did some energy prices) and compliance with government regulations went up (as did the number of regulations and increased standards for building and operating more efficient buildings and businesses).  Curiously, “company culture / CEO values” declined as a reason, while “employee retention and recruitment” along with “concerns about climate disruption / extreme weather” increased.


Energy efficiency as an investment has many different components that make investments in energy efficiency attractive.   Source:

Energy efficiency as an investment has many different components that make the investments in energy efficiency attractive.


Energy efficiency investments make for sound business practices, and this study helps to better understand the driving forces behind the decisions to make such investments.  We’ve heard some anecdotal evidence as to why businesses will not invest in efficiency, which generally are a variation of the perception that they don’t want any disruptions, they don’t have the budget, they don’t think the savings will add up, or their selling the building or business in the short term so not investing.  All those reasons are also valid and ultimately are a reason to say “not yet” as opposed to “no”, since inevitably the efficiency of economy as a whole tends to improve over time.  The businesses that delay investments in energy efficiency are missing opportunities for improved cash flow and balance sheets, while the competition is reaping the benefits.








Open data format for Illinois utilities Wed, 02 Aug 2017 19:10:01 +0000 The [ Illinois Commerce Commission] has recently finalized an [ “Open Data access framework”]

The framework positions the energy using customer as the owner of the energy data, and the utility company as the guardian of the data, which is an important shift in opening access to information for the consumer. Too many utilities have unclear, inconsistent or inadequate policies around collection, storage and access to customer data.

It has been developed to ensure consistency and transparency for access their energy use data from a utility company – whether the request is from a consumer, an authorized third party or a researcher seeking anonymous data sets.

There are clear policy directions on:

  • authorization process
    • Utilities must adopt a uniform format for authorization
  • data format
    • XML
    • other industry standard
  • types of data
    • interval data
    • demand
    • power quality
    • availability
    • voltage
    • frequency
    • current
    • power factor
    • or other information generated by a meter and collected by the utility in the course of business
    • pricing data
  • Method of delivery
    • machine to machine
    • web portal
    • Direct from the meter
    • Via mobile apps
  • Timeliness
    • within the minute if direct from the meter
    • Within the hour via the web
  • Data security
    • HTTPS
    • Other industry standards
  • Charges for data access
    • No charges for data access

This framework makes Illinois the first state to require utilities to adopt a data access standard, like Green Button, to ensure consumers have easy and timely access to their own data. Access to this information will help energy users find energy savings, and reduce the cost and hassle to do so where access to information is not regulated. Too many utility companies in too many jurisdictions treat customer’s data about their use as an afterthought at best – and it hampers energy conservations efforts, while also increasing costs to comply with benchmarking regulations and engage in better stakeholder reporting.

Congratulations to the State of Illinois for adopting this policy!

Energy Management Systems Continue Positive Upswing Wed, 02 Aug 2017 14:14:51 +0000 In its report released earlier this month, Edition Truth was painted quite the rosy picture of the future of energy management systems. “The global energy management system market is likely to exhibit steady growth in the coming years thanks to the rising awareness in the industrial sector about its contribution to global pollution levels” was the ultimate takeaway in its findings.
As cited in a previous article, Transparency Market Research estimates that the market has the potential to reach a value of upwards to $36 billion by the year 2024. Developed regions such as Europe and North America will continue to lead the way as recent government regulations, policies, and other incentives have led to an increase in EMS implementation over recent years. Recent political events within the United States may add some level of confusion as to exactly what role it plans to play as far as the future of renewables, but all signs coming out of Europe show an united region that has put forward a set of energy consumption and renewables goals which need to be achieved within a stipulated time
It should also be noted that emerging regions such as China, India, Brazil, an South Africa are expected to see a significant increase as well. These regions are continuing to further explore and adopt EMS that can be easily integrated with their establishment of new energy sources and power generation points to improve the overall production and consumption of energy. Considering the value that heavy energy consuming industries such as iron and steel play within these regions, the onus to reduce operational expenses and be as energy efficient as possible is vital.
No one reason is the sole driving factor of why the future of energy management systems looks this promising, but the combination of government, human awareness, environmental impact, and significant financial opportunities, appear to be quite the intoxicating cocktail.
Supermarket Leader Aldi Continues its Energy Efficiency Upgrades Mon, 31 Jul 2017 13:11:20 +0000 Earlier this year, Aldi announced a $1.6 billion investment in remodeling 1,300 US stores by 2020. One of the key components of this commitment was to improve energy efficiency within its facilities.
The German discount supermarket chain, which has seen its footprint expand within the states over the last few years is looking for any competitive edges against the likes of fellow German supermarket chain Lidi, which has been rolling out across the states as well as heavyweights such as Walmart, Whole Foods, and Target.
Aldi is looking to adapt store upgrades such as adding natural lighting, LED fixtures, using energy-saving refrigeration, and using more environmental friendly building materials. Aldi anticipates that these moves will go a long way in driving down operational costs and give it an advantage when compared with other stores.
In addition, Aldi is investing in solar production. The regional headquarters in California has 8,208 solar panels expected to power 60% of the warehouse’s utilities there and the California stores will have solar panels on any roof where it’s viable. As Aldi continues to expand across North America, it should be expected that it will continue with its pledge to energy efficiency and sustainable growth.
DOE Campaign to Improve Efficiency Wed, 19 Jul 2017 13:39:10 +0000 The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) has continued its work to increase energy savings and lower operating costs within federal facilities. Awarding over 21 contracts to energy management companies in recent years, the DOE has shown its commitment to meet energy efficiency goals.
Improvement projects ranging from LED lighting upgrades, chiller and boiler improvements. to installing control systems, the DOE has implemented a robust strategy to tackle the issue of energy inefficiencies within their facilities. The matter of army bases and additional federal locations committing to energy management upgrades has been previously reported. With these recently awarded contracts, it appears that the DOE is continuing to further expand on these measures.
Stressing the importance of these initiatives, Timothy Unruh, deputy assistant secretary of renewable power within the department’s energy efficiency office, told “The reality is there is a great need for improvements across the federal buildings. There’s $135 billion of needed building repairs, and about $7.7 billion in deferred building equipment maintenance, so there’s a lot to do and there’s really not the ability for Congress to appropriate all the money necessary. That’s where these public-private partnerships of an energy saving performance contract provide such a great benefit to the federal government.”
Unruh joins the long list of advocates who have championing the idea of greater energy savings performance contracts offered by both federal and local governments. As collaboration deepens between both the private sector and the government, the ultimate winners are the taxpayers who will be  saving money in the long run.
Denver Enacts $2,000 Fine to Owners Who Fail to Comply with Benchmarking Mandate Mon, 17 Jul 2017 13:32:52 +0000
Harrah’s Las Vegas Saves $310K Annually with Retro-commissioning Initiative Wed, 28 Jun 2017 13:02:26 +0000 Vice president of facilities, engineering and sustainability for Caesars Entertainment, Eric Dominguez recently spoke at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference and Energy Manager Summit. The highlight of his speech were the positive gains being made by the entertainment conglomerate in matters related to sustainability and plans for the future.
Of the 45 worldwide properties that Caesars Entertainment has within its portfolio, the focus centered around Harrah’s Las Vegas. By taking proactive steps and putting together a comprehensive agenda the Harrah’s Las Vegas was able to see significant savings in its utilities expenses. Most of the savings were a result of retrofitting the facility, but that all begins with planning and getting a better understanding of the facility. “Do an assessment as to how your properties stack up against one another,” Dominguez said.
Outlined in his strategy were a number of operational improvements such as; installing more than 100,000 new energy efficient lighting bulbs, which bring a projected annual energy cost savings of $1.2 million, replacing standard washers at laundry facility with tunnel washers, installing more than 16,000 low-flow showerheads, and adopting low-flow restroom fixtures such as faucets and urinals.
Of course none of these improvements can truly have a lasting impact if the company itself does not communicate and stress the importance of these new measures. From leadership down to the hotel guest, Caesars Entertainment has shown commitment in improving its sustainability and getting the word out.
Built in 1973, the Harrah’s was a prime target to undergo upgrades to improve efficiency, “We had old equipment,” said Dominguez. “Controls were 20 years old and chillers were 15 years old. We did some field investigation and interviews with our staff. We took trend data and looked at the current building automation system.”
Final numbers of note for the re-commissioning of the Harrah’s breakdown as;
Total cost of $1.125 million
Utility rebates of $110,343
Annual savings: 24 million kWh 113,000 therms $309,720 (2015 utility rates)
Simple payback on investment: 3.3 years
Given the significant utility expenses most properties on the Las Vegas strip are faced with, and the resounding success of Harrah’s investment, we can only anticipate other facilities following suit.