Utility Update | City buildings get energy efficient upgrades

On Thursdays, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a graphic, map, news, or research about utilities here in Philadelphia.

Utility Update_2014-5-29

Look up! New LED lights are shining at City Hall.

Greenworks Philadelphia, the city’s sustainability plan, set an ambitious target of reducing the energy consumption of municipal buildings by 10% below 2006 levels by 2015. The City is on its way to meeting this target due in part to the Quadplex Guaranteed Energy Savings Project, an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Department of Public Property, and the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities. The project, enabled by the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Energy Savings Act (GESA), uses the savings from increased building energy efficiency to pay for retrofits and other upgrades.

The Quadplex GESA Project has been in the works since late 2008, when the City issued an RFQ to select an energy service company to assist with the initiative. In late 2009 the City selected the energy service company Noresco to complete an energy audit, develop energy conservation measures, and to manage their implementation. In 2011, City Council passed ordinances enabling the project, and in May 2012 the City issued bonds to fund the improvements. Improvements to four of the City’s biggest energy users, known collectively as the “Quadplex,” (City Hall, the Municipal Services Building, One Parkway, and the Criminal Justice Center) will be finished by this summer.

Many of the upgrades are invisible to building users. These include improvements to boilers, steam pipe insulation, and HVAC drives and filters. In addition, the City has adopted new building control systems. These systems include web-based software that allows city staff to remotely monitor and manage, in real-time, building HVAC systems. Increased capacity to control HVAC is particularly important because building heating and cooling account for between 50-60% of Quadplex building energy use.

Some of the Quadplex upgrades are more visible to building users, such as the installation of low-flow water fixtures. In addition, those who enter the Municipal Services Building from the underground concourse may have noticed newly sealed doors. Visitors to City Hall who look up while in main building entrance vestibules can now see new LED lighting (as shown in the picture above).

In addition to cost savings, there are significant operational benefits associated with upgrading to more energy efficient building features. For example, LED lights require replacement far less frequently than traditional fluorescent light bulbs.

The results of the Quadplex GESA Project after only one year are overwhelmingly positive. The City saved $1.34 million dollars in energy costs in the first year of the program. The City used around $990,000 of this to repay the costs of the retrofits, leaving an additional $350,000, some of which will be put aside for additional repairs. All bonds will be completely paid for in 15 years.

 

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Utility Update | Record cold leads to calls for electricity demand reduction

On Thursdays, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) posts a graphic, map, news, or research about utilities here in Philadelphia.

The frozen Schuykill last January, photo by Matt Blaze licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

The frozen Schuylkill River in January. Photo by Matt Blaze licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

What do freezing winter temperatures and sweltering summer heat have in common? (Besides being topics for commiseration in the grocery line.) Both lead to sudden peaks in electricity demand, which stress electric grid reliability and increase electricity prices.

A little while ago we posted about the efforts of city facilities to reduce peak electricity loads on two of the hottest days last summer. These facilities participate in an “emergency demand response” program sponsored by PJM, the electricity transmission organization that serves the Philadelphia area (and 13 states and the District of Columbia).

Last month, demand response became a winter program, too. PJM reports that eight of its ten highest winter electricity demand days occurred in January 2014.

The City of Philadelphia has 23 facilities engaged in PJM’s demand response program. By curtailing electricity use on high demand days, the City contributes to the reliability of the regional power grid, saves money on electricity bills, and even receives financial rewards from PJM.  Although participation in winter demand response is not required under PJM’s current program, several city buildings voluntarily reduced peak electricity loads on the 7th, 20th, and 27th of January.  One PWD facility reduced its peak load by 5.2 megawatts on the 7th—a significant drop.

The need for winter demand response arises because cold temperatures increase use of electric heating as well as of equipment that circulates warm air (e.g., heat pumps).  In addition, changing weather forecasts can necessitate demand response.  During the winter, power plants are commonly taken offline to undergo routine maintenance. It can take time for supply to ramp back up in response to unexpected spikes in demand, like those we saw last month due to prolonged blasts of arctic air.

Some Philadelphia residents also received demand response requests in January. On the coldest days, residential consumers can help regional grid reliability by reducing use of electric heaters (as health permits), postponing use of major appliances until the night, and by turning off lights, electronics, and appliances when not in use (always a good idea!).

For more information about PJM’s winter demand response efforts, check out this update. Read more about winter peak electricity loads from EnerNOC, one of the participating Curtailment Service Providers in PJMa company that assists Philadelphia with its demand response efforts here.

Utility Update | City Facilities Recognized for Participation in Demand Response

On Thursdays, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) will post a graphic, map, news, or research about Utilities here in Philadelphia.

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We all know that using less energy means lower bills, but did you know that by using less electricity during the warmest days of the year the City of Philadelphia can earn money? On December 3, Mayor Nutter and members of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability recognized 11 city facilities for their efforts to reduce electricity demand last summer, which together earned the City of Philadelphia $413,000.

On hot summer days, intensive use of air conditioning leads to spikes in electricity demand. For example, during summer months, Philadelphia’s municipal buildings demand roughly double the electricity they do in the winter. High demand for electricity across a region increases risk for brownouts (temporary voltage dips) and blackouts (power outages). As a result, electricity transmission organizations offer financial incentives for large commercial and institutional users to adopt “demand response” measures during the hottest days. Reductions in peak electricity load allow providers to avoid tapping into more expensive and less efficient means of electrical generation while also protecting against outages.

This summer the City of Philadelphia had two chances (July 18 and September 11) to earn money because of a strained electric grid. On those two days, 19 of the City’s facilities reduced electricity demand by turning off building air conditioning, shutting off escalators and working with building occupants to reduce individual consumption. These activities took place for several hours on both days.

At last week’s event, the City recognized the following facilities:

  • Philadelphia Water Department Southwest Water Pollution Control Plant, for achieving the largest absolute drop in load of any City facility enrolled in the region’s demand response program this year.
  • PWD’s Northeast Water Pollution Control Plant, for achieving the second largest absolute drop in load of any City facility enrolled in the region’s demand program this year.
  • PWD’s Queen Lane Pumping Station, for achieving the third largest absolute drop in load of any City facility enrolled in the region’s demand response program this year.
  • City Hall, for achieving the largest absolute drop in load of any facility enrolled in the region’s demand response program this year within the General Fund or Aviation Fund .
  • Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, for achieving the second largest absolute drop in load of any facility enrolled in the region’s demand response program this year within the General Fund or Aviation Fund, and for achieving the City’s third highest percent reduction compared to the facility’s total load.
  • Free Library of Philadelphia Central Library: For achieving the third largest absolute drop in load of any facility enrolled in the region’s demand response program this year within the General Fund or Aviation Fund.
  • Family Court: For achieving the City’s highest percent reduction compared to the facility’s total load.
  • Criminal Justice Center: For achieving the City’s second highest percent reduction compared to the facility’s total load.
  • Municipal Services Building, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Detention Center, for outstanding continued participation in peak load reduction. Since 2010, these facilities have steadily reduced their peak demand numbers on high demand days.
Mayor Nutter with (L-R) Mardi Ditze (MOTU), Kristin Sullivan (MOTU), Rich Reinert (Art Museum) and Adam Agalloco (MOS) at the December 3 PJM Demand Response Recognition Event. Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photograph by Mitchell Leff.

Mayor Nutter with (L-R) Mardi Ditze (MOTU), Kristin Sullivan (MOTU), Rich Reinert (Art Museum) and Adam Agalloco (MOS) at the December 3 PJM Demand Response Recognition Event. Copyright City of Philadelphia. Photograph by Mitchell Leff.

Utility Update | Top 5 Largest Solar Energy Projects in Philly

Every Thursday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) will post a graphic, map, news, or research about Utilities here in Philadelphia.

Last week we mapped known solar projects here in Philly, taken from the Philadelphia City Maps Portal  (you can check out the interactive map here), and this week we are showing the largest know solar projects here in Philly!  The data from the map is based on self-reported solar projects from various developers, distributors, etc.

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Utility Update | Solar Energy Projects in Philadelphia

Every Thursday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) will post a graphic, map, news, or research about Utilities here in Philadelphia.

This week we took the data from the Philadelphia City Maps Portal about known solar energy projects here in Philadelphia (you can check out the interactive map here) and made the graphic below!  The data from the map is based on self-reported solar projects from various developers, distributors, etc.  Next week we will take a closer look at the top 5 largest solar energy projects here in Philly.

Solar Projects (stage) [Converted]-01

 

Do you know of a solar energy project that isn’t shown on the map or on the City Maps Portal?  If so, tell us about it!  Please email the below project details to Mardi Ditze at Mardi.Ditze@phila.gov :

  • Developer
  • Year built
  • Size in kW or MW
  • Address
  • Project name, if any
  • Notes about the project, if any
  • Image of project

Utility Update — How much Green Energy does the Philadelphia City Government buy compared with other major US city governments?

Every Thursday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) will post a graphic, map, news, or research about Utilities here in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia City Government buys approximately 127 million kWh of green energy renewable energy credits, approximately 20% of all of the electricity purchased.  How does Philly rank in comparison with the other major US city governments?

Green Energy Buying 2-01

You can find out more about local government partners in green energy buying on the US EPA’s website here!

[NEW WEEKLY FEATURE] Utility Update — Green Energy Buying

Every Thursday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities (MOTU) will post a graphic, map, news, or research about Utilities here in Philadelphia.

In order to keep everyone up to date on what the utilities side of MOTU is up to, we have decided to start a weekly segment featuring a graphic, map, news or research about utilities here in Philadelphia!

For the first Utility Update segment, we took a look at green energy buying here in Philly.  The City of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in 2009 published the Greenworks Plan which is a plan of how to reach Mayor Nutter’s goal of having Philadelphia “become the greenest city in America.”  One of the goals that this plan has outlined is for Philadelphians to buy or generate 20% of our energy from renewable sources by the end of 2015.  As you can see in the graphic below, we are well on our way to achieving this goal —

ENERGY RENEWABLE GOALS-01

The above graphic displays the percentage of total energy that is bought or generated from renewable sources.  This energy is broken out into four categories.  One of the categories is that of voluntary renewable energy certificates — this is the category the displays the energy that was voluntarily bought from renewable sources.  Another category is that of on site generation.  This is the percentage of energy used that came from generating the energy on the building’s site from a renewable source.  A third category shown is that of alternative energy portfolio standard mandate.  The state of Pennsylvania has committed to requiring 21% of its energy be bought from a renewable sources by 2021 (more info here), and this category outlines that increasing state mandate.  Finally, the last category is that of the City of Philadelphia.  Because the City has set a goal for all Philadelphians to buy or generate 20% of their energy from renewable sources, the City has taken a lead in buying approximately 20% of its energy from renewable sources.

The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability has just published its 2013 Greenworks Progress Report, check it out here!

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