Worries about California’s recent energy crisis has prompted some businesses to partner with Colorado Springs Utilities to sidestep potential local problems.
CSU has been working with area businesses and residences since earlier this year with its Springs Energy Saver Program. The utility company has targeted the energy management needs of nearly 250 of its largest business customers and is developing a program to do on-site visits to recommend areas for energy conservation. Conservation measures might include the use of motion sensors to temporarily shut down computers when no one is in an office. Other efforts emphasize curtailing light usage in certain areas of a facility, such as hallway lights or overhead lights near windows.
CSU is working in conjunction with ENT Federal Union to provide a financing program for businesses that beef up energy conservation methods such as lighting retrofits or the installation of heat-shielding windows.
Pat Murphy, the building site manager at Oracle Corp., has seen the impact energy reduction has on a company’s bottom line. As a member of the voluntary conservation program, Oracle expects to save about $37,500 per year by implementing some basic energy-saving techniques.
Murphy estimated that during last week’s energy drop, when the Drake power plant lost one of its three units, Oracle saved between $136 and $200 a day by following four basic energy-cutting activities: reducing air conditioning output by five degrees; reducing non-essential lighting, such as shifting hallway lighting to security lighting; shutting down two of the building’s four elevators to reduce motor use; and adjusting the rooftop exhaust units to operate less frequently.
The Drake power plant had a ruptured tube in unit No. 7, which supplies about 140 megawatts per hour of energy, said Myers. Repairs to the ruptured tube, and 16 surrounding tubes which were replaced over a three-day period, cost CSU about $900,000. CSU also lost some power early Sunday because of problems at the Nixon power plant, which supplies about 200 megawatts of power per hour.
Murphy estimates that he saved about 100 kilowatts of energy per hour during the energy crunch and plans on continuing with some of the conservation techniques. The company, which sells e-business software packages that store database information, has one generator and is installing a second one. Murphy said he plans on switching to the generators during peak operating times for about a two-hour period.
“It just makes sense for us,” said Murphy. “When we buy power (from the grid), (we’re) not spending a dollar, (we’re) spending your tax rate.”
CSU officials appreciated the efforts made last week by customers such as Oracle.
“It’s comforting to see the response from the community,” said Lisa Myers, chief operating officer for Colorado Springs Utilities. “It was a true community effort.”
One megawatt of power, said Myers, can supply about 250 single-family homes with an hour’s worth of electricity. Murphy estimates that Oracle conserved between 25 and 35 megawatts of energy per hour during CSU’s problems.
About 40 percent of the cost of running Oracle’s 191,00-square-foot Springs facility is spent on utilities. Utility costs at the company’s New Hampshire facility gulp 60 percent of the operating budget. The difference, said Murphy, is that the Colorado Springs facility is pro-active in energy conservation.
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