Why strategic energy management is critical to utility success

Why strategic energy management is critical to utility success

While utilities are evolving to meet the demands of increasing regulatory requirements for energy savings, there are also increasing opportunities with demand response and renewables, distributed generation and a new, sophisticated customer base. Faced with the task of improving codes and meeting aggressive energy savings targets, utilities are moving beyond straightforward contractor-based retrofits and rebate programs that were once considered the norm.

Conversely, utilities commercial and industrial customers are searching for ways to improve profit margins, incorporate sustainability into their daily operations, and manage regulatory risk. Businesses have more choices than ever before, and utilities are under increased pressure to help them make sense of their complicated energy needs while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

In order to reach these commercial and industrial customers, a new approach is needed: one that combines energy efficiency, behavioral changes and integrated demand side management to holistically and continuously examine and manage a customers energy usage in pursuit of deeper, long-term savings. The solution is the Five Keystone Approach to strategic energy management.

Defining Strategic energy management

Strategic energy management (SEM) employs a comprehensive approach to managing energy use. It aims to continuously improve energy performance and sustain energy and cost savings over the long term. While there are different variances in SEM programs, they all focus on business practice change shifting how organizations get things done, improving their capacity for reducing energy waste, and reducing energy intensity throughout the entire organization. When fully implemented, the strategic energy management program provides many benefits, including:

  • Persistent behavioral and operational change through enabling plant managers and staff to use energy efficiently

  • Providing structure to develop an ongoing pipeline of retrofits

  • Creating a framework for managing investments in efficiency, distributed generation, demand response and renewables

While the industry may agree on a standard definition of strategic energy management, not all SEM programs are created equal nor do they achieve the same results. In order to truly succeed and provide benefits for both the utility and the customer, the SEM program must support long-term program success and persistent energy reductions.

A New Approach

Energy management programs typically follow a traditional plan, implement, evaluate and modify cycle, but they can vary greatly ranging from formal and informal, simple to complex. On one end, some organizations take a less-structured approach to incorporating energy saving practices into their operational and purchasing decisions. At the other end, they aim to reach the industry ISO 50001 standard, which requires organizational policies, processes, measurement tools and project management to continually improve energy management.

The Five Keystone Approach is unique from traditional SEM programs because it enables a structured but personalized approach to managing energy within a business that is critical to long-term success.

Although the Five Keystone Approach to strategic energy management incorporates elements of the ISO 50001, it differs in a few critical ways. First, it focuses on results while limiting paperwork that can deter participants in utility programs. Second, the Five Keystone Approach engages existing business structures, language, processes and culture, which lead to higher adoption of the organizational and behavioral changes that drive energy savings.

Source: SmartGridNews.com

Smart Grid Bulletin May 2018

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22 June 2018