Energy Contracts Help Sites Achieve Savings, Sustainability

July 10, 2015

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Typical mortgage loans allow borrowers to purchase a home without paying the full cost upfront. In a similar manner, energy savings performance contracts, or ESPCs, allow Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, to complete projects at Pantex and Y12 that improve energy efficiency and support infrastructure renewal and reliability without upfront capital.

During the past few years, the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office has partnered with two energy service companies on ESPCs at Pantex and Y12 as part of an enterprise-wide initiative to improve energy efficiency and revitalize site infrastructure.

Senior Director of Infrastructure and Projects Management Dan Glenn said, “The energy service company puts up the capital to do the work, and we pay them back through the energy savings gained over the term of the contract.”

At Pantex, an ESPC with Siemens Government Technologies Inc. has enabled the plant to harness the power of wind energy with the installation of five 2.3megawatt wind turbines capable of producing approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

During installation of the wind turbines, Infrastructure and Projects Management worked with Pantex Engineering to address a concern about possible voltage fluctuations affecting the plant’s sensitive equipment. The solution was to install a power quality meter to monitor the specific output of the wind farm. The 426foottall turbines can generate enough energy cost-savings to pay for the project and later provide additional cost savings directly to Pantex. In the month of May, the wind farm produced 4,022,647 kWh, which was 66% of the plant’s total energy consumption.

At Y12, the ESPC projects, managed by Johnson Controls, Inc., are having noticeable impact on the utility infrastructure, as well as the site’s energy efficiency.

“We wouldn’t have the budget to do this work at Y12 without an ESPC. More money becomes available because it is tied to energy savings. We try to leverage all funding opportunities to improve the infrastructure to make it more reliable and reduce the maintenance needs of the site,” Glenn said.

Currently, there are five main projects at different stages of progress, including the chiller plant upgrade, steam system decentralization, lighting upgrades, a new compressed air facility and steam system repairs. The upfront capital for these projects is funded by JCI; however, Y12 is responsible for support costs, including activities such as lock out/tag out, utility surveys and engineering drawing review.

Providing support funding and coordinating activities to lessen the impact to mission work and schedule are some of the challenges that come with ESPCs.

“These projects improve plant reliability, operational efficiency and infrastructure, and eliminate a significant amount of deferred maintenance. We invest our funds into the support costs for the ESPCs because we know of the bigger benefit to the site,” Glenn said.

“Improving energy efficiency and revitalizing the infrastructure is an enterprise-wide initiative, and we’ll continue to leverage ESPCs to help achieve our sustainability goal.”