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Demand-response programs offer maintenance and engineering managers opportunities to deliver energy efficiency and savings to their organizations. And as institutional and commercial facilities continue to search for bottom-line benefits, such incentive programs from utilities have become more popular.
Before making the decision to take part in a demand-response program, managers need to weigh a number of factors. Among them are the program's technology requirements, ensuring effective communication with the utility and within the facility, and monitoring the program to ensure the program delivers the intended benefits.
The East Meadow School District in Westbury, N.Y., has participated in a demand-response program since 2008, focusing its savings efforts mostly on corridor lighting, lighting in non-essential areas, and the air-conditioning system.
The situation is a win-win for the school district, which was asked to reduce its kilowatt (kW) use by 30,000 per megawatt (mW) per year, which breaks down to 20,000 mW in summer and 10 mW in the winter. If it hits those targets, the total annual benefit is more than $3,000. However, the school district does not incur any penalties if it does not meet its targets, which makes participation in the program more appealing.
Managers should not make the decision to take part in a demand-response program lightly, considering all the factors involved, such as downtime and the impact a demand-response event can have on occupants and staff.
Before the East Meadow school district opted to participate, director of operations Patrick Pizzo conducted research and made recommendations to district officials regarding the way the program would directly and tangibly affect building occupants. After doing the research, he took his findings to a committee that made the final decision. As he says, in a school setting, anything that is going to necessitate a change in the building's operation should be initially investigated in collaboration with occupants who will be affected.