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Green Charge Networks: Beachfront Property Uses Intelligent Energy Storage to Curb Power Costs
Aug. 21, 2015 — Opened in 2011 as a replacement for two aging beachfront properties, the 164-room LEED Gold-certified Shore Hotel has beautified the Santa Monica, Calif., beachfront and bolstered the city’s reputation for sustainability.
Built from locally sourced materials, with a solar-heated pool, native landscaping, maximum natural light sources, and many more environmental features, Shore Hotel is a big draw for eco-savvy leisure and business travelers from more than 150 countries, as well as Santa Monicans on a “staycation.”
More than a motto, sustainability is a principle that Shore Hotel Vice President Jon Farzam and his team continue to apply in all their interactions, not only with hotel guests, but also with employees and city residents. Recently, recognizing the increasing prevalence of electric vehicles on the city’s streets, Shore Hotel has installed a Fast DC charging station in the hotel’s parking garage, even allowing EV owners to park free during their 30-minute charging period.
“Sustainability is one of the three pillars of our mission statement,” Farzam said. “Just as we have programs to incentivize our employees — such as full reimbursement of carpooling or public transportation costs — we want the public to know that when they come down here, they can charge their electric cars up to a full charge in just 30 minutes without a parking fee.”
Providing EV charging is the right thing to do for the community — and it’s good for business. The cost of kilowatts used is negligible, especially compared to the goodwill it generates. Yet, like a riptide looming off Santa Monica’s shore, there is a hidden cost of this generosity: the electricity demand charge. This is a surcharge that commercial energy users pay based on the highest 15 minutes of electricity usage each month.
EV charging is a sporadic, high-usage activity that creates a spike of demand on the grid, triggering a demand charge. Even a couple of EV charges per month can result in a surprisingly high addition to the hotel’s energy bill. Some estimates put the average demand charge for a commercial building at between 30 and 70 percent of the total electricity cost.
When he started discussing the EV charging project with the local utility company, Shore Hotel’s Director of Operations Kevin Cunanan learned just how high that extra cost might be. Fortunately, he and his team found a way to mitigate the effects of those spikes by linking their selected EV charging station to an energy storage solution from Green Charge Networks.
Green Charge Networks was able to show how its energy storage solution could identify the EV charging draw and immediately discharge enough power to avoid a demand charge-inducing spike.
Cunanan recognized this as a good sign. “Green Charge Networks was very organized,” he said. “They walked us through what they were going to do, mapped out what resources it would entail, explained how they were going to work with the City to get funding for the EV charging project, and even forecast what our savings would be. That’s what the other vendors couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do.”
Based on the hotel’s usage history, Green Charge Networks projected that Shore Hotel would reduce its demand costs by as much as 35 percent. There was no charge to install or maintain the energy storage system. “Other vendors wanted to split the installation cost with us,” Cunanan said. “Green Charge made this energy storage decision easy.”
Through a partnership with NRG eVgo, Green Charge installed a Fast DC charger in a designated space in the hotel’s parking garage, adjacent to a 60 kWh-capacity Green Charge lithium-ion-based energy storage system. At the heart of the system is a smart controller with sophisticated software that monitors facility loads on a second-by-second basis and automatically discharges or charges the storage system as needed to flatten the power load curve.
Green Charge monitors the system over the dedicated network, and reports on the savings in demand charges, which it shares with Shore Hotel.
Cunanan said the hotel is looking to install additional EV charging stations through new locally funded programs. As a sustainability leader, Shore Hotel will be first in line for these programs, which is good news, since the interest in Shore Hotel’s Fast charging station is heating up. And as Southern California’s hot summer days have Shore Hotel guests turning down their thermostats, the Green Charge energy storage system will help the hotel’s operations team keep its cool.