In recent blogs, we’ve been looking at ways your utility bill data can save you money.
Today we’ll see how the State of Maryland responded to a legislative energy mandate that had a very specific savings goal of 15 percent. How did they pursue that vision? We’ll discover that data transparency and availability can translate into savings.
One challenge that faces many organizations, especially public organizations, is that without easy access to energy data, there is little or no accountability for energy spending.
We can understand with any large organization that employees are coming in and adjusting thermostats during off-peak hours, and opening windows in winter (or summer), and doing many other things that can cause energy managers to start pulling their hair out.
Too often, the attitude is that energy is simply a fixed, inevitable cost–this is a dangerous myth from an energy management perspective.
So how can you hold organizational members and stakeholders accountable? One answer: make utility bill data transparent and ubiquitous.
The State of Maryland made a decision to expose their energy data to the public. They actually post their EnergyCAP utility data on their Department of General Services website. And it is fairly granular data. You can find the trend data for the city’s community colleges and see what each campus, and each building on that campus, is using year-to-year, and month-to-month graphs because they grant public access to the monthly utility bill data. You can look at state police barracks, county by county. This kind of visibility helps keep everyone accountable.
The state of Maryland began implementing the Empower Maryland Energy Efficiency Act in 2008. Signed by Governor Martin O’Malley, it was a statewide progressive call to action on climate change and energy efficiency. They set a statewide goal for a 15 percent reduction in electricity use by this year, 2015. And although they were placing the burden of compliance on the shoulders of the electric utilities, the state government committed itself to internal energy measurement and monitoring to attain that goal.
So each agency through the state of Maryland is now tasked or has been tasked since 2008 to reduce electric use and demand by 15 percent from the 2008 baseline period. This meant that each agency had to get the data necessary to evaluate progress toward achieving the energy reduction goal, and then the agencies had to devise ways to incentivize energy stakeholders to develop and implement the necessary programs and processes to increase energy awareness and, ultimately, generate savings.
One thing that Maryland is doing is an interagency energy competition. Every year, the Maryland Energy Cup is awarded to the state energy that has been the most effective in meeting the government’s energy reduction goals.
Will they make their goal? Judging by competition results, some of the State agencies already have, and more.
The jury is still out on exactly what Maryland will save by year’s end. But as far back as December, 2013, twenty-one Energy Performance Contracts (EPCs) were saving $21.3 million annually with estimated total savings of $310 million throughout the life of the contracts.
EnergyCAP provides convenient access to the summary and granular data necessary to secure the most competitive bidsfor utilities and render cost-saving purchasing decisions. The software helped Maryland’s Department of General Services to document Fiscal Year 2013 taxpayer savings of $9.6 million for block and index electricity purchases, vs. a fixed price rate. For natural gas, block and index purchases yielded $7.1 million savings over a fixed rate.
How much could you save by increasing the transparency and availability of your utility data?