When you think of the new age of energy, the typical images that come to mind are spinning wind turbines and fields of solar panels. While those are integral pieces to the ever complex puzzle of the energy portfolio, they are not the only elements that will be driving the future of the energy sector.
Our nation has made significant investments in our complex energy infrastructure and it is in our collective best interest to maintain and use the existing assets in order to reach a fair return on investment. For example, billions of dollars have been invested in coal power plants in the last 20 years; these plants are cleaner and more efficient than prior coal plants from the last century. These investments need to be protected and utilized for their anticipated lifespans or until their economic viability reaches an unsustainable level.
Of nearly 1,300 coal fired electricity generating units at 560 power plants across the country, the oldest units in the fleet are the ones that can be extreme emission producers. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) addresses the oldest plants in the fleet through a decommission process and holds new generating units accountable for certain new technologies and advancements, such as the use of carbon sequestration technology. Although the Supreme Court’s made the temporary decision at the beginning of February to wait on implementing the Clean Power Plan, utilities and energy companies are aware that Greenhouse Gas emission reduction enforcement is coming soon.
This is creating a reaction throughout the energy sector and bringing about a wave of new opportunities to advance supply side energy production and efficiency solutions on the demand side. Essentially, this will give more choice to the consumer for control over their own energy portfolio. On the road to more consumer control of energy, many hospitals, manufacturers, data centers, and other significant power users are taking their needs for hot water and electricity and converting their facilities or buildings to be run on combined heat and power systems or CHP’s. Other common energy investments include lighting retrofits, lighting control, micro grid systems, building management systems, distributed generation, and energy storage. That brings us to the question: Where does Miller Electric Company fit into the energy equation?
Miller Electric Company’s Energy Solutions Group is working to protect current investments, explore new technologies, and advance the communication and connectivity within the overall energy system. We are exploring technologies and developing capabilities to bring turn-key energy solutions to our clients on both the supply and demand sides of the energy equation.
While we have been working in various sectors of the energy space for many years, the rate of change in energy solutions is accelerating rapidly. For example, lighting retrofits are becoming more than just a remove/replace operation. With advancements in lighting technology such as those mentioned in the last issue of Connectivity, the ability to use light fixtures for monitoring and data collection allows companies to do anything from analyze foot traffic flow in retail, to energy system control for office spaces.
In larger scale energy production, CHP systems are becoming commonplace for customers who have a mutual need for electricity and hot water such as meeting the large cooling and heating needs of hospitals. Since these CHP units typically run on natural gas, the current price and cleaner burn of natural gas is providing cost savings to the customer over standard utility prices. We are currently working with clients to take these CHP applications and integrate automated control systems into the overall energy management mix to further drive the ROI for their energy investments.
Automation Systems open a world of endless possibilities for solutions that can be applied to a building or energy system. Lighting and HVAC for college classrooms can be controlled through integration with course schedules. Wind farms can be controlled by prevailing wind directions. Heating and cooling needs to individual offices can be controlled through multi-channel intelligent operation systems. Micro-grids can be established to create levelized power supply to multiple locations. The optimization opportunities that automation provides are endless and will bring the current industrial revolution to our doorstep.
Not only are we providing the installation, maintenance, and monitoring of your energy investment, we are also offering turn-key financing and performance guarantees that will allow you to achieve the highest possible ROI. Through financing options such as the Property Assessed Clean Energy program (PACE), which provides effective means to finance energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to buildings1 and NECA’s Energy Conservation and Performance Platform (E-CAP) that provides flexible financing and investment grade performance guarantees; the customer can reap the rewards of a cleaner more efficient energy system, increasing their overall company value with little or no capital outlay.
Our Energy Solutions Group is continuously developing new applications to deliver value to clients. Whether it is reducing demand through lighting retrofits and building automation systems, or delivering a comprehensive micro-grid solution complete with natural gas, renewables, and battery storage, we are making the investments to be a leading resource for our clients’ energy infrastructure.