How To Make a Strong Energy Portfolio

By Mike Eckenroth

Imagine you’re the Vice President of Operations for a national property management company. You have 10 property managers reporting to you, each managing 3-5 properties.

As the company acquires buildings, energy decisions are left to the individual property managers. You receive their energy usage and spend reports annually, but you don’t have much insight into each manager’s energy strategy. And you definitely don’t have time to look over them all yourself.

How do you know if their strategies are maximizing savings and achieving the company’s energy goals?

Consolidate your energy portfolio.

Think about it – if you were the property manager described above, you’d have upwards of 50 reports coming to you every year about energy.

That’s a lot for you to handle.

Instead of managing all of that yourself, have a knowledgeable energy advisor take care of all the accounts for you.

Consolidating the management of your energy portfolio provides you with 3 major benefits:

1) Lower rates due to your portfolio size

Suppliers would like to have all of the properties within your portfolio as customers. If a supplier knows that a property is part of the portfolio, they will provide more competitive pricing than they would have given if the account was priced individually.

Working with an energy advisor also provides you with better rates compared to traditional brokers. Energy advisors can leverage relationships with their supply partners, giving you lower energy rates and expedited customer service.

2) Less stress for you and your facility managers 

The level of energy industry knowledge varies among property managers. This puts your company at risk for missed buying opportunities, lost savings, compliance issues, and strategy inconsistencies.

Having your energy portfolio handled by an energy expert takes these burdens off your shoulders. It also frees up the property managers to focus on providing the best level of service for your tenants or owners.

Your energy advisor can present you with a custom strategy that matches your organization’s energy goals.

Your options could include:

  • Buying groups
  • Geographical aggregation
  • Individual procurement

Each of these methods could potentially provide value for your organization, making energy easy so that you and your managers can be successful.

3) Access to macro-level reporting and tracking software

Keeping track of the energy data for all your properties is time consuming and can get messy very quickly.

When you consolidate your energy accounts into a portfolio, you have access to energy tracking software that isn’t available to individual locations. This software allows you to clearly view the expenses for each property and generates charts and graphs that are not only easy to understand but also provide actionable energy data.

With the insight this data provides, your energy advisor can help you identify areas for continuous improvement and prioritize possible efficiency opportunities, allowing you to achieve your energy goals.

Is consolidation right for you? 

Managing energy for multiple properties is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. The benefits that come from consolidating an energy portfolio makes it a logical option for both statewide and national companies.

Working with Nania Energy Advisors can help you develop a consolidation strategy that meets your company’s energy goals.

  • We currently manage over half a billion dollars in energy spend for our customers, and we use our size as leverage for better rates.
  • Our experienced Client Services team provides our customers with unparalleled service.
  • We have experience advising multi-state customers on their energy decisions, giving you the peace of mind that your energy strategy is in capable hands.

Call me to discover your consolidation options and discuss the first steps in optimizing your energy portfolio.

About The Author

Mike is an energy professional based out of Baltimore, Maryland with a strong engineering Strategic Energy Advisors Mike Eckenrothand purchasing background. His specialties include energy efficiency and strategic commodity procurement. Growing up in the shadow of Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Mike has an intimate stake in a grid with safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy generation – which he leverages into an energy strategy that provides security for his clients.

You can reach Mike via email at meckenroth@naniaenergy.com or phone at 443-833-8224.

Energy Audits and the Road to Energy Efficiency

By Calvin Cornish

Uncovering Energy Efficiency Opportunities

Energy efficiency is a hot topic in energy discussions, especially with the current incentives and rebates offered by electric and natural gas utilities. Because energy is a top 3 spend for many facilities and about 30% of energy in commercial buildings goes to waste, it’s not surprising that facility and property managers want to take on an efficiency project to reduce their costs. However, with everyone talking about efficiency and the amount of information available, it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re considering implementing an efficiency project.

The first step in tackling an energy efficiency project is to perform an energy audit. An energy audit identifies how energy is being used in a facility and identifies cost reduction opportunities. Here, we spell out what’s included in each audit level, as well as the utility incentives and rebates available to help cover the cost of the audit.

Energy Audit Levels

All audit levels require a Preliminary Energy Use Analysis. During this analysis, a site visit is necessary to assess the building’s equipment and gather utility bill data. It also includes benchmarking to see how the building’s usage compares to those similar to it in the region.

There are three different levels of audits, each more detailed and involved than the next. The appropriate audit level for your building depends on your building’s needs.

Level 1: Walk-Through Analysis

The most basic audit level available to customers is the Walk-Through Analysis. During this 2-hour process, the auditor identifies major areas of energy efficiency improvements and outlines low- to no-cost measures that you can take immediately. They’ll also highlight potential improvements to capital equipment as well as quick cost and payback period estimates.

A Level 1 audit can show savings in both electricity and natural gas and is typically free for customers. This level of analysis is best for facility and property managers who want to know which efficiency projects are available for their property and want to identify which energy efficiency project should be their first priority.

Level 2: Energy Survey & Analysis

This level of audit includes the information from the Walk-Through Analysis but provides a more detailed examination of energy efficiency improvements. Because of this, a Level 2 audit can take 2-3 days to complete. Due to the amount of time and level of detail required, you should expect to pay between $5,000 and $15,000 depending on the size of the facility and whether you have the audit done for all systems. To reduce costs, larger buildings may consider doing this level of audit for just one system, such as HVAC or domestic water. At the conclusion of the Energy Survey, you will receive an energy usage breakdown as well as savings and cost analyses of all the recommended efficiency measures. The audit also uncovers capital-intensive projects that require a Level 3 audit.

Level 2 audits provide enough detail to implement an energy efficiency project. Customers who are financially prepared to execute their top-priority efficiency project and are looking for a detailed cost breakdown of the project would benefit most from this analysis.

Level 3: Analysis of Capital Intensive Projects

A technical analysis audit is the most detailed audit of the three. It expands on and includes the information gathered in a Level 2 audit. It requires more detailed field data and engineering analyses and uses actual utility data as a baseline for estimating operating costs of a new project. It also examines the situations that impact a building’s load profile and monitors system operating characteristics.

A Level 3 audit can take weeks to complete due to the amount of data required and is best for customers looking to do a large-scale, capital intensive project.

Incentives & Rebates

One of the aspects of an energy efficiency project that causes managers to hesitate is the cost of the project. Detailed energy audits can cost between $0.12 and $0.50 per square foot, depending on the size of your building. Factor in equipment and labor costs, and the entire audit can come with a rather hefty price tag. However, electric and natural gas utilities in Illinois are currently offering incentives and rebates that can help you fund your energy efficiency project.

ComEd’s incentives can help you pay for audit costs as well as other electricity efficiency projects.

  • Its retro-commissioning programs offers performance-based incentives up to $10,000 to uncover some of your basic needs. These incentives can increase to over $25,000 if you are willing to commit to implementing some of the solutions.
  • ComEd’s “Made in IL” incentive bonus gives customers a 10% incentive bonus for installing products that were manufactured or assembled in Illinois.
  • It also offers incentives for upgrading light fixtures and water cooled chillers, as well as for the installation of sensors and variable speed drives.

Nicor Gas and Peoples Gas offer rebates on steam traps, pipes, valve and fitting insulation, boiler reset controls, and demand-controlled ventilation. These rebates can range between $25 and $7,500. Customer rebates are available.

Start developing your energy efficiency strategy.

Energy efficiency projects are an excellent way to reduce your long-term electric, natural gas, and water costs. Regardless of your efficiency experience, sitting down with your Energy Advisor is the best way to start planning your energy efficiency strategy. We’ll help you decide on the right type of analysis for your facility’s needs, make the most of available utility-backed funding opportunities, and appropriately budget for future improvements as part of an overall plan to control usage and costs.


About The Author

Strategic Energy Advisors Calvin Cornish

Calvin has served as a Senior Energy Strategy Advisor at Nania Energy Advisors since 2010. He specializes in preparing property management boards to make informed decisions on energy efficiency through proper industry education. His clients include apartment complexes, condominium associations and senior living facilities. In his free time, Calvin enjoys music and coaching youth sports.

Calvin can be reached via email at ccornish@naniaenergy.com or phone at 630-225-4554.

Doing the Work For You with Municipal Electric Aggregation

By Becky Thompson

June 11, 2018 – Energy aggregation can mean big savings for Illinois residents.

Residential electricity aggregation first emerged in Illinois in 2012-2013 when over 750 communities passed referendums to allow cities to buy electricity for residents. But several years later, deflated utility prices led many communities to return to utility supply.

Fast forward to 2018. Aggregation is once again a viable option with ComEd’s new blended Price To Compare (PTC) climbing from 7.2 cents/kWh to 7.7 cents/kWh (an 8.5% jump). Beginning June 2018, municipal aggregation programs are estimated to save residents 5-10% on their electric costs, averaging $75 annually per household.

Electric aggregation programs will once again provide measured savings to Illinois taxpayers. While you may have been part of a buying group or gone to market with a broker in the past, you can take the fullest advantage of this opportunity by partnering with a Strategic Energy Advisor.

A Strategic Energy Advisor will save you time & money.

When it comes to aggregation, think of Strategic Energy Advisors like an educated proxy. We will vet multiple options with credible supply partners for you. We’ll determine the best opportunity for savings for you. When it’s all said and done, we present those options to you in an easy-to-understand format such as this formal Solutions Summary.

Advisors are your individual point of contact.

Aggregation becomes even simpler when you only have one point of contact in us collecting and summarizing all you need to know. We attend the board meetings and go to market on your behalf. We drive the process from start to finish and are ready to answer your questions at any point.

Advisors demonstrate measurable results.

What really sets Strategic Energy Advisors apart from other energy brokers is that our responsibility to you continues after the transaction is complete. We report back to you with regular market updates and personalized reporting that show just how much you saved.

The best part about working with a Strategic Energy Advisor through your aggregation process? If your voters have already passed an aggregation referendum, you don’t need to pass it again (provided it was never rescinded). We’re ready to review your case and give you options right away.

Contact your Strategic Energy Advisor to discuss aggregation in Illinois.

Like all energy buying, electric aggregation programs require thoughtful planning and a partnership with an advisor who has your community’s best interests at heart. Nania Energy Advisors will walk you through the process step-by-step and do the heavy lifting for you. We’re all about making energy easy, and municipal aggregation programs are no exception. Give me a call and let’s get started.

 

About The Author

Becky is a Strategic Energy Advisor specializing in the public sector, including schools and municipalities. She has been in the energy industry for over five years, working from the ground up as an account manager and then as an electric pricing team lead. Her background knowledge of the inner workings of an energy company helps identify actionable strategies for making her clients’ energy strategies both easy and cost effective. In her free time, Becky enjoys any activity that requires being outside and making her son belly laugh.

Becky can be reached via email at bthompson@naniaenergy.com or via phone at 630-225-4561.

5 Things You’ll Need to Take Your Illinois Business Solar

By Michael DeCaluwe

May 14, 2018 – Solar energy initiatives have been in the news a lot lately – from requirements to install solar on new homes in California to community solar projects in the Midwest.

Illinois is poised to become a leader in new solar power. There are excellent new economic incentives to install solar at your facility that can lower your electricity costs for the next 20 years.

ComEd and Ameren agreed to create a fund to incentivize building over 3000 MWs of solar and 1000 MWs of wind power in the state as part of the bailout of Exelon’s nuclear fleet by the State of Illinois in 2016. These incentives take the form of rebates. Combined with federal tax credits, most rooftop solar projects in Illinois now have an estimated payback period of 5 years or under.

The lifespan of most solar units is 20-25 years. This means that after the initial payoff period of 4-5 years, customers would essentially be getting “free” power for years 5-25 of the system. This can amount to millions of dollars to some customers (depending on the unit’s size).

Not all sites are good candidates for rooftop solar units. Here are parameters to help you decide if your site is a good fit.

Illinois Solar Program Guidelines

  1. A Newer Roof. You’ll ideally need a roof that has 20-25 years left on its life rating. You don’t want to incur the expense of disassembly and re-installation of the solar array if you need to replace your roof in the next 20 years.
  2. A Large Energy Bill. You need to spend over $130,000 a year on electricity to make solar economical for you.
  3. A Large Roof with Unobstructed Views. A medium-height building (under 5 stories) and large rooftop footprint are also important. Solar panels will be facing south with a 10-degree tilt, so you’ll need a clear view facing that direction.
  4. An Owned (NOT Rented) Facility. Since the array will sit on the roof, the client should ideally own the roof space and expect to occupy it for the next 20 years.
  5. A Federal Tax Liability. Many of the solar incentives come in the form of federal tax credits and accelerated depreciation rules (IRS Code). You’ll need a federal tax liability to offset.

Other Important Things to Know about the Illinois Solar Program

  • The Illinois state solar incentives are provided on a sliding-scale. Companies that enroll in the program first will get the most incentives.
  • There is only a set number of MWs that ComEd and Ameren are funding as part of this program. Once these MWs are used up, the program ends.

If you are at all interested in how much money a solar unit would save your company in energy expenses, call our office now. We will walk you through the process, provide an on-site review of your facility to determine the feasibility of installing a solar unit, and provide an informative proposal that will walk you through the numbers.

This is a big opportunity for businesses in Illinois to reduce expenses and increase your competitiveness. If you fit the parameters outlined in this article, call to see how solar can benefit you.


About The Author

Michael has served as the VP of Commercial & Industrial Sales at Nania Energy Advisors since 2007. He believes that listening to and understanding clients’ energy needs is vital to becoming a thought leader in the industry and forming a mutually beneficial business relationship. In his spare time, Michael enjoys being a dad, staying active and playing basketball.

Michael can be reached via email at mdecaluwe@naniaenergy.com or via phone at 630-225-4552.

Your Easy Guide to Selecting the Right Commercial Energy Product

By Sarah Rousseau

April 23, 2018 – So many options. So many details. So many “what-ifs…”. What does it all mean?

There is no disputing that energy procurement is extremely complex. The process takes a lot of time (something that, let’s face it, you don’t always have in great supply). It requires evaluating several factors between your business needs and the energy market. One of the most important to consider is product selection.

My clients tell me all the time that when it comes to picking the right product, they simply don’t understand their options. They have a solid grasp of their own business challenges, but it’s difficult to determine what product is right for their business with those challenges in mind.

Strategic Energy Advisors empower clients to make these decisions by bringing all that complexity down to an easy-to-understand level. Whether it be electric or gas, product selection comes down to understanding your needs, knowing your risks, being informed and taking advantage of your opportunities – not only when buying, but after the transaction is over.

Understanding your Energy Needs.

Allowing your Strategic Energy Advisor to perform a needs analysis will uncover your must-haves and help you define your risk tolerance (what you can or cannot afford to lose). Answering a few simple questions in the beginning phase of energy purchasing can really make a difference and will help position you to select the perfect energy product.

Knowing your Risk Tolerance.

Energy markets will experience volatility, which is normal and healthy. My job is to help you navigate those periods of uncertainty with the security of the perfect product. After performing a needs analysis, I use the risk tolerance spectrum below to help clients identify their organization’s place on the spectrum and their complementary product options.

 

Commercial energy products risk tolerance spectrum.

Being Informed of your Energy Product Options.

Understanding how energy products align with your organization’s risk tolerance is essential before making a decision. Envision your organization in the description of each product and see if the benefits cover your needs.

Fully-Fixed Energy Products.

Fully-fixed solutions are designed for customers that have little to no tolerance for market risk. These low maintenance options are a good fit for those who need to know their costs upfront and like the peace of mind that those costs will not change during the term of their agreement. That certainty allows businesses to make other long-term decisions without worrying about unexpected increases in energy costs. It’s a straightforward option with no surprises.

Benefits of Fully-Fixed Energy Products

  • Budget certainty
  • Peace of mind
  • Easy
  • Protection from market volatility = high

Managed Energy Products.

Managed solutions are designed for clients with a slightly more moderate tolerance for market risk. With the help of a Strategic Energy Advisor, a client will develop a plan for making fixed purchases throughout the term of an agreement that is in line with their goals. Outlining timing, triggers, and percentage locks are some of the ways to remove the guesswork and make a managed solution successful without regular maintenance.

Benefits of Managed Energy Products

  • Flexibility to take advantage of market opportunities
  • Clearly defined purchasing strategy
  • Protection from market volatility = moderate
  • Balanced buying approach

Layered Energy Products.

Layered solutions are designed for clients with a moderate risk tolerance. With these solutions a portion of the clients’ energy load is on an indexed or variable rate. The client and their advisor make decisions to layer-in fixed volume purchases at opportune times throughout the term of the agreement. The decision to lock in a fixed layer may help take advantage of historic low market pricing, or it may be to mitigate the risk of an upward trending market. No matter the reason, this solution provides customizable flexibility.

Benefits of Layered Energy Products

  • Flexibility to take advantage of market opportunities
  • Power to make regular purchasing decisions
  • Protection from market volatility = moderate
  • Balanced buying approach

Indexed/Variable Energy Products.

Index solutions are designed for clients that have a high tolerance for market risk. They are particularly valuable for clients who work closely with Strategic Energy Advisors and who are comfortable with the dynamic nature of the market. With their entire load floating on a variable rate, they can take full advantage of market lows and have the flexibility to lock in fixed purchases at any time.

Benefits of Indexed/Variable Energy Products

  • Avoid paying risk premiums
  • Take advantage of low market prices
  • Flexibility to lock in fixed purchases
  • Protection from market volatility = low

Taking Advantage of your Opportunities.

The product selection process is full of opportunity. Products with greater risk give you greater flexibility to take advantage of falling market prices. In contrast, products with lesser inherent risk will also possess less flexibility but provide you peace of mind that comes with price certainty. It comes down to finding which product is right for your organization.

Now that you have a better understanding of energy products, you should schedule an appointment with your energy advisor to discuss your opportunities. Strategic energy advisors add a personal touch to energy purchasing and will help guide you through each step of the complex process.


About The Author

Sarah has been in the energy industry for over 11 years. Her background is in customer care, account management, pricing and energy solutions.

As the Director at Nania Energy Advisors, she oversees all internal core functions of the business including marketing and client relations. Her forte is understanding how energy pricing and events affect the course of the market. She most enjoys being an advocate for clients and helping make things easier for them.

Sarah holds a Bachelors in Psychology from Illinois State University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her daughter & family, yoga, traveling & watching college basketball.

Sarah can be reached via email at srousseau@naniaenergy.com or via phone at 630-225-4553.

5 Ways to Protect Your Business from Bad Energy Brokers

By Kurt Backert

March 26, 2018 – Clients tell me all the time: “I get a call every day from one of you brokers. It’s getting to be overwhelming.”

I get it – it’s tough trying to figure out who you can take seriously in the energy industry. The marketplace has become flooded with “brokers” in the last couple years. It seems like every other day, we hear of some new startup group that’s led one of our clients astray.

But the broker model is not my model. I’m an energy advisor – and there is a clear difference. This means not only handling your business’ energy procurement, but also your efficiency upgrades and results tracking afterwards. Unlike a broker, my job doesn’t stop after you’ve signed on the dotted line.

Another part of my job is protecting your business from the bad practices of energy brokers. Here are five ways that I help my clients do that.

Don’t tolerate misleading behavior.

One of the more common tricks brokers use is pretending to be your energy supplier. This gives the appearance of cutting out the middle man so it seems like you’re negotiating your energy contract terms directly. In reality, there are two things wrong with this:

  1. You’re working with someone who’s not being honest about who they are.
  2. You’re left without the ability to get multiple quotes.

When you purchase energy, you want to be negotiating from a position of power. So when you get a call, ask if you can see pricing from multiple suppliers. Multiple suppliers competing for your business in a choice market means lower prices and greater cost savings for you. Advisors like us are happy to show you options.

Demand professionalism in buying energy.

Professionalism in the energy industry means openness and honesty. But energy brokers aren’t always willing to share as much information as they ask of you. It shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. A discussion with a good energy professional should leave you feeling comfortable and empowered.

When you get a call, here are some things you should ask for more detail:

  • Their company.
  • Suppliers with whom they work.
  • What they know about your business.
  • Clients like you they’ve helped.
  • Additional information you can review after the call.

Never make a decision or give verbal authorization for anything on the first call. If you feel pressured to do so, then this is not the partner for you.

Energy advisors love talking about these things. We want to earn your trust by finding you the solutions to your business’ specific challenges. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of our job.

Reinforce your risk tolerance.

When you talk to an energy professional, be upfront about your concerns and what you can’t afford to lose. Ask questions and have them talk you through it. When’s the best time to sign? Will rates go higher or lower? What’s best for my business? Understanding of timing, rates and any risks is essential.

No one can predict the future. But any broker who isn’t comfortable discussing the specific risks associated with energy purchasing for your business is not one with whom you should work.

Energy advisors encourage clients to discuss risk so we can better advise them on every part of their energy strategy. We don’t like surprises either.

Request a needs analysis.

Supply, storage, weather – there are so many forces that cause the energy market to rise and fall. But brokers don’t always look at the whole picture with these things. All too often, they’re only worried about getting you to sign a contract as quickly as they can.

It’s short-sighted. A broker who can’t show you how the changing energy market relates to your business won’t be able to deliver the value that you need.

To better serve our clients, energy advisors conduct a needs analysis. This analysis will both address your organization’s risk tolerance and provide a recommendation specific to your energy needs.

Ask about market volatility.

Energy markets have varying degrees of volatility. That volatility plays a big part in the value of your energy agreement depending on whether you’re on a fixed or indexed price. You should be skeptical of a broker who can’t explain market volatility as it relates to your business’ risk tolerance. Their failure to do so could mean you’re consuming or paying more than you need.

Patience is a virtue not lost on energy advisors. Energy agreements can sometimes take weeks or months to hammer out. But that’s not because one party or the other is too busy. Much of that time is spent waiting for ideal market conditions to develop.

Advisors are happy to keep you up to date on current market conditions and discuss volatility. We’re analyzing historical trends so we can share opportunities for your business to save money or mitigate risk.

Remember:

  • Don’t tolerate misleading behavior.
  • Demand professionalism in buying energy.
  • Request a needs analysis.
  • Reinforce your risk tolerance.
  • Ask about market volatility.

These are the types of frustrations that have made energy buying so overwhelming to many of my clients. But with 25+ years of experience, they’re also the things that I’ve learned to spot and protect them from every day.

Brokers sit across the table from you. Advisors sit right next to you. And I look forward to sitting down with you to find an energy agreement that brings value to your business.


About The Author

Kurt Backert from Nania Energy Advisors

Kurt is an energy sales professional based in Baltimore, MD., with more than 20 years of experience working with and providing value to Mid Atlantic commercial and industrial customers. Kurt’s acquired knowledge of the local utility tariffs and commodity markets helps ensure his clients” interests are best served. Having grown up in Baltimore’s rust belt, he has experienced working with customers from the heavy manufacturing industry to new technology and hospitality clients. His focus is maximizing his clients’ energy savings while keeping them educated in a dynamic energy environment.

Kurt can be reached via email at kbackert@naniaenergy.com or phone at 443-833-8223.

Your Energy Efficiency Project: 100% Funded with On-Bill Financing

By Mike Eckenroth

February 12, 2018 – What comes to mind when I say “energy efficiency”?

There was a time where energy efficiency seemed out of reach for many organizations. Upgrades were too expensive. Technology was too new or too complicated to implement. Results and success stories seemed too good to be true.

But in recent years, that has all changed. Energy efficiency is now attainable and profitable for manufacturers, retailers and property managers like you.

You can modernize your facilities to be more energy efficient. What’s more, you can do it in a way that will not interfere with regular business operations and (perhaps most importantly) will not break the bank.

Energy efficiency initiatives don’t have to seem pie-in-the-sky. With on-bill financing options through your energy supplier, you can spread out the capital risk of an upgrade over time so the project essentially pays for itself. Your energy supplier fronts the capital for your efficiency project, putting less strain on your organization’s finances. The costs of the project are then paid back gradually per a signed energy supply agreement.

On-bill financing options allow you to start your efficiency upgrade projects immediately. The cost savings you receive through reduced energy consumption ultimately offsets the cost of the efficiency project itself. The result is an upgraded facility that’s less costly to manage and leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

On-Bill Financing for Energy Efficiency: How It Works

Your energy supplier fronts the cost for your project. You pay that cost back over the course of your energy supply agreement.

During your initial on-bill financing agreement, a fixed fee is added to your energy invoice. Combined with the reduction in usage provided by the efficiency project, you receive a “net zero” impact to monthly energy costs.

After your on-bill financing agreement has ended, your reduction in usage may lead to an overall long-term reduction in costs. You now have new equipment, happier stakeholders and lower forward energy costs.

Common Energy Efficiency Upgrade Projects

Lighting Improvements

LED lighting and interior/exterior retrofits are some of the most popular efficiency projects we help clients manage.

For one of our clients, Southern Insulation, our team facilitated an LED lighting retrofit of their office and warehouse. This provided better lighting in areas where the brightness of the bulbs and the constant outages was becoming an issue for productivity. From the initial audit through the upgrade, we managed 100% of the project through a chosen supply partner.

During the payback period, Southern Insulation’s costs were still less than what they were paying prior to the project.

Electric Motors & Drives

Another popular kind of project involves reducing consumption on running motors and drives. Our team has advised on high-efficiency motor replacements, as well as the utilization of variable frequency drives.

These types of upgrades are especially popular with manufacturing clients who are looking to improve their overall load profile and meet environmental goals.

Learn More: Ask your Energy Advisor About On-Bill Financing

Water & Sewer Conservation

Water and sewer conservation upgrades also contribute to reducing an organization’s impact on the environment. Property management and senior living communities have come to our team for managing projects like low-flow faucet and showerhead installations.

In 2014, for instance, our team facilitated the “Smart Valve” installation at Newport Condominium in Chicago. We introduced the concept, negotiated the proposal, and reported back on ROI over the 3-year period to follow.

For these properties and others we’ve assisted, the cost savings has been a welcoming sight. They’ve created several positive outcomes – from upgraded amenities (pools, washer/dryer, etc.) to overall higher tenant satisfaction scores.

Building Automation Systems (BAS)/Energy Management Control Systems

Building Automation Systems (BAS) optimize building temperature, humidity, pressure and energy use. Once in place, BAS or control systems give facilities the ability to cut back on their load at will with the flip of a switch.

By reducing usage, these clients reduce the stress they put on the grid and subsequently help systems run more efficiently.

HVAC & BAS projects are often coupled with demand response programs, where organizations like schools have an opportunity to generate additional revenue just by participating. BAS & control systems give these facilities a leg up in their efforts to curtail usage.

Even as energy costs decrease, demand costs can increase. Efficiency projects are a great way to mitigate or offset those costs. By modernizing facilities with on-bill financed efficiency upgrades, your company can make your energy strategy positive and profitable.

Have questions about one of these or some other energy efficiency upgrade options? Give me a call at 443-833-8224 and we can discuss bringing your project to fruition with on-bill financing.


About The Author

Mike is an energy professional based out of Baltimore, Maryland with a strong engineering and purchasing background. His specialties include energy efficiency and strategic commodity procurement. Growing up in the shadow of Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, Mike has an intimate stake in a grid with safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy generation – which he leverages into an energy strategy that provides security for his clients.

Michael can be reached via email at meckenroth@naniaenergy.com or via phone at 443-833-8224.

Demand Response: What It Is & What It Can Do For Your Illinois School District

By Michael Zaura

January 29, 2018 – The two questions I get asked the most when speaking to public school administrators about demand response are:

  1. What is it?
  2. What can it do for my district?

In short, demand response is a program that helps ensure reliability for the electricity grid by getting customers to reduce energy usage during times of peak energy demand. Demand response matters because it provides monetary incentives for participating organizations (including school districts who are already facing immense pressure to perform).

Demand response also reduces the risk of blackouts by ensuring that demand does not exceed overall capacity (how much power the grid can handle). This boosts reliability of the grid by making sure enough energy is available when and where it’s most needed.

Here’s what it can do for your Illinois public school district, as well as some guidance for getting your school prepared for it.

Benefits of Demand Response Programs.

Demand response is a revenue generator for schools.

Demand response generates revenue for your school by providing monetary payments for participation in the program. When you sign up, you’ll designate a percentage of your usage during the test period that you can possibly conserve. So long as you comply with this amount during a 1-hour planned “test event,” you will be due these monies.

Demand response has significant earning potential for schools.

Enrollment in demand response programs is measured in kilowatts (kW) with a minimum of 100 KW.

Each year over the course of 3 years, school customers can earn about $5000 per 100 kw of enrollment and curtailment (reduction) during events.

Demand response is a low-cost, low-risk way to reduce your energy load.

Since demand response tests are done in the summer, they typically won’t affect normal class schedules. Some schools will have summer school, sports or other extracurriculars going on during that time. But it’s easy for schools to survey those schedules and work testing around them.

READ MORE: Demand Response on EIA. gov

Prepping for a Demand Response program.

Test events last one hour. These test events ensure the enrollment of kW a customer commits to is achievable.

Inventory your school’s summer activities & extracurriculars.

When scheduling demand response tests, your school should survey activities and schedule the tests around those dates and times. This is to minimize (or even eliminate) any impact on any summer school or extracurriculars.

Use a generator or building automation system (BAS) to reduce your school’s energy.

If scheduling around those times is too challenging, there are other ways to work around the demand response testing period.

Using a generator or some kind of building automation system can reduce the demand that your school might have during these periods without compromising on your needs. There are specific rules governing which generators qualify for the program, but energy advisors can assist with getting qualifying generators registered for it.

Keep a building engineer on site.

Having a building engineer on site can help guide you through the demand response testing. From turn down to restart, an engineer can provide an accurate assessment of what your school building can and can’t handle. They can help you make a more accurate estimate of how much you can save – thus putting you in a better position to hit your goal.

Demand response is a valuable offering to school districts, particularly in the summer months. By reducing your energy usage during near capacity events, you can actually reduce your costs and make your school some added revenue.

If you have any questions on demand response programs in your area, I’d be more than willing to help. Call our office at 630-225-4557 and we can discuss how demand response can generate revenue for your district.


About The Author

Michael is a Strategic Energy Advisor in the Chicagoland Area. His work in energy specializes in manufacturing, recycling, law, the public space and renewable/green energy. Michael helps his clients craft energy strategies specific to their current and future situations. He is passionate about renewable/green energy and its growth – continuously learning through reading and sharing publications. He enjoys spending his spare time with his wife, daughter and triplet boys.

Mike can be reached via email at mzaura@naniaenergy.com or phone at 630-225-4556.
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Illinois School Districts on Energy: To Group Buy or Not to Group Buy

By Becky Thompson

January 15, 2018 – As an Illinois public school administrator, you hold an enormous amount of responsibility for your district. You have a finite budget, and what you spend is public knowledge. With that kind of transparency comes the expectation to spend it responsibly. No pressure, right?

Considering that schools in the US spend $8 billion annually on energy (more than textbooks and computers combined), proper management of your energy is essential.

But with so many options available, how do you know what’s best for your district?

We could spend hours explaining different products and buying strategies. But let’s focus for now on one of the biggest questions facing most public schools and how they purchase energy.

Should I use a buying group or an energy advisor?

When natural gas (and later electricity) became deregulated in Illinois, the market flooded with options – some good, some not. As with most new things, this opportunity brought uncertainty.

Enter buying groups (aka consortiums).

Making decisions with energy buying groups.

Buying groups offered a host of benefits, including:

  • “Bulk buying” meant leveraging buying power, presumably achieving lower rates.
  • Feeling of less risk through group-made decisions. (i.e. the “group mentality”)
  • Less individual responsibility to watch the market and identify actionable opportunities.
  • Easy transaction. The group coordinators pick a supplier, present options, and school administrators sign and return the paperwork.

Buying group drawbacks.

As the market matured, districts began to shift towards brokers and independent energy advisors.
Former consortium members found that:

  • More buying power did not necessarily mean lower rates, but it did mean socialized costs. Not all accounts in the group received an A+ for their energy use. (Translated: higher costs to all in the group.)
  • They were sometimes put in a position of more risk by not having control over when the group went to market.
  • Advisors still watched the market and kept the responsibility off the district’s plate. But opportunities were individualized and more meaningful to the district.
  • The buying groups focused solely on supply, leaving the district administrators to figure out efficiency measures and revenue-generating demand-side programs.

Do your homework on what energy strategy works best for your school district.

As for whether or not to use a buying group to purchase your district’s energy, that is a decision only you can make for your district. You know your schools better than anyone and have to make choices in your best interest.

Just remember to take into account all factors and do your homework first. If nothing else, speak to an energy advisor to check out all of your options before jumping into any long-term commitments. You might just walk away with a cost-saving strategy that gives your budget some breathing room.


About The Author

Becky is a Strategic Energy Advisor specializing in the public sector, including schools and municipalities. She has been in the energy industry for over five years, working from the ground up as an account manager and then as an electric pricing team lead. Her background knowledge of the inner workings of an energy company helps identify actionable strategies for making her clients’ energy strategies both easy and cost effective. In her free time, Becky enjoys any activity that requires being outside and making her son belly laugh.

Becky can be reached via email at bthompson@naniaenergy.com or phone at 630-225-4561.

How Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Add Value to Your Property

By Calvin Cornish

December 28, 2017 – When it comes to innovation, you can either reject it and try to compete or embrace it and find new ways to grow your business. In my experience, I’ve found that only one of these really ever has any success.

While still in the early elite stages of the product cycle, it won’t be long before electric vehicles (EV) become accessible to the mass public. Bloomberg reported on the surge of electric car sales earlier this year (with some compound growth rates as high as 40%), and The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that ownership had recently surpassed the 2 million unit mark globally in 2017.

Many homeowner associations, condominiums and co-op communities are already getting out in front of the trend. They’ve begun researching how adding electric car and EV charging stations to their premises can bring value to their organizations and tenants. Property managers are recognizing the value in being first to market with electric car charging options. It’s not just about accommodating for the growing market. It’s about accommodating for your residency and upgrading your amenities standards.

I’m sure you have your concerns reading this – be they budget or space-related in nature. Perhaps you are feeling that you are already falling way behind. Allow me to put your fears to rest. Here are some important points to consider with regards to EV charging at your property.

Making A Property More Attractive to Future Home Buyers

One area where charging stations are making an immediate impact is visibility. They make a remarkable first visual impression on prospective tenants. Furnishing your neighborhood with electric vehicle charging stations injects it with an aura of affluency and environmental sensibility. High visibility is vital to attracting new residents and home buyers, and communities that add and include them are passing by those who neglect to do so in the eyes of public perception.

Complying with Emerging HOA Laws & Building Standards

Laws around EV charging have been developing quickly over the last couple of years, with California at the forefront of this legislation. Early occupancy agreements included prohibition of the installation or use of electric vehicle charging stations in a parking space associated with the property. But in 2016, municipalities began mandating that EV spaces account for at least 3% of parking for any new multi-family facilities with 17 or more units.

It is only a matter of time before similar legislation spreads to other major metropolitan areas. As demand grows, existing facilities will be pressed to fall in line. It might be beneficial for you to get out in front of the trend.

Meeting Condo Owners’ Requests for EV Charging Stations

The first step to meeting owner requests is to have an EV charging policy in place. Owners are often planning for the future. Consider that prospective residents are limiting their decision about where to live based on the available charging.

Read More: Chargepoint EV Charging Stations in Condo Business Spaces

With that in mind, you’ll want to have a clear-cut policy in place – one that you can readily provide to an inquiry that will show how your association is forward thinking, well run and inviting. Will the charging be community or is private charging available? What products will be accepted? How will costs be handled for both installation and charging? Answering these questions now will allow you to show demos and robust capabilities that will put inquiring minds at ease and give you a leg up over others.

Properties that offer an electric car charging option are going to help usher our society into a new era. We’ll need the charging stations to accommodate the cars, and we’ll need cars to validate the need for EV charging stations. That said, it’s not going to happen overnight. While the industry continues to make inroads, property managers are getting out in front of it so that they are prepared once EV’s are the norm.

The first step in that process is to sit down with your energy advisor to discuss the potential options for your building. Developing a plan for the future and establishing a policy will put your association in the best possible position going forward.


About The Author

Calvin has served as a Sr. Energy Strategy Advisor at Nania Energy Advisors since 2010. He specializes in preparing property management boards to make informed decisions on energy efficiency through proper industry education. His clients include apartment complexes, condominium associations and senior living facilities. In his free time, Calvin enjoys music and coaching youth sports.

Calvin can be reached via email at ccornish@naniaenergy.com or phone at 630-225-4554.