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Efficiency Technology Energy Spring 2018

On Demand Savings Program Helps Promega Uncover Energy Savings

Daniel Motl—the facility director at Promega Corp., a leading biotechnology firm—wants to deliver an optimal production environment as efficiently as possible.

On Demand Savings Program

Promega Corporation Facility Director Daniel Motl used MGE’s new On Demand Savings Program to reduce energy costs during times of peak electricity demand.

So when MGE announced its On Demand Savings (ODS) pilot in 2015 to help customers identify and reduce their electricity use during on-peak hours, Promega was quick to sign up. "We felt being able to monitor demand in real time would allow us to make more informed decisions about our energy use," Motl said.

What is on-peak demand?

"On-peak" is the time of day when system-wide energy demand is at its highest. Companies on time-of-use rates are charged at a higher rate for electricity used during this period, making it a desirable time to minimize energy use.

On-Peak demand is for the 15-minute interval when you use the most electric power to run your equipment, lights, etc., during the on-peak time period (10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays).

What is the ODS program?

The ODS program helps participating business customers uncover ways to cut overall energy use and/or shift it to off-peak hours. Customers who have an automated energy management system can use ODS data to program set points. Others can use system data to drive manual load-shedding/shifting strategies. The ODS program is especially valuable during the summer months when electric use peaks in the Midwest.

To participate, companies must be on a time-of-use electric rate—which means they're billed different rates for using electricity at different times of the day, based on system demand—and use at least 20 kilowatts (kW) of electricity each month.

As of first quarter 2018, there were 32 sites in the program.

How did ODS work for Promega?

Motl liked the fact that the program offered access to historic data. ODS includes an online dashboard that allows him to see energy demand in monthly, daily, hourly and 15-minute intervals.

"When it comes to energy management, the more data the better," Motl said. "With ODS we've gained a better understanding of our building's demand behavior and been able to make better decisions about our on-peak energy use."

Working with Madigan Refrigeration, the installation and service vendor for Promega's cold storage systems, Motl was quickly able to use data from the program to identify an opportunity to save energy. "We adjusted the defrost scheduling on some major equipment and made changes that provided one of our largest demand reduction outcomes," Motl said.

According to data from Focus on Energy—MGE's partner in the pilot portion of ODS—these changes cut Promega's peak demand by 11% from the company's baseline.

ODS created broader benefits for Promega. Motl was able to leverage insights from a building that was part of the program—Promega's 200,000+ square-foot Biopharmaceutical Technology Center (BTC)—to improve energy efficiency at a building that wasn't.

"Applying things we'd learned at the BTC helped us determine that some air handling systems weren't scheduled properly and allowed us to make valuable changes at our DaVinci facility too," Motl said.

In an ideal world, Motl would love to have consumption data for specific systems and equipment: with ODS, multiple pieces of equipment are linked to each meter.

"Without submetering (which is cost-prohibitive at this time), we have to make assumptions about how a piece of equipment is contributing to our overall energy profile," Motl said. "But ODS is definitely a step in the right direction and being part of it heightened our interest in making that type of monitoring happen. If we can realize the benefits we already have with just a little more knowledge, imagine what we could do with more complete data. The ODS program challenged us to take a closer look at scheduled demand opportunities and is an important piece of our overall energy management strategy."

Here's where you can learn more about MGE's ODS program.