Vol. 22   No. 3
Fall 2016
  • MGE Talks Business
Energy Trends

On Demand Savings Program Reduces On-peak Costs

On Demand Savings Program Reduces On-peak Costs

MGE's Chris Favia and Spectrum Brands' Bill Wheeler worked together to reduce on-peak costs at the Spectrum headquarters in Middleton.

Many businesses focus on reducing energy use to control costs. But you might achieve greater savings by taking action during on-peak periods when demand for electricity across the region is high.

The On Demand Savings (ODS) program was developed to address this opportunity. ODS helps customers:

  • Better understand their on-peak demand charges.
  • Develop strategies to reduce demand using their existing energy management system (EMS).

More than 30 MGE business customers participate in the pilot that kicked off last year. These businesses are on a time-of-use electric rate and have a monthly electric demand of 20 kilowatts or greater. They represent a variety of industries, have different types of equipment and energy needs.

"Having this variety helps us determine which strategies are most effective for which types of customers and under which circumstances," said Bob Connor, MGE Director - Commercial and Industrial Marketing.

One participant in the ODS program is Spectrum Brands. This diversified consumer products company occupies a 210,000-square-foot building in Middleton. In the Madison area, it is best known as the parent company of Rayovac batteries.

"When it came to saving energy, we didn't have any low-hanging fruit," said Bill Wheeler, Spectrum's Facility Engineering Manager. "So we were intrigued by the On Demand Savings pilot program to see if we could find more adjustments."

ODS aims to help customers identify those adjustments that will work best for them. The program uses a customer's unique demand profile and suggests the best strategies to shed electric load for maximum cost savings.

MGE electric meters interface with participants' EMS's—providing real-time and historical data on their energy use. Customers can see their demand in monthly, daily, hourly or 15-minute intervals. This allows customers to take action to control their energy use during on-peak times.

Spectrum used this information and worked with Control Solutions Inc. to achieve greater savings. As the temperature rose outside, Spectrum increased the temperature set points on their HVAC systems and readjusted fan speeds. The 600 employees at Spectrum's headquarters remained comfortable as the company saved energy.

Spectrum also:

  • Set controls to automatically shut down one of two chillers when the company was approaching peak energy use.
  • Used daylight sensors to turn off lights.

The focus of the ODS program is to identify load-shedding or shifting strategies customers can implement at little or no cost. This includes strategies that can be programmed into an existing EMS and manual load-shedding strategies that building operators can implement.

While ODS data continues to be analyzed, the program is reporting positive results. Many participants are experiencing monthly on-peak demand levels lower than their baselines. In addition, participants report a greater understanding of how their on-peak demand charges impact their utility costs.

"The education component is a critical part of this effort," Conner explained. "We take time up-front to discuss peak demand, how it impacts cost and where the greatest potential for savings lies for that customer."

The ODS pilot program is a partnership between MGE and Focus on Energy. Originally slated to end this year, MGE has asked state regulators for approval to continue the program through 2018. The National Governors Association was instrumental in bringing this project together and may share pilot results that could be replicated by other utilities across the country.