City’s utility costs lower in 2018 than previous year: Energy Management branch

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The City’s 2018 annual corporate-wide utility costs came in at $8.97 million, compared to $9.33 million in utility expenses for 2013, the year the Energy Management (EM) Branch was established.
Since the branch was created, “the City has realized a utility cost avoidance of $6.64 million,” Adam McMullin, manager of energy management, informed council. 
The branch’s mandate is to reduce utility consumption and associated costs for all City owned and operated infrastructure. Those costs include electricity, natural gas, propane and water that service City facilities, water and wastewater infrastructure, parks, street lighting and traffic signals.
“In 2018, City operations achieved a favourable utility budget variance of $768,589 (7.9%) and an annual cost reduction of $261,238 (2.8%) compared to 2017 expenses. These savings were driven by moderation in electricity rates and reduced utility consumption for the majority of City facilities. These consumption reductions are achieved through a collaborative effort between the operations staff and the (branch).”
Highlights from 2018, says McMullin, include:
• Mayor’s Megawatt Challenge Award: This award recognizes municipal facilities that cut energy consumption by 10 per cent compared to the previous year. The award was presented to City Hall, which reduced energy consumption by 16 per cent. 
• The establishment of the Water Optimization Group: This is a team launched by the Water Operations and Energy Management staff to seek conservation opportunities at the Surface Water Treatment Plant. Last year, the group met six times and created eight priority areas. One of the focus areas has resulted in reduced electricity consumption of 20 per cent through January and February of 2019, with a cost avoidance of $20,000. 
• Innovative Capital Planning and Implementation: Last year the branch received $300,000 in capital funding to launch conservation projects that result in a minimum rate of return of 10 per cent over the lifetime of the asset.
“This innovative approach has provided flexibility to maximize capital funding dollars to realize more value for City operations. For example, if material pricing is lower than estimated (which if often the case when purchasing LED technology), staff utilize the unspent monies on additional measures,” says McMullin.
• Electric Vehicle Charge Station Deployment: In 2018, the City, in partnership with Tesla, located electrical vehicle charging stations at four municipal locations around the city; 12 at the city marina, 12 at Heritage Park, six at the downtown library, ands 24 at the parkade on Collier Street.
“This partnership provided an opportunity to enhance service to residents and visitors, promote community sustainability and deploy infrastructure at no capital expense to the City.”
• Incentives: The branch seeks to get the most from incentives and grant funding related to conservation initiatives available from local utility companies, provincial and federal jurisdictions. Last year, $154,000 in incentives revenue was collected. Since 2015 more than $1.6 million in incentives have been collected in support of energy conservation initiatives.
City operations used less electricity, 1.1 per cent less in 2018, and 10 per cent more in natural gas usage. Water consumption rose 13 per cent compared to 2017. 
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