Demand Response – What, Why and How?

What is Demand Response?

Utility companies have the responsibility to supply energy to the consumers. During peak hours the demand for electricity or gas increases. This poses an extra burden on the utility providers to meet the increased demand. Sometimes resulting in building more power plants to serve the growing customer base.

Demand Response programs are used to tackle the demand and supply. This program provides the consumers time-based rates and financial incentives to reduce their consumption during the peak hours.

These type of programs are a valuable resource for power grid industry and can have a potential impact on the monetization of the grid plants.

Why should you take part?

  • Get financial incentive
  • Eliminate excessive use of electricity
  • Contribute to greener environment
  • Help electricity providers defer construction of new power plants, thus helping minimize your costs

These are just a few of the many reasons why you should be participating in Demand Response programs.

How can UtiliSave help?

UtiliSave helps you to take advantage and manage Demand Response programs – adding to your revenue while contributing to a greener environment – with no out of pocket cost to you. Our experts will develop a suitable plan that meets your operational requirement. Contact us know more.

Impact of Weather on Your Utilities

During the summer months temperatures rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and in the winter months drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The load on the heating and cooling units reaches the maximum capacity, affecting the efficiency of the HVAC system.

This winter New York did not experience harsh weather, unlike the previous years. We were barely touched by a couple of mild cold spells. On February 9th the Tri-State area was hit by snowstorm, Niko, causing temperatures to plunge to 27 degrees and lower. This significantly affected the heating systems to run at full capacity to maintain the heat inside the buildings. Many tenants were known to use additional portable heaters, leading to an increase in the demand for electricity. Some buildings turned up their heat a day before the snow storm.  Just one day of extreme temperature can cause an increase in utility bills.

Building owners don’t pay attention to such sudden changes in utility usage. They simply attribute it to harsh weather. But what they don’t realize is that there are other ways to prepare for extreme weather (be it summer or winter). Invest in keeping your HVAC system tuned, fixing the air leaks in the building and using ENERGY STAR® windows are some precautions that can be easily implemented.

Here is where UtiliSave comes into the picture. With the help of our expert auditors and propriety software, we analyze utility bills to scout for billing errors and operational inefficiencies. Through our in-depth analysis, we uncover potential operational issues that result in wasted energy usage.

Contact us here to know more about UtiliSave and our services.

NYC Local Law 84—What Does it Mean for Your Building and Should You Comply?

History
In December 2009, the NYC Mayor signed legislation requiring New York City buildings to submit annual energy and water consumption data to the city. This law, known as NYC Local Law 84 is a part of the Greener, Greater Building Plan. The plan was created to track energy and water usage throughout New York City in order to give building owners and potential buyers a better understanding of a building’s energy and water consumption—in an effort to shift the market towards increasingly efficient, high-performing buildings (PlaNYC).

The Fine Print of Local Law 84
Unlike the other three laws associated with the Greener, Greater Building Plan, Local Law 84 is the only law that requires building owners or operators to submit annual energy and water consumption data, also known as benchmarking. The types of buildings that must comply with Local Law 84 are as follows:

  • Private sector buildings that are larger than 50,000 square feet, and
  • Two or more private sector buildings on a single lot that are larger than 100,000 square feet. (PlaNYC)

The Benchmarking Process and Due Date
After energy and water data is collected, all of this information must be submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online ENERGYSTAR Portfolio Manager® by May 1, 2017.

Failure to Submit Data
If your building, company or organization fails to comply, you will be fined up to $2,000 per building. Yikes!

UtiliSave Can Help
There is good news. The May 1st deadline is fast approaching and we understand you are busy and might need some assistance. UtiliSave’s experts will acquire, prepare and submit all necessary information to comply with Local Law 84. This means almost no work for you and no fines! For our existing auditing clients, benchmarking is FREE. If you are not an UtiliSave auditing client, you can sign up today or simply pay for benchmarking.

Non-New York City Buildings—What’s in it for You?
Even if your building is not located in New York City, benchmarking is a smart tool to help better manage building operations. In addition to handling all aspects of your benchmarking, UtiliSave can assist and train you on how to use our additional value-added services to make benchmarking data even more financially beneficial and provide you with the insight to continually improve your efficiency and firmly establish your commitment to being a resource-sensitive operation.

If you would like to utilize our free benchmarking service, sign up today and become one of the many companies that have saved money on their utility bills through our Bill Audit™ service. Contact a member of the team at (718) 382-4500 x207 or ritz@utilisave.com. Simple savings starts with a forensic utility audit.

Still not sure if your building is required to benchmark? Visit PlaNYC’s Covered Buildings List to find out now.

Benchmarking – The Benefits of Achieving the Energy Star Label

Property developers are always interested in gaining marketing advantages and the Energy Star label is a great way to do that.  Buildings that earn the Energy Star label are at least 15% more energy efficient than other peer buildings.  Research has shown that energy efficient buildings rent for an average premium of 2-6% more. With energy efficiency becoming increasingly important as cities strive to be green, benchmarking has become a standard in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.  The Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008 requires all private buildings over 50,000 gross square feet to report their energy use. Ultimately, it leads to a space that is greener and more energy efficient.

Benchmarking is important for three key reasons:

  1. Providing greater transparency into how buildings are performing.
  2. Gaining insight into where efficiency improvements can be made, helping to determine retrofitting and energy saving initiatives.
  3. Improving the efficiency results in significant economic benefits, such buildings:
    • Can sell at a premium of as much as 16.5% more
    • Attract high-quality tenants
    • Have lower default rates for commercial mortgages

Benchmarking is also helpful for tenants:

Also, tenant spaces can use low-cost energy simulation models. Tenants for large spaces can compare different energy efficiency measures through energy simulations. Additionally improving the leasing language of the traditional building leases to create “green leases” can help mitigate the landlord-tenant split-incentive problem. To increase the use of green leases, which in turn can help tenants realize financial benefits, industry trade organizations can continue to highlight examples of successful green leases, collect and publish best practices, and create case studies that illustrate the benefits and market opportunity for green leasing strategies. Education that increases energy efficiency literacy among real estate brokers will help them to better respond to tenant requests for energy-efficient spaces and leases.

Next Steps:

In NYC with the year coming to an end, building owners need to start preparing for benchmark reporting. Each year between January 1st and April 31st data must be collected and submitted for the prior year. The owner is responsible for reporting results to the department of Finance. The owner must request tenant energy data in January and the tenant has until February to report such information. Benchmarking data must be submitted through ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager.

In some cases, if a building owner has leased a building to a single tenant, the building owner may, with the tenant’s consent, delegate all benchmarking responsibility to the tenant. Fines will be distributed to the building owners or non-residential tenants that don’t report by the deadline. You can be fined UP TO $100/day, so don’t wait until it’s too late to benchmark your buildings!

You can help to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking measures to cut your building’s energy use and help make your city a cleaner and healthier place by taking the initiative to making your building green.

As a leading optimizer and auditor of utility bill data for large energy consumers, UtiliSave provides benchmarking services to multifamily and commercial buildings throughout the US. UtiliSave has helped property owners meet their benchmarking requirements, analyze data for accuracy and uncovered utility cost savings.

Find out more about how UtiliSave can help you with Benchmarking or download our case study “Accurate Data: The Key to Benchmarking Success” located under case studies and select any industry.

Utility Sales and Use Taxes in New York – Are You Certain that your Filings are Right?

The New York Department of Taxation and Finance allows for sales tax exemptions on utilities (gas, electric, coal, steam, refrigeration, wood) for a business that produces tangible personal property for sale.

To qualify for the exemption, the utilities must be used directly and exclusively (100%) in the production phase of the product. The production process is the act of changing the raw material to the product to be sold, this includes the production activity, conveyance of materials through the production line, storage and handling of the product and the packaging of the product for sale.

However, companies need to be careful on what they claim as exempt. Utilities used in the administration or distribution phases do not qualify for the exemption. Therefore, utilities do not qualify for the exemption if they are used or consumed in the lighting of buildings; the heating and cooling of buildings; or the storage of other property.

Sounds confusing and hard to ensure that your utility sales tax is being reported correctly? And even if you think you have your utility sales tax “under control” you may miss saving opportunities if you are not aware of all the rules and regulations, misapply the rules, collected your data incorrectly or overlook exemptions.

One solution to this problem is to have your utility sales taxes reviewed by a third party who is an expert in this area. This third party company can ensure your filings are correct by examining the completeness of your submissions, reviewing the methods of exemption this includes a deep-dive into the rules and regulations for your industry, and checking all components that are applicable to your portfolio.

At UtiliSave, as part of our utility bill auditing process we review your utility sales and use taxes. We leverage over 25 years of experience and our proprietary methodologies to do a deep dive analysis and through examination of the completeness and accuracy of your sales tax.

Find out more, read our case study. Look for “Challenging Your Certainty – Uncovering Sales Tax Savings through Deep Dive Data Analysis” under any of the industries.

A Guideline for Selecting the Best Utility Bill Auditing Company for Your Business

You have decided you want to do a utility bill audit. And you know you want to use a Utility Bill Auditing company, but how do you select the right one for your company?

The best type of company cannot only recover refunds from past bills, but are experts with a proven track record of securing money on future ones. Selecting the wrong utility bill auditing company can be an expensive mistake. Here are some guidelines to consider and the top 10 questions to ask when selecting a utility bill auditing company.

Utility Bill Auditors – Guidelines on How to Choose the Best One

Experience – Ask your potential providers how long they have been performing utility bill audits. You want to avoid companies that are new and inexperienced, particularly those that are not committed to the business long term.

Specialist – Seek a company that specializes in utility bill auditing not a company that has it as an ad-hoc service.

Auditing Personnel – The real value in hiring a utility bill auditing company comes from the experience of those actually conducting the audit. Find out if they are seasoned auditors, utilities experts and tariff specialists.

Industry Experience – Learn of the utility bill auditor’s knowledge in your industry. Seek out professional bill auditors that have worked with other companies like yours. Review saving reports to understand how much they saved others in your industry.

Top 10 Questions to Ask!

Perform your due diligence; learn the answers to these questions before selecting a utility bill auditor.

  1. Which utility bills do they audit?
  2. Do they look to recover funds and savings on past as well as on future billings?
  3. What is their track record for utilities (electric, gas, steam, sewer and water) in your industry?
  4. Do they have experience with your utility providers? Are they familiar with their rates, their tariff structures?
  5. Are they familiar with local tax or other incentives?
  6. Do they just recommend how to get your refunds and better rates or do they work through all appropriate agencies or utilities to implement all changes and obtain all refunds, savings and credits available?
  7. Do they use proprietary advanced technology to analyze the utility data to identify utility cost savings?
  8. How do they analyze your utility bill costs and how does the process work?
  9. Do they do forensic auditing on audits on audits previously conducted by other utility bill auditors, as known as trailing audits?
  10. Is the service risk-free?

Top Five Energy Bill Errors that Hurt Large Energy Consumers

Top Five Energy Bill Errors that Hurt Large Energy Consumers

 Many people aren’t aware that small errors on an energy bill can cost large energy consumers a hefty amount of money in the long run. However, consumers can educate themselves on common sources of energy errors and they can seek guidance from auditing and utility experts to help them obtain the reimbursements they are justly due. There are five common errors that happen more often than the consumer is aware.

  1. Billing Period Errors: One source of errors can occur in the billing period. Sometimes errors arise when one billing period overlaps another. For example, a consumer may be charged for 31 days of usage in a month, but that billing period only had 29 days of usage.
  2. Invoicing Errors: Another common error is balance forwarding, which is when a previous balance on an account is carried over to another billing period, or is brought over accidentally from a different account. Additional billing errors include invoices that are sent to the wrong account, invoices sent when the account has been closed, the application of duplicate line items and energy credits, which would have reduced a bill, not being applied.
  3. Supplier Contract Error: Supplier contract errors also occur regularly. This is when a customer changes utility companies and are charged for energy from both their new and old companies.
  4. Incorrect Meter Readings: Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of every meter in a large facility that is powered by multiple units, which can lead to errors in the readings. Utility companies may not always be alerted for these types of issues, especially if they are receiving monthly payments from the customer.
  5. Deviations in Energy Usage: Utility companies don’t react when they see large deviations in energy usage. A responsible energy carrier will let their client know when they see spikes in usage in order to help their customer identify problems and reduce energy use.

Many consumers might not have the knowledge needed to find these errors and bring them to the attention of the utility company to get the reimbursement they deserve; this is where using a forensic auditing and utility expert can make a big difference in energy savings.

UtiliSave, which serves over 16,000 properties nationwide, has found that because of the above errors there is a 93% likelihood that a customer will find a utility error on their bills. UtiliSave has found that the energy overcharges for large institutions can often average from around 2.5% to 10%.

 

UtiliSave CEO Featured in Commercial Observer

20160419_michael_steifman_028-e1461766966445

Commercial Observer featured UtiliSave’s CEO, in its April 27, 2016 article entitled “Michael Steifman is Bringing Down Energy Bills One Audit at a Time.” This article discussed how UtiliSave’s business model of performing risk free energy audits has led to substantial refunds and energy savings to the companies that it serves.

Steifman founded his premier energy auditing and consulting firm, UtiliSave, in the early 1990s when energy auditing was a relatively new concept. UtiliSave now serves over 16,000 properties owned by about 600 landlords and includes a wide variety of commercial and residential organizations as well as governmental organizations, universities, hospitals, hotels and manufacturers.

In an energy conscientious society, it is mission critical for most companies to reduce their energy consumption and overhead costs. UtiliSave conducts audits of companies’ energy bills and saves their customers money by finding areas where they were overcharged.  In fact, UtiliSave has saved their customers between $350 to $400 million dollars by obtaining refunds for their clients from the energy companies.

UtiliSave offers a wide variety of consulting and technology services to their customers.  And to help their customers manage their energy cost they developed Utility Management Interface (UMI). The UMI Dashboard is a browser-based platform that gives their customers a simple way to review and track comprehensive utility data at their fingertips. Learn more about UMI by watching this demo.

Steifman is an innovator in the energy auditing arena and has contributed significantly towards energy savings for many companies. UtiliSave continues to grow and take on new clients and is constantly working on new ways to help yield savings for their customers.

Read more….

Effects of Storm Jonas on Utilities

Storm Jonas

From January 22, 2016 to January 24, 2016, the Mid-Atlantic through the Northeast regions of the United States were hit hard with a major blizzard, called Storm Jonas, which affected approximately 103 million people.  It took many by surprise after having a relatively warm winter. In its aftermath, some states saw up to three feet of snow.

Governors of eleven states declared a state of emergency and the National Guard was deployed and distributed road salt throughout the affected areas. Utility companies were faced with the responsibility of getting their customers up and running as quickly as possible.

Con Edison pro-actively helped their customers to avert more than 1,000 power outages during the Blizzard due to one billion dollar upgrades it had performed to its infrastructure over the past three years. Specifically, Con Edison observed that more than 1,000 customers in Brooklyn and Queens would have experienced outages if not for new equipment installed along overhead wiring, streamlined to make the system more durable, thus preventing outages. These improvements helped Con Edison address other outages. More than 4,500 storm related power outages occurred. Con Edison’s crews were able to respond quickly to restore power in the heaviest hit areas and by Monday when the storm ended all customers were backed up.

Con Edison’s mobile solutions also helped customers manage their accounts, report and check the status of an outage and learn energy-saving tips, thereby helping them be able to contact Con Edison quicker and minimize hazards.

Companies in warmer areas sent trucks to help with the affected area in a show of support. For example Tampa Electric sent about 250 workers to North Carolina to help Duke Energy in the Carolinas.

Although there was some damage, the actions of states working together with citizens and utility companies helped minimize the threats. State Governors set the tone for actions to be taken during the storm on a state level and were in contact with Utility companies.

For example, New Jersey State Governor Chris Christie’s representatives were on conference calls with the power companies and helped direct customers to utility resources. States of Emergency were called so that only essential vehicles could be on the road. The BPU, or New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, activated a storm cloud reporting system to help power companies track outages. This helped the utility companies provide a more rapid response in the face of the storm.

Duke Energy in North Carolina deployed about 3,200 line workers in the area to deal with the storm.

In Maryland, Baltimore Gas & Electric said about 12,000 customers had lost service, but the end of the storm power had returned nearly all. During the worst of the storm, 5,500 BG&E customers were without power.

Ultimately, Storm Jonas greatly affected the utilities on the East Coast. Luckily, state officials were able to predict it and declare a state of emergency ahead of time. Con Edison’s technology also helped lessen the effects of the storm. For other utilities however, there was still damage, and numerous individuals still lost their power.

 

Sources:

http://www.utilitydive.com/news/east-coast-utilities-prepare-for-potentially-crippling-winter-storm/412534/

http://www.state.nj.us/governor/news/news/552016/approved/20160122b.html

http://www.utilitydive.com/news/east-coast-utilities-dodged-a-bullet-with-winter-storm-jonas/412724/

Pumpkin Spice … Methane?

jack-o-lanterns

With Fall comes Pumpkin everything— from Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Pumpkin flavored chips, and everything you can think of in between.  But this year, there’s news about pumpkins that is a little less delicious. According to the Energy Department, this festive vegetable is actually not as harmless as you’d think. It’s being said that the Pumpkin is responsible for unleashing harmful greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Every year after Halloween, these Pumpkins go right out to the trash. The website for the Department of Energy says that these millions of pounds of pumpkins contribute to the already 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year. This municipal waste over time decomposes into methane, which is a greenhouse gas that has more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide. Understandably, the influx in solid waste this time of year is more than noticeable due to this festive decoration. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, over one billion pounds of pumpkins are produced in the U.S. each year!

Fortunately, the Department of Energy is developing a solution for this seasonal influx of solid waste, as well as a year round solution. They are taking a crucial step in the development of the U.S. bio industry, which is to establish first-of-a-kind integrated bio-refineries that are capable of efficiently converting a broad range of biomass feedstocks into commercially viable biofuels, bio-power, and other bio-products. Integrated bio-refineries are similar to conventional refineries in that they produce a range of products to optimize both the use of feedstocks and production economics.

These pumpkins are certainly a small part of the bigger picture in the United States when it comes to waste. Municipal solid waste can be used to harness bioenergy, the Energy Department says, which can help the U.S. become less dependent on carbon-based fuels while limiting stress on landfills by reducing waste. Hopefully this new initiative will be successfully put into place soon so we could stop putting the blame on our jack-o-lanterns, and keep moving forward to making a healthier place to live!