Solar Project Guarantees Energy Savings

Chevron Energy Solutions, a unit of ChevronTexaco, has begun construction on an energy conservation project that the company expects will save Washtenaw County taxpayers more than US$215,000 a year in energy, maintenance and operational costs. The comprehensive project will involve 18 county buildings and will include the county’s first solar electric installation, upgrades of building infrastructures, and energy management training for employees that together are designed to reduce expenses and improve indoor comfort.

The costs of the project will be funded through future energy savings associated with the project’s newly installed high-efficiency equipment. The savings resulting from the installation the equipment are redirected to pay for the costs of the project and are guaranteed by Chevron Energy Solutions. This form of contracting, commonly known as performance contracting, has become increasingly popular in recent years among states, cities, counties and other public institutions because it enables the users to retain scarce capital resources for other critical needs while benefiting from facility upgrades and reduced energy costs. Chevron Energy Solutions worked with county officials to develop a program that includes: interior and exterior efficient lighting and controls; a new solar photovoltaic generation unit that will reduce the county’s power purchases; chiller, steam trap and air handler unit replacements; new boilers; window improvements; upgraded energy management controls consistent with a county-wide system; and a web-based energy information system, that will provide remote access to real-time energy data at each facility to improve maintenance and energy management. Chevron Energy Solutions assisted the county in applying for and receiving a $60,000 grant for a 10-kilowatt solar power array that will be installed on the parking structure canopy at the Washtenaw County Courthouse. The photovoltaic system will provide electricity to the underground parking garage, even in the event of a blackout, and will serve as an educational tool for employees, residents and visitors. “It’s important to incorporate renewable technologies into the community’s energy portfolio,” said Kerry Sheldon, Washtenaw County management analyst. “By installing alternative energy resources as well as energy efficiency improvements, we’re applying conservation practices on both sides of the utility meter. It’s the most effective way to secure sustainable long-term energy savings for the county.” The US$6.1 million project also includes a comprehensive energy education program for 600 to 800 county employees. The training will cover proper operation of the new equipment and will also teach conservation habits that employees can apply in their own jobs. In addition, the training will increase project savings and help sustain the energy savings over time. “The solutions developed for this project will help Washtenaw County improve its delivery of services and the quality of indoor environments for patrons and employees,” said Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions. “Taxpayers win through this show of fiscal responsibility — and the environment wins as well.”