Utility could set standard for reducing energy costs
By PAUL BRIAND
Apr. 16, 2018
STRATHAM, N.H. (AP) — The state's largest electric utility hopes its partnership with one of the Seacoast's largest manufacturers can serve as a template for how the state's large, medium and small businesses, as well as homeowners, can reduce their energy costs.
Eversource in February signed a memorandum of understanding with Lindt Chocolate USA, committing to a three-year energy-saving strategic partnership designed to save the chocolatier nearly 3.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually at its Stratham plant.
Eversource hopes its 2018-2020 New Hampshire Statewide Energy Efficiency Plan, which received state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approval in January, helps mitigate some of the concerns expressed by businesses and policymakers about how to deal with high energy costs in the Granite State.
Meant to address usage as opposed to rates, the plan, said Katherine "Kate" Peters, supervisor of Eversource's energy efficiency program, "helps get the customer to do things that they wouldn't be able to do otherwise, and they get the energy savings into the future."
The partnership uses a combination of investment by the companies and rebates from Eversource to pay for equipment upgrades and improvements that make mechanical systems more efficient in their energy use.
"The measures implemented through the 2018-2020 Plan will save more than 4 billion electric kilowatt-hours and 7.5 million natural gas MMBtus," Eversource said in its initial filing with the PUC. "In addition, the program will save 5.4 million MMBtus from other fuels. These energy savings will result in customer energy cost savings of more than $867 million in energy costs over the life of the measures. The measures implemented in 2018-2020 will reduce peak demand by 39 MW, which in turn will reduce costs for all customers."
The program is part of a settlement between state regulators and the state's four utilities (Eversource, Liberty, New Hampshire Electric Co-op and Unitil) to achieve certain energy savings targets.
The agreement with the PUC expands on prior efforts by the utilities to implement a so-called Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) by working cooperatively with consumers, large and small.
In the Lindt agreement, according to Eversource, it started with a comprehensive, data-driven energy analysis of the entire facility to determine a plan that includes the installation of a new energy-efficient central chiller plant and rooftop cooling units, a wastewater heat recovery system, state-of-the-art ventilation and LED lighting and controls throughout the plant.
"Working with Eversource, we developed a comprehensive and cost-effective strategy to make a significant and meaningful reduction in energy use at our Stratham production facility," said Davide Nico, vice president of operations at Lindt Chocolate USA.
"Over the next few years, we will complete a number of renovations and construction projects that will enhance the efficiency of our processes, complement our ongoing sustainability efforts, and help to lower our energy costs."
As part of an overall corporate strategy, Lindt Chocolate USA works to reduce its energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions per ton of chocolate produced, with the goal of an annual 2 percent reduction in both categories.
In addition to the energy and cost savings, Lindt Chocolate's partnership with Eversource will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1,600 tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of powering nearly 420 homes for a year.
"With the state of New Hampshire adding new resources to make energy efficiency a top priority in the coming years, Lindt USA is leading the charge for businesses across the state," said Tilak Subrahmanian, vice president of energy efficiency at Eversource. "We are excited to collaborate with Lindt USA as we work together to cut operating costs and contribute to a cleaner and healthier state environment."
According to Eversource's Peters, the three-year energy savings program approved by the state PUC applies not only to a large manufacturer, such as Lindt, but to medium and small businesses, as well as the residential consumer.
Its agreement with Lindt is the first such memorandum of understanding in the Granite State, Peters said.
For businesses, the energy improving measures can include changes to mechanical systems and processing equipment, switching to LED lighting and automatic lighting controls, as well as installation of more efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems.
For residences, it can include identifying and fixing areas where heat and cooling are escaping a home through cracks in or the lack of insulation.
Peters said Eversource in each case looks to customize a solution for a business or homeowner participating in the cost-sharing program of energy saving improvements through NHSaves, the collaborative effort by the state's four utilities to help utility customers fund energy efficiency initiatives through a monthly charge, based on their use of electricity and natural gas. In the case of income-qualified homeowners, the improvements are free.
Lindt Chocolate USA is part of Lindt & Sprungli, known as a global leader in the premium chocolate category, with 12 production facilities in Europe and the United States, including the Stratham plant, which went into operation in 1989 and is one of Eversource's largest New Hampshire customers.
Eversource is New Hampshire's largest electric utility, serving more than 500,000 homes and businesses in 211 cities and towns, and also supplies water to approximately 9,300 homes and businesses in Hampton, North Hampton and Rye.
Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com