Energy Management

FY 2020 Program Report

Monitoring the use of electricity, natural gas, propane, and water is an important part of being good stewards of the environment and taxpayer dollars. This report provides an annual overview of both cost and consumption in county government facilities (not including Chesterfield County Public Schools) as well as an overview of programs and efforts related to energy efficiency and management.

Through several departments, county government maintains approximately four hundred facilities for various purposes, totaling over two million square feet. These facilities utilize nearly 720 utility accounts for electricity, natural gas, propane, wastewater and water. Many facilities have 24/7/365 uses such as the Jail, Juvenile Detention Home, Mental Health Group Homes, 911 Center, Fire Stations, Utilities Pump Stations, 911 System Tower Sites and the Information Systems Department Data Center. 

Expenditures

In FY20 the county government spent about $3.9 million dollars on utilities, which is a 4.2% decrease from FY19. Categorical breakdown of costs by commodity is as follows:

CommodityFY18 CostFY19 CostFY20 Cost% Change FY19-20
Electricity$3,983,473$4,074,021$3,901,884
-4.2%
Water$435,798
$415,771
$418,968
-0.8%
Natural Gas$457,661
$407,685
$388,725
-16.9%
Propane$25,448
$21,228
$13,311
-37.3%
Total$4,032,495$4,028,372
$3,769,220
-6.4%


Consumption

A decrease in commodity use was also seen in FY20 compared to FY2019 except for water & sewer.

CommodityFY18 UseFY19 UseFY20 Use% Change FY19-20
Electricity (kWh)38,215,62837,874,06135,515,424-6.2%
Water (Mgal)61,48453,87762,81716.6%
Natural Gas (MCF)58,09352,67145,906-12.8%
Propane (Gal)19,61517,21013,708-20.3%


Existing Programs & Efforts

Solar

The county and school system moved forward with exploring solar power purchase agreements (PPA) for several facilities. A cooperative procurement agreement for Solar Power Purchase was completed in early spring 2020 with Sun Tribe Solar. A Power Purchase Agreement is a method of acquiring renewable energy via solar with no upfront or ongoing costs. The vendor owns, installs and maintains the solar panels and sells the power generated back to the customer at a predetermined reduced price. A proposal/feasibility study is under review for viable county and school facilities. 

Demand Response

Demand Response, also known as load response, is a consumer’s voluntary reduction of their demand for electricity in response to a usage reduction request from the utility, in exchange for a monetary rebate. Demand Response programs help Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) decrease demand during extreme weather when demand on the grid is high. The Community Development Building, along with the addition of the Public Safety Training Center, and the Lane Ramsey Administration Building were part of this program in FY20, generating a rebate of $8406.

Energy Efficiency

In addition to demand response, the PJM (Pennsylvania, Jersey, Maryland) grid operator offers an Energy Efficiency program in which participants can receive rebates for installing energy efficient equipment or implementing more efficient processes/systems that exceed then-current codes, standards or demand. To qualify, an improvement must achieve a permanent reduction in demand for electricity. Common measures that may permanently reduce electric demand are lighting conversions to more efficient lamps or replacing heating and cooling systems with a more efficient system. Rebates are earned for four consecutive years after the project is submitted and approved. In FY20, Chesterfield earned a rebate of $1,953 for seventeen submitted projects.

C’field Unplugged

C’field unplugged is a countywide behavioral-based energy awareness program, initiated in January 2018, to educate and encourage county employees to be good stewards of the environment while being conscious of how we spend tax dollars. Due to reduced occupancy and use related to COVID-19, it cannot be determined which facilities had a decrease in use due to the Cfield Unplugged program in FY20.

Facility Setpoints

Facility setpoints are continually being monitored for consistency and to comply with recommended guidelines. Due to COVID-19 most facilities experienced reduced occupancy during FY20. Measures were taken to adjust set points in some situations  during this time, but significant changes were not implemented based on CDC recommendations for maintaining proper airflow in buildings to help prevent virus spread.

Streetlight Retrofits

Dominion Energy (owner of streetlights) has implemented numerous new options for LED streetlight conversions. Energy Management continued to pursue opportunities to retrofit existing lights to achieve monetary savings.

LED Street Light Conversions

A project to convert 156 Dominion Energy owned streetlights was initiated in FY20. The project has a payback of approximately 15 months. Since LED fixtures carry a lower monthly cost, it is estimated that the totalized streetlight invoice will be reduced by approximately $19,500 annually once the conversions are complete. This is a 2.2% savings on the County’s annual streetlight expenditure.

Rate Evaluations

Annually, electric accounts are reviewed to make sure they are on the most advantageous rate schedule. This is especially important for the county’s larger facilities that have more to gain from a proper rate schedule. As a member of the Virginia Energy Purchasing Governmental Association (VEPGA), the county has fourteen different rates available from which to choose. Effects of reduced occupancy in facilities at the end of FY20 due to COVID-19 created challenges for rate evaluation with unexpected decreases in use and demand.

Utility Bill Audits

Various audit measures are used during and after data imports to identify potential equipment malfunction, overbilling, missed billings and overlapping billings. New accounts are reviewed for proper rate schedule and tax-exempt status. Import audit features, especially for water, have detected otherwise unnoticed issues such as leaks and malfunctioning equipment. Bill auditing also revealed numerous instances of estimated billings due to inaccessible meters for unoccupied facilities in part due to COVID19.

Facilities Design 

As further demonstration of upholding the County’s Strategic Goals of being a Model for Excellence in Government and promoting environmental stewardship, the County utilizes best practices in sustainable building financing, planning, design, construction, management, renovation, maintenance and decommissioning of its facilities.

VACO Go Green Program

The County recognizes, and actively participates in VACO Go Green, a program designed to encourage implementation of environmental policies and practical actions that reduce emissions and save local governments money. The County has been recognized with a Go Green Award for eight consecutive years. In FY20, the program was being revamped and did not accept submissions.

Equipment Check Out – Libraries

Energy Management partnered with Libraries to initiate an energy monitoring and auditing equipment check out program for county residents. Libraries were given “Power Monitoring for Dummies” and “Watts Up” meters for residents to check out at branches throughout the county. The equipment can help homeowners determine the wattage of common household appliances and bring awareness to how much the items are contributing to their monthly electric bill.

General Services Fleet Services Division – Vehicle Alternative Fuels Program 

Fifty-six Chesterfield County fleet vehicles consumed 77,434 gallons of liquid propane (LP) in FY20, accounting for 4% of the fleet’s total fuel consumption. The average purchase price of LP during the same time period was $1.09/gallon, which is approximately 25% less than unleaded and 33% less than diesel.

 
 

Current Initiatives

Solar

The county plans to finalize the power purchase agreement (PPA) with Sun Tribe for sixteen county and school facilities.  Tentatively, the first arrays could be operational by fall of 2021. Over the 25-year lease period, the feasibility study estimates a savings of about $1.8 million for a total system production of 52 million kWh.

LED Street Light Conversions

As part of the Streetlight Retrofit program, all Dominion Energy owned lights in the county complex and an extended area to include the Central Library, Courthouse complex, Courthouse Bus Garage, and portions of the Airport will be retrofit. The Community Enhancement Department also plans to retrofit lights along the Jefferson Davis corridor in the southeastern part of the County.  

Exterior Lighting Enhancements Project

A major outdoor lighting enhancement project for County facilities is planned for FY22 to achieve energy savings and improve security around County buildings and parking lots.

 Harmonic Filter Pilot

In early FY20, harmonic filters were placed on the electric panels at Ettrick-Matoaca Library as a pilot project. These filters are intended to decrease electricity use by eliminating harmonic oscillation and increasing efficiency. Although use data on the facility was monitored throughout the year to evaluate the effectiveness of the filters and determine plans for future additional installations, closure of the facility due to COVID-19 has rendered data in the last four months of FY20 inaccurate. Consumption data will continue to be monitored in FY21.