Original Date: 07/10/2006
Revision Date: / /
Best Practice : Energy-Savings Performance Contract
Tobyhanna Army Depot has developed a federal- /private-sector partnership with local providers to meet its immediate energy needs and has developed ways to make continuous improvements in energy savings. The facility has not only conserved energy but has successfully developed a redundant source of energy.
To ensure the effective continuing performance of its mission, Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) began examining the viability of its early 1950s, coal-fired central heating plant in 1992. The heating system had been experiencing an increasing frequency of failure in the boiler and in the steam distribution lines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also found problems relating to safety and the plant accounting for large amounts of pollutants released into the air. A local engineering consulting firm performed a series of studies that ultimately determined the depot’s best option would be to replace the aging central boiler plant with a decentralized, natural-gas-fired network of boiler plants.
TYAD, however, was not eligible for funding grants to purchase the proposed boiler plants and had no source of funding for major repairs. This forced the facility to explore other options, which resulted in TYAD selecting an energy-savings performance contract (ESPC), a federal- and private-sector partnership under the terms of which the contractor provides capital to facilitate energy- savings projects and maintains them in exchange for a portion of the energy savings generated. In 1998 HEC, an energy service subsidiary of Northeast Utilities, was awarded a 22-year contract with TYAD. Under the terms of the ESPC contract, new decentralized heating systems were installed in all TYAD’s major buildings, along with 13 miles of high-pressure natural gas line. All distribution lines are now underground, and original steam lines have been abandoned due to Army environmental issues. HEC paid the initial cost of purchasing and installing new energy-efficient equipment and maintains the equipment, while the government pays $383,000 per month over the life of the contract. This savings in energy cost compensates the contractor for both installing the original equipment at a cost of approximately $30 million and maintaining it until 2022. After the contract expires, TYAD will take title of all new equipment.
In 2000 HEC was acquired by Select Energy, which was subsequently acquired by Ameresco in 2006. The company’s planned maintenance includes replacing or rebuilding 20% of the steam traps every year, with efficiency based on the quality of steam at the head of the boiler. With increasing natural gas costs, especially at the peak rate, Ameresco and TYAD are considering installing wind turbines and propane/air farms to offset excessive peak rates of natural gas. The propane/air farm has the potential to result in a one-year savings of approximately $100,000 versus purchasing natural gas at peak rates. TYAD would benefit by having a reliable heating system and boilers that can redirect heat to backfill other areas. The propane/air farm provides an option to switch from natural gas to propane, which would create a redundant system.
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