Energy contracts help sites achieve savings, sustainability

Posted: July 9, 2015 - 4:16pm

Typical mortgage loans, however, allow borrowers to purchase a home without paying the full cost upfront. In a similar manner, energy savings performance contracts, or ESPCs, allow Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, to complete projects at Pantex and Y-12 that improve energy efficiency and support infrastructure renewal and reliability without upfront capital.

During the past few years, the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office has partnered with two energy service companies on ESPCs at Pantex and Y-12 as part of an enterprise-wide initiative to improve energy efficiency and revitalize site infrastructure.

Senior Director of Infrastructure and Projects Management Dan Glenn said, “The energy service company puts up the capital to do the work, and we pay them back through the energy savings gained over the term of the contract.”

At Pantex, an ESPC with Siemens Government Technologies Inc. has enabled the plant to harness the power of wind energy with the installation of five 2.3-megawatt wind turbines capable of producing approximately 47 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

During installation of the wind turbines, Infrastructure and Projects Management worked with Pantex Engineering to address a concern about possible voltage fluctuations affecting the plant’s sensitive equipment. The solution was to install a power quality meter to monitor the specific output of the wind farm. The 426-foot-tall turbines can generate enough energy cost-savings to pay for the project and later provide additional cost savings directly to Pantex. In the month of May, the wind farm produced 4,022,647 kWh, which was 66% of the plant’s total energy consumption.

At Y-12, the ESPC projects, managed by Johnson Controls, Inc., are having noticeable impact on the utility infrastructure, as well as the site’s energy efficiency.

“We wouldn’t have the budget to do this work at Y-12 without an ESPC. More money becomes available because it is tied to energy savings. We try to leverage all funding opportunities to improve the infrastructure to make it more reliable and reduce the maintenance needs of the site,” Glenn said.

Currently, there are five main projects at different stages of progress, including the chiller plant upgrade, steam system decentralization, lighting upgrades, a new compressed air facility and steam system repairs. The upfront capital for these projects is funded by JCI; however, Y-12 is responsible for support costs, including activities such as lock out/tag out, utility surveys and engineering drawing review. Providing support funding and coordinating activities to lessen the impact to mission work and schedule are some of the challenges that come with ESPCs.

“These projects improve plant reliability, operational efficiency and infrastructure, and eliminate a significant amount of deferred maintenance. We invest our funds into the support costs for the ESPCs because we know of the bigger benefit to the site,” Glenn said.

“Improving energy efficiency and revitalizing the infrastructure is an enterprise-wide initiative, and we’ll continue to leverage ESPCs to help achieve our sustainability goal.”

The five main energy savings performance contract projects underway at Y-12 are described below.
  • Upon completion this summer, the chiller plant upgrade project at Building 9767-10 will provide greater energy efficiency and reliability to the system that provides chilled water for air conditioning, dehumidification, and process water. The dilapidated wooden cooling towers are being replaced with modern, high-efficiency towers, and three new chillers have been installed. As part of the upgrades, the number of pumps was reduced by half, resulting in a savings of 10,747 MWh annually.
  • The steam system decentralization project involves running over 13,000 feet of new natural gas lines to nine facilities on the east and west ends of the Y-12 site. Work on the east end is complete; work on the west end is ongoing. Conversion from steam to natural gas will allow steam lines to be cut off, thus reducing the steam distribution footprint, associated maintenance, and demand on the central steam plant. This project will generate an annual savings of 149,733 MBtu of natural gas.
  • The lighting upgrades project is also making steady progress. When completed, 34,000 lights will have new energy-efficient fixtures. So far, over 18,600 outdated, unreliable light fixtures have been replaced in production and nonproduction facilities. Completion is scheduled for September 2016.
  • A new compressed air facility is being installed on the site’s east end adjacent to the steam plant and will help ensure steam plant reliability, thus supporting the production facilities’ critical missions. The facility will include a state-of-the-art Utilities Operator Control room where six chilled water plants, steam production, and other facilities can be monitored. It is scheduled to be operational by fall 2015.
  • Steam system repairs are being made to steam valves, steam lines, and pressure-reducing stations. Improvements to the steam and condensate system will provide energy savings and increase reliability.