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Toward Utility Integration

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 13:22

Representatives from the New York Power Authority pitched the East Hampton Town Board on the New York Energy Manager utility bill integration platform on Tuesday. The subscription service, which allows users to access and view usage and billing data for all utility accounts in one place, is of interest to town officials in part as a tool for identifying and implementing energy saving measures.

NYPA is a state authority charged with managing and maintaining state-owned electricity generation assets. It is also tasked with leading the state's transition to carbon-free electricity, including helping the public sector implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Buildings account for around 30 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. East Hampton owns and manages more than 100 buildings and has 85 utility accounts.

"Taking action toward reducing energy consumption and costs starts with understanding how a building uses energy," said Lauren Steinberg, a senior environmental analyst with the town's Natural Resources Department.

The utility bill integration, or U.B.I., platform offers a way to more carefully manage energy, according to Tim Rose and Jeff Laino of NYPA, by analyzing trends in consumption to pinpoint implementation of energy saving measures. It was also pitched as a time and cost-saving device, by automating the input of data.

The platform offers energy and sustainability dashboards, energy management by property, budgeting and forecasting, peak load and sustainability management, and benchmarking, a method used to determine whether a building is using more or less energy than those of similar occupancy, size, and climate.

The town did make an effort to benchmark "major" buildings' energy use, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said, "but I believe we had a limit as to the square-foot size of each structure that we were going to benchmark." The U.B.I. "would streamline all of the additional accounts, and that benchmarking could be completed on every town building that has an energy account. We could manage that usage from that initial benchmarking to further reduce our consumption across the board."

"I think we'll be able to look at this," Ms. Steinberg told the board, "and see which buildings are using the most energy, where can we implement changes through maybe updating HVAC equipment, or maybe making behavioral changes to try and bring that consumption down."

Mr. Laino said that a proposal to implement the program for two years had been shared with the board and Ms. Steinberg, at a first-year cost of $7,965 as the system is built and town officials are trained to use it. The price would fall to $5,465 in its second year.

"This is very much in line" with the board's declaration of a climate emergency, adopted by resolution last month, Mr. Van Scoyoc said, "where we're going to take into account every possible way that we can address the reduction of fossil-fuel use, and energy use in general, in order to promote a cleaner and more efficient environment."

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