Maine is achieving energy savings in many tried-and-true ways – weatherization, fuel switching and installation of high efficiency light bulbs. But the state also is not afraid to explore the new and promising.
The Efficiency Maine Trust, an independent entity in charge of the state’s efficiency efforts, is test driving three up-and-coming technologies. These efforts follow a doubling of funding for Maine’s core programs. (See Part I of this two part series.)
Maine offers a good testing ground for the technologies because of its widespread installation of smart meters. The state’s two utilities, Bangor Hydro-Electric and Central Maine Power, have installed more than 700,000 smart meters. Now in almost all homes and businesses in the state, the meters permit more refined energy data collection and analysis.
FirstFuel Software is focusing on remote analytics for more than 100 commercial buildings in Maine. The Lexington, Mass. company identifies ways to save energy in a building without visiting the site – and it continues to monitor building performance the same way after efficiency improvements are made. Thus, it creates a way to analyze many buildings more quickly than traditional on-site methods.
Its pilot focuses on Maine’s K-12 schools, which FirstFuel says are ripe for 65 million kWh of savings annually. The schools now use 400 million kWh annually.
FirstFuel is screening buildings to find those with the greatest potential to save energy, undertaking remote energy audits, identifying projects, working with customers to make the changes, and then monitoring energy savings over time in the buildings.
Efficiency Maine may later expand the program to other kinds of commercial buildings.
Retroficiency, too, analyzes buildings from afar, and so is able to achieve a level of scale not available through on-site visits. The Boston company is using its advanced analytics in a pilot program for small and medium commercial buildings. Energy & Resource Solutions of Augusta is acting as partner.
Retroficiency begins with a ‘no touch’ virtual energy assessment, which prioritizes which buildings are prime candidates for energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits. The process uses only interval consumption data and property addresses at this stage.
Next, Retroficiency undertakes a quick, but comprehensive on-site audit of selected buildings. Installations and energy efficiency projects will follow. After the changes have been made in the buildings, Retroficiency tracks savings and re-evaluates buildings to determine if opportunities exist to achieve even greater efficiencies.
Energy & Resource Solutions is managing the process, recruiting customers, communicating opportunities, developing specific projects and working with local contractors. Two businesses that together own 40 buildings, East Brown Cow Property Management and Norway Savings Bank, kicked off the pilot. Others are being recruited.
Last, Ecobee is undertaking a pilot project designed to help small-to-medium-size businesses save energy and money with an energy management platform. The Ontario company is known for its mission to make energy management easier, particularly with its original product, a thermostat.
In Maine, Ecobee is partnering with Thayer Corporation and Electricity Maine. A select group of businesses receive a free Ecobee energy management system. Thayer Corporation replaces customer’s existing thermostats with an Ecobee thermostat called EMS SI, which is a programmable communicating unit that lets customers control their heating and cooling with a smart phone, tablet, or any browser.
The Ecobee pilot strives to help customers understand how they use energy. Customers with smart meters will be able to view energy usage data and reports so that they can take action to increase their savings.
Also see Part I of this two-part series, Rising Market: Maine’s Energy Efficiency Spending Doubles.