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BECC hosts Energy Management Workshop

Posted on January 30, 2014

BECC hosts Energy Management Workshop

Local utility operators learn about cost-effective energy and water conservation methods

The Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) and the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 in coordination with the El Paso Water Utility (EPWU) held an Energy Management System Workshop, December 3 and 4. The workshop was geared for Water/Wastewater Utility Directors and Operations Managers and featured topics on energy management and energy efficiency as well as providing implementation strategies and benchmarking. The two-day workshop held at the TecH2O Center, in El Paso, TX, was kicked off by BECC General Manager Maria Elena Giner and EPWU CEO John E. Balliew, each explaining the impact of energy costs on utilities. 

“The water and wastewater sector has heavy consumption and high cost of energy, and associated greenhouse gas emissions. BECC, in alliance with federal and state agencies in Mexico and the US, and private companies/consultants, developed a program to provide a comprehensive and systematic methodology for identifying and implementing cost effective energy conservation and renewable energy projects,” said Giner. 

Representatives from EPA, Texas Water Development Board and New Mexico Finance Authority along with BECC staff provided information on funding for energy management projects and types of assessments.  The focus of the workshops was to illustrate how the Energy Management Program for Water/Wastewater Utilities can help agencies and municipal organizations addresses the following:
 - Reduce GHG emissions
- Reduce energy consumption
- Promote water conservation
- Displace energy from fossil fuel with renewable energy resources
- Make clean water more affordable by reducing energy costs
- Identify and facilitate access to funding sources 
- Build local technical capacity through technology transfer activities and training
- Record and measure results  

On the second day, participants toured the Bustamente Wastewater Treatment Plant.  

"The Energy Management workshop was extremely informative and well planned. The benefits of the workshop in my impression include: a diverse group allowing for positive exchange and feedback, the importance of benchmarking a positive tool that can be used for planning, comparisons, and increased efficiency. The wastewater treatment plant tour on the second day tied the data together providing the attendees with a tangible experience,” said Kathryn R. Hairston, El Paso County Ombudsperson, Office of the Secretary of State. “I can share the information with the rural water service providers I work with and ensure an energy component is included as we plan for future water and wastewater projects. I appreciate the partnership and look forward to the next workshop; I recommend this workshop be offered to the water service providers along the Texas border.”

“This has given me new insight as to what to look into for our district to work more efficiently which will results in savings.  I learned what improvements we need to make in order to lower our electrical costs and I appreciate that the workshop is done locally because with our limited budget it’s difficult to attend workshops out of town,” said Francella Vega, Business Manager for the El Paso County Tornillo Water Improvement District.

"It’s really valuable information that I can use and share with my clients. I learned how El Paso Electric can review designs free of charge and provide recommendations, or changes that would result in energy savings,” said Armanda Ramirez, Senior Construction Manager at Brown and Caldwell. 

As part of the Energy Management Program, the workshops along with energy and water audits developed by BECC help communities within the border area find ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. To date, BECC has conducted audits for wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) in Sunland Park, NM, La Mesa, NM, and Fabens, TX and in Mexico, audits were done for a WWTP in Rosarito, Baja California, wastewater facilities in Cd. Juarez, CHIH and for water facilities in Piedras Negras, Coahuila.  Currently under development are energy and water audits for Anthony, NM, Willcox and Douglas, AZ, Tijuana, Ensenada, Tecate and Mexicali, BC, San Luis Rio Colorado, Son and Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Rio Bravo, Matamoros, and Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas.  

The audits examine:
     -Energy usage by the existing facilities – energy usage by components such as motors, pumps, headworks, activated sludge, UV disinfection, lift stations, clarifiers, lighting, heating, cooling, etc.  
     -Historic Energy Usage – Costs and KWhrs used analysis of financial impact of current usage patterns
     -Recommended Conservation Measures – examples: efficient pumps, cycled operation of UV disinfection, automatic controls for lighting and aeration systems, energy management software
     -Renewable Energy Systems – examine the potential to add renewable energy systems to the treatment plant, examples: solar, wind, and methane gas harvesting
     -Financial impacts of the recommendations – capital costs, savings, and payback.

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