Energy efficiency pushed in Juneau

March 9, 2018 GMT

JUNEAU — “The city could lead by example.”

That was the tone of Monday night’s Juneau Utility Commission discussion of potential energy-efficiency upgrades at city and utility structures.

Eric Kostecki, manager of customer-project support for WPPI Energy, shared a brief survey of electric consumption by major, city owned systems. WPPI and the Juneau Utilities continually encourage customers to conserve power and Kostecki said financial incentives from the state and WPPI may be available to help the utilities themselves join in the effort.

Specifically, Kostecki’s figures looked at pumps and machinery operated by the Juneau Water/Wastewater Department.

“The wastewater-treatment plant accounts for 70 percent of all utility usage; the plant’s the big driver,” Kostecki said.

Although annual electric consumption at the treatment plant dropped, annual electric-power costs rose from $45,467 in 2013 to $52,976 last year.

Second on Kostecki’s list of utility electric users were pumps at the three wells employed by Juneau’s water system.

Total electric consumption for water pumping in 2013 was 131,648 Kwh, at a cost of $10,477, compared to 117,300 Kwh at $15,622 last year, Kostecki said.

When consumption by offices, lights and the Juneau water tower were added, Kostecki said utility-wide totals came to 852,332 Kwh at $65,216 in 2013, compared to 787,307 Kwh at $75,888 in 2017.

Kostecki noted improvements already were underway with WPPI’s help at the Juneau Public Library, where energy-efficient lighting is slated to be installed.

Kelvin Schlagel, Juneau’s electric utility superintendent, said Monday night the high-pressure-sodium streetlights that have lined Juneau’s streets for decades are being replaced with more efficient, light-emitting diode fixtures.

“We change five or six fixture heads per year,” Schlagel said.

“The cost of high-pressure-sodium replacement makes them no longer prudent. The cost difference between sodium and LED lights is about $20,” he said. “The maintenance on LED fixtures goes way down.”

Juneau Water/Wastewater Superintendent Tim Hayden observed efficiency upgrades could be incorporated into future expansion of the wastewater-treatment plant.

“Tim says the plant is at capacity,” Kostecki said. “We may have the opportunity to look at expansion and energy efficiency at the same time.”

He suggested a joint energy management resolution between the utility commission and the Juneau City Council as a first step, followed by a detailed energy audit.