As many commercial and industrial companies adjust operations and modify workspaces and employee roles in response to COVID-19 public health requirements, opportunities for facility improvements offer potential for long-term cost savings. While the health and safety of employees remains paramount, businesses are looking at ways to use Connecticut energy efficiency tools and financial assistance to support upgrades that can lower their bills and streamline their operations.
United Illuminating (UI), Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG) and Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG), subsidiaries of AVANGRID, Inc., continue working with commercial and industrial customers to customize efficiency solutions. Limited on-site staffing and social distancing requirements provide a unique scenario for customers to implement energy-efficient improvements without disturbing employees. In some cases, split shifts or production slow-downs allow for upgrades to be made with little hindrance of operations.
Business owners and facilities managers can work with UI, SCG and CNG engineers to safely and effectively start new programs or continue efforts already underway. Engineers have expertise in performing minimal-contact assessments or remote assessments of systems, such as lighting, lighting controls, motors and drives, gas heating equipment, cooling, energy management systems, gas water heating, heating, insulation, gas conversion, refrigeration and process equipment.
“We continue to use our safety protocols and new pandemic guidelines when coordinating with energy engineers or contractors working on site so that there is minimal contact with staff,” said Mike Stein, facilities energy manager at Sikorsky. “We still have energy conservation deadlines and commitments, projects which were approved last year, and must move forward in order to reach our company’s Go Green initiatives. We will also continue to explore additional green funding opportunities with UI for 2021.”
Customers including Sikorsky, Westville Music Bowl of New Haven, Bridgeport Board of Education and RD Scinto of Shelton have focused on both indoor and outdoor lighting and lighting control projects. The outdoor projects allowed customers to have a contactless experience or leverage their own facility staff to manage the proper install of new equipment. Other indoor projects were managed around schedules and shifts to minimize contact and maintain the safety of all parties.
“We have safely continued making energy efficiency and lighting upgrades at our new outdoor venue at Westville Music Bowl in New Haven. We were able to accomplish this project during these challenging times because of the assistance from the team of rock stars at UI,” said a spokesperson for the venue operator NHCPA Outdoors LLC. “Once current restrictions are lifted, these upgrades to our facilities will provide energy savings as well as a better customer experience.”
Municipalities and school districts have also utilized this time of closures as an opportunity to perform energy-efficiency measures. Bridgeport Public Schools, with minimal activity on campus and largely empty parking lots, have effectively upgraded outdoor lighting to energy-efficient LED fixtures. Even during typical summer months, these upgrades would have been more cumbersome to accomplish with daily school activity.
Funds to support these initiatives are still available through Energize Connecticut for energy cost savings, facility upgrades and various improvement projects.
“Energy-efficiency incentives can be the positive factor that moves customers forward in making improvements, and our engineers are available to safely provide the guidance they need to maximize opportunities,” said Liz Murphy, supervisor at AVANGRID, Inc. “These programs offer cost-savings solutions for businesses as they assess long-term impacts and needs stemming from COVID-19.”
UI, SCG and CNG remain committed to the safety of customers, contractors and staff while continuing to help customers achieve their energy goals. For more information about available incentives, customers are encouraged to call 877-WISE USE (877-947-3873) or contact their utility representative.
Additionally, businesses should review their modified energy needs and assess opportunities to adjust usage for cost savings. The Energy Analyzer through UI is just one of the many tools that can be found at www.uinet.com.