For decades, industrial, commercial, governmental and residential utility customers have been improving the energy efficiency and energy management of their facilities as a way to reduce their utility bills and improve the environment overall. In fact, several utilities have implemented various programs—some formal and some informal—to help their customers improve energy efficiency.
In a new twist, though, one utility has taken its own advice and has been taking steps to improve its own energy efficiency. For a number of years, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has been encouraging its customers to avail themselves of TVA’s EnergyRight program, which is a wide range of ideas that can help customers reduce energy usage by becoming more energy efficient.
In May 2018, personnel at TVA’s Magnolia Plant in Ashland, Miss., decided to use some of the ideas from EnergyRight to improve the energy efficiency and performance of their own plant. And, in so doing, it became the very first power plant in the nation to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as “50001 Ready.” It is a self-guided initiative to help facilities improve their energy management and efficiency efforts.
According to TVA’s press release, “TVA EnergyRight identified an opportunity to use this program as a self-guided approach to gain energy efficiencies at the TVA Magnolia plant. The teams worked together to identify potential energy efficiency opportunities.”
In addition to using its own EnergyRight initiatives, the plant teams partnered with the Industrial Assessment Center at Tennessee Tech University where professors and students identified and made recommendations for additional energy efficiency gains that could be achieved through capital improvements.
One of the first initiatives was to re-lamp the plant with LED bulbs. Others involved finding ways for the plant’s pumps and fans to run more efficiently, as well as finding ways to reduce the number of hours they operated.
“At the operational level, the teams asked whether they needed to run all of their pumps and all of their fans all of the time, especially when the plant was operating at lower power,” said Malinda Hunter, a TVA public relations spokesperson in its Chattanooga, Tenn. office. “In other words, they asked themselves what they could do to operate the plant more efficiently. They looked at all of the written procedures and realized that not all of them needed to be followed at all times, again, especially when the plant was being operated at reduced power.”
As a result, since May 2018, when the teams began their work, the plant has been able to save approximately 18 gigawatt hours of energy and nearly $1.2 million with no additional capital investment.
The results have been so impressive that TVA is in the process of rolling out similar initiatives in a number of its other plants.