- Your News
By ANDREA AGARDY
The Tullahoma Utilities Board (TUB) is well-known for the power, water, sewer and LightTUBe services it provides to homes and businesses throughout Tullahoma. What may be less well-known is a service the utility offers to its commercial and industrial customers that can help their bottom lines.
TUB partners with the TVA to offer commercial and industrial customers an expert evaluation of their operations courtesy of the Comprehensive Service Program (CSP).
Through the program, TVA personnel, along with TUB employees, visit the customer’s location and perform a detailed analysis of the company’s operation and equipment, spotting trouble areas and compiling a list of recommendations the customer can implement to reduce energy costs and boost efficiency.
Services available through CSP include analyses focusing on power quality, metering and demand-side management. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), along with lighting studies are also available, as are energy audits, infrared scans to detect hot spots in electrical equipment or leaks in HVAC lines and ultrasonic testing, used to identify compressed air leaks in equipment.
“It’s a great program because we can offer customers experts that we don’t have in house,” said Brian Coate, manager of TUB’s electric and fiber departments. “They (TVA) can bring in engineers who specialize in the users’ equipment.”
More often than not, the CSP evaluations are performed at no cost to the customer. Brian Skelton, TUB’s general manager, said the utility splits the cost of completing the analysis with TVA, offering the service to industrial and commercial clients free of charge.
However, he added, there is a limit to the amount of funding TUB has available for CSP each year.
In the utility’s budget for fiscal year 2012, a total of $24,300 was earmarked for the program, and a similar amount has been included in the 2013 budget, which goes into effect on July 1.
Of that $24,300, TUB contributed $10,700, with the TVA funding the remaining $13,600. CSP visits are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis as long as funding is available. In the instance that there is not sufficient funding on hand to complete a CSP analysis, he said TUB is willing to consider splitting the cost with the business requesting the analysis. The cost of the evaluations varies from one business to the next, depending upon the services that are requested as well as the amount and types of equipment in use.
“It could be a cost share with the business depending upon the amount of funding available,” Skelton said.
While CSP evaluations are sometimes conducted after an industrial customer experiences a problem, Skelton said the majority of the time businesses call to sign up for CSP, they are looking for ways to reduce their costs.
“The driver has been energy savings,” Skelton said, adding that the TVA offers incentives to businesses that increase their energy efficiency and, as a result, decrease their expenses. The TVA is looking for ways to lower peak power demand, he explained, and the more users that are running efficient operations, the lower the demand for power.
Once all the studies have been completed, the TVA provides a report detailing the finding to TUB and the customer. Included in that report is a list of recommendations for changes or upgrades the customer can make to increase its efficiency. In the event the studies show a problem of TUB’s end of the equation, “we will fix it,” said Skelton.
“If we see a problem it’s on top of our list of things to fix,” said Ernie Hobbs, TUB’s communications and marketing specialist. “It could jeopardize the customer’s business, and we don’t want that.”
The number of evaluations performed each year varies, officials said. Some years TUB’s funding for the program varies from one year to the next. Some years, the funding TUB sets aside from the program is completely depleted, while the utility has, in other years, closed out its fiscal year with money remaining in that line item. So far this year, TUB has averaged one CSP evaluation a month.
TUB officials encouraged all of the utility’s nearly 1,000 commercial and industrial clients to take advantage of the expert advice offered by CSP.
“It’s a shame if we get to the end of the year and we haven’t spent all of it,” Coate said. “I’d rather have everyone request them than leave that money on the table.”
For more information about CSP, or to request a CSP evaluation, contact Ernie Hobbs at 455-4515.
Andrea Agardy can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.