To Audit or Not to Audit Treatment Plants?

Posted by Ed Pietroski on Thursday, January 23, 2020

WWTP & Energy Meter graphic

THAT is a good question.

An article, "New Hampshire Operators Drive Energy Costs Down With Audits and Incentives" in Treatment Plant Operator (TPO) magazine featuring Sharon Nall, PE, of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, has me thinking about this question regarding energy audits.

It’s a good idea, right? The article chronicles the success and savings that New Hampshire treatment plants are achieving from the various programs and incentives offered in their state. So Pennsylvania water and wastewater treatment plants should conduct their own energy audits, perform upgrades, and enjoy all of the energy savings too. Well not so fast… perhaps.

The energy market in NH is very different than here in PA. According to Choose Energy, NH’s average price for a kWh was 44.1% higher than in PA for 2019. With each kWh costing more, it’s easy to see how reducing kWhs can translate quickly to the bottom line in NH, but here in PA, while you might see the same kWh reduction, it might not impact your bottom line as much as anticipated. It is important to understand that a 20% reduction in kWhs does not mean a 20% reduction in your energy bill, due to the kW demand charges, customer fees, taxes, and other non-energy costs that account for a portion of an energy bill.

While there is no simple way to determine if an audit will lead to benefits for your plant or not, the article raises awareness and provides examples of low hanging fruit to start with at your plant, such as:

  • Right-sizing equipment
  • Dissolved oxygen (DO) monitoring and controls
  • Generator block heater controls
  • Heating of uninsulated buildings
  • Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) pumps
  • Security lighting at night

Sharon Nall further explains, "On the 35 audits completed, we have averaged about 29% potential energy savings and a three-year payback."

Read the article yourself, discuss these ideas with your staff, talk with your engineer about energy usage when planning upgrades, and if you need help, please reach out! Entech began as an energy firm decades ago, and loves saving clients money.


I'm also a perennial speaker at the Pennsylvania Rural Water Association's Annual Conference, and this year I will be teaching a class, Friday morning, (3/27/20) on Energy in Water and Wastewater Treatment.

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Ed Pietroski, PE

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Categories: Municipal Infrastructure

Tagged: Potable Water  |  Wastewater  |  Energy Planning & Management  |  Environmental  |  Budgeting & Funding  |  Engineering

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