If you’ve ever been frustrated while trying to figure out what may have caused a change in the amount of a home utility bill, consider that Clarke County government pays the monthly energy costs for 57 separate electric meters. The County also provides gasoline and diesel fuel for a small fleet of government-owned cars and trucks – as well as a school bus fleet – and burns large amounts of liquid propane and natural gas to heat County buildings. Then, of course, there’s the water bill to pay.
Simply making sure that the utility companies have charged the County the correct amount for the monthly billing cycle consumes hours of staff time. While comparing one month’s electricity usage over a previous month, or the same period a year ago, could, arguably, reveal potential areas for energy savings, the expertise and time to do so just isn’t a luxury that Clarke County could afford.
“I felt like I didn’t have the expertise to do the kinds of comparisons and analysis that we needed to really manage our energy consumption,” Environmental Planner Alison Teetor told the Clarke County Board of Supervisors on Monday.
Teetor said Planet Footprint, an Australian firm that analyzes utility bill data and then provides monthly reports designed to help manage energy, may offer just the kind of assistance that the County needs.
“They’ve looked at the last six quarters of our electricity use and have given us a pretty complete picture,” Teetor said. “I think that they’ve given us an excellent product so far.”
According to Planet Footprint’s website, the company claims that it is the world’s only “full-service independent energy and environmental scorekeeper”. Planet Footprint also says that it serves over 200 local governments, 1,600 schools, several state government departments and has partnerships with over 100 energy and water utilities and retailers.
As part of its annual service, which costs Clarke County $1,500 a year, Planet Footprint provides a wealth of reports including the County’s seasonal energy mix changes, energy use comparisons with other governments, standalone comparisons and anomaly reports.
Teetor’s presentation of electrical usage anomalies sparked the interest of several Supervisors.
|Location||Period||Consumption (kWh)||Previous Consumption (kWh)||Increase (%)||Increase (kWh)|
|Rec Center – Front Concession Stand||Oct – Dec 2011||3,204||960||234%||2244|
|Spring House||Oct – Dec 2011||12,674||10,526||20%||2,148|
|Rec Center – Soccer Field||Apr – Jun 2011||728||46||1,488%||682|
|Rec Center – Soccer Field||Oct – Dec 2011||433||46||834%||387|
|Swimming Pool||Oct – Dec 2011||651||326||100%||326|
Clarke County Energy Usage Anomaly Report
“Do they look at the increase in a particular energy use cost and tell us ‘Why’ it increased?” asked Supervisor Bev McKay (White Post).
“That’s the next step,” Teetor replied. “We have to assign a person here on our end to a particular set of meters and find out specifically what caused the increase.”
Teetor said that currently Planet Footprint only tracks Clarke County electricity spending but, based on the value of the reports received so far, she hopes to soon expand the service to cover all of the County’s utilities and energy consumption including natural gas, liquid propane and water.
“By next quarter I hope to be able to provide more specific energy consumption information for specific buildings,” Teetor said. “I think that we also need to investigate whether the Clarke County Public Schools could use the service.”
Clarke County Supervisors Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) agreed.
“It’s important that Dr. Murphy know about this service,” Hobert said.