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A national role model for energy efficiency.

The Manhattan Veterans Affairs Medical Center on East 23rd Street has emerged as a national pacesetter in advanced energy management.

At 1,193,000 square feet, we require as much as 5.8 megawatts per year. At this size, we are today one of largest participants in the state's energy peak load reduction program.

New York's Independent System Operator (NYISO), the not-for-profit entity controlling the statewide energy grid, operates a peak load reduction program through which major users voluntarily reduce usage during peak summertime load periods. Users lower consumption or shift load to state-approved, back-up generators. These reductions reduce the risk of power interruptions for millions of New Yorkers.

As a leading participant, our center helps ensure energy reliability throughout the state. We promote America's energy self-sufficiency and national security, and that makes us especially pleased to play such an important role.

NYISO operates a "payment for performance" system. In essence, the Manhattan VA Medical Center agrees to reduce usage to pre-defined levels when notified by NYISO. This reduces demand on the grid and helps maintain normal electrical energy flow to users statewide.

NYISO reimburses participants who temporarily curtail consumption on short notice. Our payments equal approximately $100,000 annually.

The need for voluntary curtailments is great in New York City, a designated "load pocket." With limited capacity to import power, load pockets depend on energy generated within their boundaries.

Most peak load program participants use "either-or" back-up generators. One energy source can be used at a time. Brief service lapses can occur when switching from one source to another.

The Manhattan VA Medical Center back-up system, however, operates while remaining linked to the grid, minimizing disruption in our operations. Service continuity is particularly valuable in a medical setting like ours, where protection of patients and personnel is our number-one priority.

But we've gone further by transforming load management into a sophisticated, technology-driven system.

In 2000, the center instituted an innovative, remote monitoring system created by ConEdison Solutions (CES), an energy services company based in White Plains, New York. CES monitors our energy use from its Westchester headquarters, where full-time specialists track peak load projections. CES maintains minute-to-minute contact with grid operators during potential crisis periods.

Outsourcing allows us to participate in the peak load program with a high level of efficiency.

Program participants must carefully and continuously monitor consumption during peak load periods. Typically, participating entities devote considerable staffing and dollars to reading meters, documenting reductions and reporting to grid officials.

When the state is ready to reimburse participants for the energy they saved, reduction claims are usually substantiated through phone calls and the emailing and faxing of spreadsheets.

Because of this complex requirement, participants may not know usage or reimbursement levels for as long as two weeks after the crisis. Many view the complicated reporting process as a disincentive to participation in the program.

By contrast, the Manhattan VA Medical Center's monitoring and reporting system is highly streamlined.

CES remotely monitors participation on a nearly "real-time" basis. An automated process continuously collects readings from meters monitoring generator output.

The advanced system--developed with the help of grants from NYSERDA--eliminates the paperwork that discourages other entities from joining the peak load program, The automated approach saves personnel time and expenses, and expedites the receipt of state reimbursements. We receive detailed alerts if generators run below contracted levels.

This system can be emulated by institutions and other large-scale users nationwide, especially those located in states with peak load reduction programs.

In keeping with Federal Energy Management Program principles, the Manhattan VA Medical Center's energy management system recognizes that America's energy reliability is linked to national security. And energy security is especially critical in times like today.

We are proud of the successful program at the Manhattan VA Medical Center. Because of our success, the 1.1-million-square-foot Brooklyn VA Medical Center recently joined the CES remote energy management program. And we think our program ought to be duplicated by other entities throughout the state and the country.

By adopting forward-looking, energy management techniques, the Manhattan VA Medical Center--through its partnership with ConEdison Solutions--is helping to point the way to a more secure energy future for our nation.

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Title Annotation:Manhattan Veterans Affairs Medical Center; New York's Independent System Operator
Author:Walsh, James
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 11, 2004
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