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City's real-life power rangers take the stra in time of crisis.

When Louis Trimboli, senior real estate manager with CB Richard Ellis, checked the oscillating chart on his computer and saw the electricity consumed at 825 Third Avenue decreasing, he knew he had done his job right.

The building was among over 500 commercial properties across Manhattan whose managers responded to a "crisis event," called last week by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO)--the statewide non-profit organization that regulates electricity--when city temperatures spiked near 100 degrees Farenheight.

Managers implemented "demand response" action plans organized by one of a dozen privately owned consulting firms prior to the crisis to reduce power drawn directly from the state's electrical grid. Some plans required drastic measures such as switching large-scale chillers to emergency diesel generators, or to steam power from the steam line that runs underground below 96th street. Others acted simply by turning off one elevator, or by alternating the time of day air conditioners ran high.

Building managers acting collectively as part of demand response programs can potentially save over 1,000 megawatts of electricity per day, according to Ken Klapp, spokesperson for NYISO. This is enough electricity to power about 800,000 homes. During last Wednesday's event, demand response programs saved 266 megawatts from being pulled from the grid.

A typical one million square feet office building that can reduce power by one megawatt can collect up to $110,000 per year for participating in the demand response program--money split between the building owner and the energy management broker--and improve it's own bottom line savings. Electricity bills can run as high as $675 per megawatt when the grid is operating in high gear; a typical one million square feet building uses around 4.5 megawatts a day in heatwave conditions.

Trimboli is one manager who claims to regard the cold cash secondary to the responsibility they take to help neighbors weather the energy crisis. "If enough buildings in Manhattan save enough power, we could save an entire neighborhood in the Bronx, or in Queens, or in Staten Island from a blackout," Trimboli said.

Buildings having an alternative to electricity drawn from the power grid can be protected in the event of an emergency. "Steam, for instance, is an incremental option; it acts as a security valve for both the grid and the consumer. If they can chill their buildings with steam then it doesn't need to be pulled from the grid," said Richard Berger, vice president of marketing for ConsumerPowerline, one of the environmental management firms organizing demand response programs. "It is like having a car that can run on both gas and batteries. If there is a fuel shortage, they have an emergency option they can use."

Benefits of reducing power during times when the grid is taxed extend beyond preventing blackouts to the preservation of health and natural resources. The grid may draw energy to power the city from over 300 power plants across New York State. When the city operates with less power, not every plant needs to provide energy, and those that are used do not always operate at maximum capacity. On a sweltering day like last Wednesday, most, if not all of the plants are exploited at maximum capacity to power the city. These plants may include some of the so called "dirty power plants," that utilize fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas and are only 30 percent efficient. These older plants harm both the environment and the consumer's wallet by burning significantly more fuel than the more modern combined-cycle plants that utilize a combination of gas and steam turbines and are over 50 percent efficient.

Eventually, if all of the power plant's juice is tapped, the state may be required to build additional plants, further exhausting the city's resources.

Any building over 250,000 s/f, from a Class A office tower to a residential complex like Co-op City in the Bronx, can register for the demand response program. And once they jump on board, many find they cannot help but continue their conservation work.

In the case of 825 Third Avenue, the generator is switched on as an emergency measure but also as part of an overall system the building managers use to conserve energy every day. The computer system called the Energy Dashboard made available to Louis Trimboli when the building signed up with Consumer PowerLine allows him to monitor his entire building in real time from an electrical perspective, and helps gauge the impact of different energy management strategies. "We rehearse for crisis alerts and practice how we would utilize our emergency methods," Trimboli said. "We are deeply committed to energy conservation. We are constantly reevaluating our programs, our plans, and seeing if we can make it better. We talk about it all the time. There are measures we take on an ongoing basis. We have made energy conservation a top priority."
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Title Annotation:Louis Trimboli of CB Richard Ellis Inc. uses energy conservation strategies at buildings
Author:Wolffe, Danielle
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Aug 9, 2006
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