ERWSD sees big savings in energy pilot program

District reducing energy use and costs through innovative Holy Cross Energy partnership


The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District saved nearly $19,000 in 2019 while taking part in a peak time rebate pilot program through Holy Cross Energy (HCE). The program, which aims to reduce electric demand during periods of high demand on HCE’s distribution system, was first offered to 20 of HCE’s larger electric consumers in summer 2019. The district was the first organization to participate in the program.


Peak electrical demand means peak prices for both HCE and its members. This pilot program focuses on reducing peak demand instead of increasing overall power generation. The district’s participation in the program is the latest example of its commitment to continual progress in making its operations more environmentally and financially sustainable.


How the program works
When HCE anticipates that a system peak may occur, it contacts the district; water and wastewater treatment facility operators then determine if a temporary reduction in electrical use is feasible given the current conditions. Such temporary decreases help reduce HCE’s overall load and may avoid peak prices. So far, each temporary reduction event has lasted less than four hours and has come with at least 24 hours of notice.


HCE then pays a bill credit of either $0.50 or $1.00 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for each kWh of actual reduction in consumption during each event, depending on how critical the event is. The actual reduction is calculated by HCE, using the district’s baseline consumption for that time period.


Program successes
The district participated in 18 events from July to December 2019. District water and wastewater treatment facility operators were able to temporarily decrease electrical consumption by 60% on average during these events, for a total 2019 rebate amount of $18,750 from HCE. The district also realized additional cost savings by its facilities using less power than during a normal billing cycle.


These savings successes require high levels of operator attention and skill. An operator must closely supervise the facility for treatment process concerns during any temporary power reduction.


Given the pilot program’s success, HCE will offer the peak time rebate program to all its members in April.


District sustainability
The district’s participation in the peak time rebate pilot program joins a growing list of sustainability efforts for the local government. The district board of directors approved a commitment to 100% renewable electricity for all facilities at the beginning of 2019 through HCE’s PuRE program. The district achieves this by purchasing renewable energy credits from HCE, which offset all electricity used and balance out the greenhouse gas emissions produced by operations. The district’s commitment is driven largely by the fact that increasing carbon emissions are warming the climate, which negatively affects water resources that the district relies on to serve its customers from East Vail to Edwards.


In November 2019, the district received the Climate Impact Award at the Actively Green awards ceremony for its efforts in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 54 metric tons by that point in 2019 . This decrease resulted from the energy savings mentioned above, along with initiatives like the district’s comprehensive waste diversion program and its hybrid and electric vehicle fleet.