In the Family Wellness maintenance room, Ely Mercil chats with Chad Brousseau and Chris Erickson about how the VFDs impacted the energy consumption and how he’s starting to see the reflection on the bill.
The cooperative difference in action
CCEC is #PROUDtoPOWER the YMCA & Family Wellness
Cass County Electric Cooperative (CCEC) operates as a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative, meaning we operate at cost. Any excess revenues, or margins, are returned to our members in the form of capital credits. We are vastly invested in the communities we serve, giving time, money, and expertise to build local economies. In fact, we have an entire team of business accounts professionals committed to helping our members save energy.
Why would we help members save when what we sell is energy? Being a member means you are part owner, and we want to provide you the best possible service at the best possible price. It pays to be a co-op member.
When we talk about benefits for businesses, energy efficiency is key. Energy efficiency is one of the best tools for decreasing power costs. Investing in energy efficiency can significantly benefit members, allowing them to spend less money on their power bills and focus on their mission.
“We want all of our member businesses to be successful. Suppose we can help them lower their energy costs by using energy wisely and efficiently. In that case, that can have a direct impact on their bottom line,” said Chad Brousseau, CCEC business accounts executive. “We are
here to serve as your trusted energy advisors.”
With more than 10 years of energy-savings experience, the vice president of buildings and grounds at the YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties, Ely Mercil, is no stranger to harnessing the benefits of energy-efficient tools and upgrades. Working at a not-for-profit community service organization, Mercil knows firsthand it’s hard to spend the money up front on upgrades—but when he shows the return on investment, it’s evident the change will be worth it.
“If you can save money every year by making a change and it lasts for many years, that makes a huge difference,” Mercil said. “It’s a no brainer.”
The YMCA received funding for the LED lighting project pictured on the following page through the North Dakota State Energy Program.
Working together, Brousseau and Mercil conducted an energy audit and were able to find measurable energy-efficiency upgrades at Schlossman YMCA and Family Wellness (Mercil currently manages both facilities). The halting factor of executing these upgrades was cost.
Businesses like the YMCA and Family Wellness find it essential to keep their operating costs down because it allows them to do more mission work in the community.
“Working with Cass County Electric has been very beneficial for me,” Mercil said with a smile on his face. “I’ve been very impressed with Chad ever since I first met him. He’s always available when I have questions.”
Small change with big impact
The YMCA embraces the hustle and bustle of energetic members utilizing their facility. But it’s harder to embrace the impact of a high energy bill – that’s where Brousseau stepped up. During an energy audit, Brousseau presented the potential energy savings the YMCA could employ if they use their generators during the summer. Before this discussion, the YMCA only participated in CCEC’s demand response program during the winter season since their generator was not large enough to handle the cooling load. Brousseau explained if the YMCA could manage their
summer demand and not overload the generator, the savings would be substantial, roughly $20,000 annually. Mercial set out making adjustments and adding controls to the current chillers to make the demand savings a reality.
Mercil’s long-term plan is to replace the second chiller (near its end of life) with an ice storage system. Ice storage is a good fit for CCEC’s demand response program. It allows business members to use their chillers to make ice during the off-peak hours and receive off-peak rates, with additional energy savings from making ice during the overnight hours when air temps are cooler.
Mercil continued the streak of lowering the building’s energy load with an LED lighting retrofit. Brousseau assisted the YMCA in applying for a grant through the State Energy Program, and they were awarded $50,000. The lighting project alone will save the YMCA roughly $12,700 annually.
Mercil is also exploring adding a future energy recovery unit to the YMCA’s ventilation system with initial savings estimates of ~ $7,000 annually.
The pool at Family Wellness generates big smiles on members’ faces, but it also generates a big energy bill. During the energy audit, Brousseau noticed the water valves were half closed. Mercil explained the pumps were moving too much water in the pools so they kept the valves partially closed. Brousseau recommended installing a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) and slowing the motors down, which in turn would also reduce the demand and energy usage. Upgrades like this have a ripple effect. Not only will Mercil be saving 50% on the pump’s energy costs, but he also expects to save on chemicals used in the pool along with filter and water savings.
“It is rewarding to see an energy-saving project come together and see it through from the initial planning stages to seeing the final result,” Brousseau said. “We are proud to empower our members and see the positive impact it can have on a member’s monthly electric statement.”
Members are at the heart of everything Cass County Electric does. As a member-owned electric cooperative, we are dedicated to helping you get the most out of your power. If your business has usage concerns or wants advice on where to begin with energy efficiency improvements, give our business accounts team a call at 701-356-4400.
Family Wellness VFD:
Completed February 2021
- Actual load - 12 kW
- $8,000 annual operating cost for pool pumps
- VFDs reduced load to 6 kW
- $4,000 annual operating cost for pool pumps
- 2-year payback
Schlossman YMCA lighting project:
Completed November 2020
State grant funding awarded
Annual energy savings
Schlossman YMCA chiller project:
Completed June 2020
- $20,000 estimated annual savings
- Chiller is on load control - the savings will result from participating in CCEC’s generator demand response program
Potential future projects:
- LED lighting in the pool area
- Energy recovery wheel for the air handlers
- Future ice storage to replace the aging second chiller (additional demand response)
Picture courtesy of YMCA. In the photo, the lights on the left are original and the lights on the right are the upgraded LEDs. You can see impact of higher lumens with less energy consumption.
We greatly value our connection to the members we serve. Follow us on social media to stay in-the-know on the latest energy-saving tips, community outreach efforts, power outages, cooperative news, promotions, and more!
Connect with us!