Most commercial building owners and managers presumably may not include energy
management as a core competency. If you don't have such a staff position, it
might be time to consider if you should be adding this function to your organization
through a consulting engagement. Here are some suggestions for handling energy
issues from Rick Lubinski, certified energy manager, certified demand side management
professional, certified energy management systems contractor, and President
of ThinkEnergyManagement, LLC (http://www.think-energy.net).
The key question is how much risk you want in your utility budgets. In deregulated
states, the risk should be put on competing suppliers as much as possible by
getting commodity quotes based on a) fixed cost with all charges and expenses
included, b) leaning towards long term contracts and c) doing business only
with major suppliers with financial strength and a record of excellent customer
service. As with Wall Street, energy commodity markets are not for amateurs.
Billions can be lost trying to predict electric futures after so many years
of controlled monopoly pricing.
After the commodity supply issues are put to rest, you can focus on demand side
opportunities. The first step is to select an experienced and well respected
energy consultant to help guide you through the energy equation by conducting
an energy audit and recommending cost effective improvements. Look for a professional
with CEM certification by an organization like the Association of Energy Engineers
(www.aeecenter.org). Be sure your energy consultant is truly independent of
specific products, services, and energy type. Be wary of any consultant who
claims to know what you need without evaluating your needs and opportunities.
The crucial test is determining if the energy consultant is focused on your
needs and not his/hers. The bottom line is finding an energy consultant or ESCO
(remember them?) who has a track record for producing real utility savings in