"Simplure not only reduced our power bill by 14% but our motors are also lasting much longer."

Randy Marriott Marriott Rock Products

Frequently Asked Questions

Demand is generally defined to be a measure of the highest amount of power that the power utility must provide to your business to cover the high amperage draws required to start and run motors and other devices. Often those high amperage draws are very short in duration (as in the "in-rush" required to start a motor under load) and can be referred to as "peak demand spikes." Using Rocky Mountain Power as an example; for billing purposes, the billing period is broken up into 15 minute segments. The average of the three highest demand spikes in each 15 minute segment is logged, and at the end of the billing period, the segment with the highest average is used to calculate your demand charge. The rate for kilowatts of demand is typically much higher than the rate for kilowatt-hours of energy usage; therefore, significant savings on your power bill can be achieved from small reductions in demand.

Power factor is a measure of power efficiency and is expressed as a number between 0 and 1 or as a percentage where 1 or 100% is ideal. Mathematically, it is an expression of the phase angle between the voltage and the amperage. When they are perfectly in phase, the power factor is 1.0 or 100%. As they slip out of phase, the power factor goes down and the power provider must supply more power in order to achieve the same amount of work. In other words, efficiency goes down. The normal operation of motors will cause the power factor to drop and will, in turn, force your motors to draw more amperage in order to maintain the same level of power. At 80% power factor, your motors require 25% more amperage to produce the same amount of work. This inefficiency will be expressed in increased heat in your lines and in the motor windings. Heat shortens equipment life and increases your operational costs. Additionally, most power utility companies charge penalties for power factor measurements under some percentage (usually 90%).

Simplure has been consistently successful at raising the power factor at customer facilities to over 98%.

Commercial / industrial power bills are typically affected by a number of issues. Some of those issues are beyond your control but there are some things you can look at when attempting to decrease your bill. For example, the factors that originally determined your rate schedule might have changed and it is sometimes possible to save some money by applying for a rate schedule change.

More typically, however, there are three billing categories over which you can have some control.

1. Total power usage expressed in Kwh: This can be reduced by updating to more efficient equipment and by turning equipment off when it is not needed. This is the most common target of energy saving efforts.

2. Peak demand usage expressed in Kw: This often makes up the largest part of your bill and can often be reduced by scheduling equipment startups at carefully planned intervals.

3. When your power factor drops below a certain percentage, penalties will be applied to your bill. If you can improve your power factor to a higher percentage, you can eliminate those penalties and run more efficiently.   

Your total power usage or Kwh used is a measure of the power you use in your daily operations. You can reduce this number by turning off equipment when it is not needed, by planning operations so that equipment is used more efficiently, or by installing equipment that uses less power to accomplish the desired task. Also, since Kwh units are usually billed at a lower rate during off-peak times, you might be able to reduce your bill by moving some of the high power consumption tasks to those off-peak times (usually nights and week-ends). Running during off-peak times, however, generally results in higher payroll costs so a careful savings/cost analysis should be performed before making schedule changes.

Harmonics are A/C currents in your system that are operating in harmonic multiples of the 60 Hz currents supplied by the power company. For example, a third harmonic creates currents at 180 Hz while a 5th harmonic creates currents at 300 Hz. At best, your equipment is not designed to operate at these frequencies so the energy present in these harmonics is wasted. At worst, harmonics can create signals that confuse computerized controllers causing unreliable operation or even damage at the circuit level. Some symptoms of high harmonic levels include overheating in wiring, early failure of capacitors, unexplained intermittent breaker trips, equipment malfunctions, VFD failures, and early failure of electric motors.

Some of the common sources of harmonics are switching power supplies, electronic ballasts in overhead lighting, UPS systems, VFD's and DC motors - specifically the kinds of devices that are now being widely deployed to improve efficiency!

Electrical equipment is engineered to run within certain parameters. Voltages, amperages, power factor, and total harmonic distortion all need to fall within the design parameters of the equipment in order for that equipment to run efficiently. Power quality is a measure of how closely the power parameters match the design specifications of your equipment, and the life of your equipment depends on the level to which power quality is maintained. Small drops in power quality might have little effect on your equipment, but when those drops grow beyond certain limits, the effect can be dramatic.  Motor life can be reduced to a fraction of normal and the impact on expensive electronic devices can be even more damaging.

In short, the expense of power quality improvement is generally a fraction of the alternative.

 

Most of the information we need will be acquired through our energy analysis process. We will need you to provide us with access for analysis purposes and we will need someone with knowledge of the facility to accompany us during the walk-through. We will also need to review copies of your power bills for the prior 12-month period in order to analyze your billing patterns and to establish a baseline. 

All information that you provide to us will be held in the strictest confidence. We use the information to perform our analyses and to provide a baseline for future reviews. We will not share the information with any other party without your express written permission.

Our technicians will need access to your main electrical panels and the subpanels that feed major functions. They will attach metering equipment on their first visit and then will need follow-up access to remove that equipment at the end of the analysis period. Additionally, they will need to do a "walk-through" assessment of the electrical systems layout in your facility. If you have one, a "one-line" drawing of your electrical system can be quite helpful at this stage.

If power quality correction systems are later installed, we will again need access to the main electrical panels where our systems will be installed. This would be discussed and approved at such time as our proposal to you is accepted.

We gather extensive information about the power in your facility. Among other things, we monitor voltages, amperages, load balance information, phase angles, and harmonics throughout a 24-hour period so we can see what is going on during each of your shifts and during the off hours. All of the metered information is presented in detailed graphs that we will review with you when we present our report of the audit results. We will be able to determine how major loads are affecting your power and how different elements of your system interact with one another.

In short, we will learn everything we need to know to engineer and implement effective power quality systems at your facility.

Not necessarily. We are able to hook our meters to your system without shutting down the power or interrupting your electrical service in any way. If you have specific company policies limiting access to "live" electrical panels, however, our technicians will follow those policies.

Your savings will depend on a number of factors. The current state of your power quality, the percentage of your electricity usage that goes to inductive loads, the number and magnitude of linear and non-linear loads, the percentage of total harmonic distortion, load levels and balancing, system layout and startup procedures are all factors that play into the savings. Where poor power quality is affecting equipment reliability and life, the greatest savings might be in downtime, maintenance and replacement costs. Generally, however, our goal is to provide an ROI in 18 to 36 months. After we do the preliminary power quality analysis, we can provide a savings estimate based on your unique circumstances. 

The components of the Simplure system are wired in parallel with your wiring and only require that the power be shut down for a short period of time while the appropriate breakers are installed. This can usually be accomplished during regularly scheduled shut-down periods.