The City of Westminster, Colorado was like many other modest-sized municipalities when it came to handling utility bill expenses.
But Thomas Ochtera, Energy Coordinator for the City, set out to challenge many of the assumptions that contribute to wasteful spending in order to impact city budgeting, accounting processes, and most importantly, energy awareness.
Ochtera doesn’t put a lot of stock in expensive control systems for municipal buildings: “You can’t replace the technician going out,” he says flatly, “You physically have to go onsite and troubleshoot.” So why does Ochtera get excited about utility bill tracking with EnergyCAP energy management software? Because he believes raising energy awareness is as vital as energy management.
Prior to EnergyCAP, the City of Westminster lacked a coordinated energy plan. Utility bills were processed at the departmental level with little or no analysis—a process Ochtera described as “rubber stamping”. By the time the bills made it through the Accounts Payable (A/P) system, double-billing, and late payments and fees were frequent occurrences.
Utility budgets were adjusted across the board on a percentage basis. The municipality had never been able to provide comprehensive reporting on energy use. Without a measurement and reporting tool, energy awareness and management expectations were low. Annual utility budget increases were routinely tied to utility rate increases, perpetuating two common energy myths:
- Energy costs are a fixed overhead cost.
- Individuals cannot impact energy cost.
Ochtera set out to challenge both.
“Raising energy awareness is as vital as energy management,” says Ochtera. “The municipality is not in the business of making money, but I believe the business model applies. There are two mistakes that are often made—an assumption that the engineer who designed the building had energy management in mind.
"The second assumption is that there’s nothing that can be done about energy consumption.” Ochtera wants to challenge these faulty assumptions with energy information.
Using publicly-available RFPs, the City committee identified desirable software features, and eventually purchased EnergyCAP.
With EnergyCAP, the City of Westminster’s energy management program is paying off with more efficient and automated business processes and practices. Faulty assumptions about energy are being challenged and corrected. EnergyCAP at Westminster suggests that an active energy manager committed to using utility bill tracking as an integral part of an ongoing energy management initiative can realize short- and long-term energy savings.
Read more in the case study.