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 of Westminster, 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.