DOE Failing to Conserve Energy in Own Buildings
Internal audit points to $6.6 million in lost savings at DOE facilities
Despite its moniker, a new report shows that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is not as efficient with its electricity as it could be, with millions of dollars in potential savings lost last year due to the department’s failure to implement simple measures intended to reduce electricity use.
The report, issued following a DOE Inspector General audit of five sites managed by the DOE, found that the department “had not always pursued readily available, low-cost energy saving opportunities,” leading to a lost opportunity for savings of $6.6 million. Citing a lack of thorough inspections of heating and lighting systems along with meters that do not monitor electricity use in real-time, the report urges the DOE to take a “more aggressive energy conservation” approach with a particular focus on “low- and no-cost, quick payback measures.”
The five sites inspected include national DOE laboratories in Brookhaven, Los Alamos, Oakridge, Sandia and the Y-12 National Security Complex; the DOE’s total energy bill last year totaled $277 million across its 47 major facilities.
For its part, officials within the DOE itself blamed the lack of efficiency on its inability to access the resources needed to perform evaluations and billing practices that did not take energy efficiency into account when prioritizing services.
“Site officials told us that given the constrained budget environment, it was often difficult to balance mission critical needs with implementing energy conservation measures,” the report reads. “We recognize there are costs associated with evaluating facilities and implementing metering projects; however, we believe it is important for sites to prioritize projects with rapid payback periods and little or no required upfront investment.”
Representing only one in a series of audits of the DOE’s energy conservation practices, the findings of this report are intended to help the department to meet the goal of reducing overall energy consumption by 30 percent before the beginning of fiscal 2015.