Saturday, September 15, 2012


Before Accepting an Energy Manager Position

Hopefully, you have already read "What Does an Energy Manager Do." The employer will probably ask you some probing questions. What will you ask them? Here's what I suggest:

1. What are the organization’s reasons for wanting energy management?
Does top management perceive energy as a resource or as a cost of doing business? Do they want to save money, improve productivity, or create a green market image? These are all good reasons, but each option represents a completely different strategy. Each option has different implications for using time and money. You have your vision, management has theirs—you may have to meet in the middle.

2. What does the organization expect energy management to entail?
What does the term “energy management” mean to the person in front of you? Is it shopping for the best electricity price? Or does it mean reminding staff to turn off applications not in use? Is it a preventative maintenance discipline? Or is it a series of capital projects for adopting new and improved technologies? Energy management is not one of these things, but all of them, orchestrated by a business plan. Part of your job is to educate your colleagues and agree on the right mix of these activities over time.

3. To what department will you belong?
Your job effectiveness depends in part on where you reside in the organization. Energy is most closely related to a Facilities, Maintenance, or Engineering department. If you are not being hired by one of these departments, then where? Does Facilities know that an energy manager is being hired? If you are not with Facilities, then what authority or recourse will you have to influence Facilities’ priorities, budgets, or staff allocations?

4. Will you have a staff and a budget?
What resources will be specifically at your disposal? If you have no resources, then you will have to influence other people to do what you want. Will other managers be responsive to your efforts? How will top management support you in this endeavor?

5. What tools are at your disposal?
Energy management depends on data. Data comes from metering systems and special-purpose sensors, probes, scopes, data loggers, and other devices. Data handling requires software. You can get by for a while with a spreadsheet. But if you multiple utility accounts, or if you anticipate using information technologies for real-time performance monitoring, you’ll need special-purpose energy software. If you are looking at replacing or upgrading assets, you’ll need engineering help, either internally or from a consultant. You’ll need to extract information from the data and present your findings to people who are not always technical. This requires additional software and presentation equipment.

6. What protocols does the organization have for managing change?
Energy improvements are the result of changes in habits, procedures, budget priorities, and asset management. Half of the energy manager’s job is to manage change as it impacts the balance of the organization. Changes will impact other managers who have no interest in energy. How does the organization manage change? Does it employ six sigma, kaizen, or other continuous improvement disciplines? If there are no change management protocols, the energy manager will be inventing these on the spot.

7. Against what departmental budgets will costs and savings be applied?
The budget question is two-sided. On one hand, it will cost money to make improvements. From which director’s budget will the money come? The flip side: to which department’s budget will the energy savings accrue? The organization needs to have some preliminary answers to these questions before putting an energy manager to work.

8. Will you have visible support from at or near the very top of the organization?
All the utility and government energy programs advise you to get top management support for energy management. In principle, I agree. The trick is to flag them down. Chances are they won’t be interested, at least at first. You can get started by engaging middle managers and working your way up and down the chain of command. There’s nothing like some early victories to boost your credibility and expand your influence.

9. If there are multiple sites to be managed, how does the energy manager’s authority apply?
As you know, people can be VERY territorial about their jobs. What will be the scope of your activities? What are the existing management relationships that provide access to multiple sites? Are there localized energy management efforts already in existence? How will you integrate these?

10. Were there any earlier attempts to manage energy?
If so, what happened? Maybe they have tried energy management before. How successful was it? What changes were made, and of those, how many remain in place? Has anyone measured progress since then?

This is a conversation about money, business planning, goals and targets. The hands-on technical issues are still important. However, technology does not implement itself. Goals are met because organizations learn to adapt and change. Change happens when people expect some benefit as a result. The energy manager’s job is to manage expectations as well as therms and kilowatt-hours.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Toward an Advanced Manufacturing Policy

NASEO Annual Meeting Keynote Address Focuses on Key Role for States in Advanced Manufacturing

[from, Sep. 11, 2012] Ro Khanna, author of "Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America's Future" and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, highlighted the State government and State Energy Office role in advanced manufacturing during his keynote address at the NASEO Annual Meeting on Monday, September 10. "State government is where innovation happens," explained Mr. Khanna to the audience of over 200 State and Territory Energy Officials and private sector energy representatives, "and what you're doing on energy efficiency and clean technology is vital for our economy." He stated that the federal government should partner with States to tap into the innovative public-private partnerships often initiated by State Energy Offices.

Mr. Khanna's address focused on why manufacturing is important to the U.S. economy as a bipartisan priority and how energy technologies fit into that vision. He emphasized the critical link between manufacturing design and production and the manufacturing sector's role in balancing the trade deficit. He indicated the manufacturing sector provides stable jobs with well-paying salaries and encouraged expansion of these opportunities.

On global competitiveness, Mr. Khanna referenced the array of government incentives offered to manufacturing companies in developing economies like China and Brazil. In the United States, he said, "it is only in the last 30 years that we decided that we either don't need manufacturing or that government shouldn't have a role in it." However, he noted a historic foundation for a government role based on a10-page manufacturing brief by Alexander Hamilton in 1791 that recommended the government invest with industry, develop an educated workforce, and provide tax incentives. Mr. Khanna suggested that the U.S. government improve manufacturing economic opportunities through streamlined regulations and enhanced approaches to insourcing jobs and decreasing the skills gaps.

Mr. Khanna reported that energy efficiency is still a sector in which the United States remains in the lead globally, creating 2.7 million jobs over the past two years in energy efficiency and clean technology. He said the nation should focus on promoting manufacturing that customizes products and innovates in order to retain and grow our competitive advantage.

Mr. Khanna concluded his remarks on a hopeful note about the American economy. He said while the U.S. manufacturing sector may have a history of being written off, it always succeeds based on the nation's free market economic principles, policy response, and encouragement of workforce creativity and innovation. According to Mr. Khanna, the United States possesses strategic advantages over its global competitors: a sense of "healthy skepticism" that inspires innovation and action in the manufacturing sector, private sector responsiveness to democratic institutions and process, and an encouragement of creativity and innovation in the workforce. He highlighted the importance of the State and Territory Energy Offices' efforts stating, "If we don't figure out how to increase supply of energy long-term and be more efficient in the use of energy, we will put our manufacturers at an economic disadvantage."


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