A Tale of Many Meters

By WSCC 1 year ago

By Lauren Hall Ruddell, PhD., WSCC Board Member

Four meters on an old building winked at each other, and at the end of each month, whispered in quiet confidence, “Well that’s another $30 that our tenants will have to pay for no reason.” “I know, right, same here,” winked another meter at the other three. Meanwhile, a board member of building occupant WSCC, stood with hands on hips, glaring at these smug old meters. Little did they know that their time had come.

Former WSCC Treasurer Zach Krapfl hates waste. “It was a nagging monthly expense that was driving me crazy!” So he decided to do something about it. Thus begins the tale of WSCC energy freedom. 

Zach was on the board from 2016 to the end of 2021. In those 6 years, the chuckle of those self-satisfied meters grated on his nerves. Because of the building’s age and history, it had accumulated 4 separate meters from DMEA. And they served no purpose. One meter would do nicely, as would setting a good example for sustainability by a conservation organization from going solar. Knowing that monthly fees for no service rendered can really add up, Zach contacted DMEA and began examining the building’s capacity for solar. Funding would be needed. After some setbacks on that, Zach decided to take on the project himself. He secured a 5-year loan that will be paid off in 2024. DMEA removed three unnecessary meters, leaving one standard meter to track the amount of solar input that they received from WSCC, an overage of production of electricity above what the organization needs from the panels. This is reimbursed to WSCC in April of each year.  DMEA reimburses at a rate of approximately 6 cents per kilowatt generated, which is higher than in much of the nation.

So now in late Spring of 2023, WSCC saves about $50 per month even after paying for the PV loan. Once the loan is paid off, it will save WSCC  an average expenditure of about $2,500 per year. That is not counting the income from the salon that rents the space from WSCC. A digital meter was installed as part of the PV project which carefully and accurately monitors the energy usage of the salon that occupies one portion of the building. So instead of four old meters, three of which served no purpose other than to cost the organization money for just hanging out on the side of the building, now there is one meter that tracks the amount of energy that WSCC sends back to the grid, and another digital meter that carefully tracks the usage of the building’s other tenant using the array in order to bill them fairly. Once the loan is fully paid off, WSCC will actually be saving money and offsetting its entire electric load with solar. 

What is Captain Anti-waste Zach doing these days? He is providing e-bikes and the route logistics for them to New York City, where the waste of energy and the inefficiency of vehicles stuck in traffic for hours also drives him crazy. E-bikes will help solve both congestion and air pollution while decreasing the delivery time of perishables by 50%.  Both Zach and WSCC get to lead by example for energy efficiency, while saving environmental quality in two very different regions. And now the only winking to be done is at Wink-Wink Salon in the WSCC building, which also benefits from more efficient and eco-friendly energy management.

To learn more about Zach and WSCC’s solar array, he can be emailed at cleanslateenergy.com.

Interested in getting solar for your home or business, contact WSCC supporter Empowered Energy Systems at 970-234-5412.

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