Introduction of New Utility Services to Promote More Effective Utility Management and Enhance Local Planning
Tom Fishbaugh, Certified Wastewater Operator takes Amp reading at PA facility
RCAP Solutions and its National RCAP partners continue to forge relationships that allow us to offer more diverse technical assistance services and trainings for communities and systems on infrastructure planning, basic regulatory compliance, and technical, managerial and financial issues.Â We feel such services improve the public health outcomes of the residents within these communities who derive drinking water and wastewater services from these utilities.Â These services can also provide invaluable information and resources to utility managers and their staff.
If you are a community or utility concerned with increasing customer bills, utility budgets, energy usage, repair and replacement of assets, funding and financing for projects, please visitÂ www.rcapsolutions.org/education_training.htmÂ andwww.rcap.orgÂ to learn more about the training tools and resources we can leverage within your community.
Plant Superintendent and Chief Operator for Earnhart Hill Regional Water and Sewer District
This year trainers from RCAP Solutions, Inc. and the Ohio Great Lakes RCAP are partnering on new initiatives to bring ASHRAE Level II Audits and GIS Mapping/GPS Services to selected utilities within our region. Â We offer an overview here and highlight our ongoing training services further in this article.
Energy audits vary in depth and ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) has defined three progressive levels of audits:
The Level I Audit is a â€œsimple or preliminary auditâ€ that is a brief review of the site or facility, defining the type and nature of the energy systems and/or possibly a review of the facilityâ€™s utility bills with recommendations that are not detailed.
ASHRAE Level II Audits are more detailed and consider the facility envelope, heating, lighting, ventilation, air-conditioning systems, and energy consumption in detail.Â Â Â The ASHRAE Level II Audit is not considered an investment grade or capital intensive audit yet it seeks to identify all practical energy conservation measures for a facility that meet the ownerâ€™s constraints and economic criteria.Â Â A financial analysis is performed based upon implementation costs, operating costs, and attainable savings.Â RCAP is fortunate to have a professional engineer and Certified Energy Auditor on staff to conduct the ASHRAE Level 11 Energy Audits.Â To date close to 35 of these audits have been conducted for utilities across the country by RCAP staff.
The ASHRAE Level III audits are definitive and require intensive engineering, economic
RCAP Staff participate in â€œTrain the Trainerâ€ classes for level II Energy Audits
analysis and building simulations.Â The latter is considered an Investment Grade or Capital Intensive Audit.Â For additional information please visitÂ www. ashrae.orgÂ Â or consult with your RCAP technical assistance provider.
In the Fall of 2011, some of our RCAP Solutions staff attended an intensive three day field-based training on Energy Audits in Columbus, Ohio.Â As a part of this training, several utilities were visited and Director of Education and Training, Sukhwindar Singh also offered a presentation on the topic to all of our community development staff and provided references and materials.Â The next step was to identify utilities that were interested in participating as part of a free pilot.Â Live webinars were employed utilizing two trainers- one from Great Lakes RCAP in Ohio and one from RCAP Solutions in Pennsylvania to jointly present to communities, utilities and other institutions on either the benefits of the ASHRAE Level II audits and/or the benefits of a GIS Cooperative Services.Â Â These trainings were hosted in communities and at local planning offices.
Three presentations to selected utilities on Energy Audits were offered in December of 2011 after some possible systems were identified jointly by the local Pennsylvania office of RCAP Solutions and the Bedford County Planning Commission.Â The pilot was offered at no cost to the utilities and information was gathered by RCAP Solutions staff to conduct ASHRAE Level II Energy Audits for the three participating utilities.Â End products for the participating utilities will be recommendations for improvements to overall energy intensive procedures at the utilities.Â Final updates and community presentations will also occur with utilities and boards.Â The total population reached by this pilot will be in excess of 2,000 households and it is expected that there will be cost-savings that are passed onto the customer.
Community development staff within RCAP Solutions has also obtained training on weatherization and additional community facility energy audits.Â Â Rural populations face many challenges when it comes to accessing educational information, not the least of which is travel, childcare needs, cost and time away from work.Â These are all barriers to education in the general population, but are particularly magnified in the rural populations RCAP Solutions serves.Â It is expected that RCAP Solutions will continue to make training programs more accessible and thus also build local leadersâ€™ capacity to address current and future needs in their communities.
RCAP field staff discuss findings with Chief Operator
An additional service promoted within our region is a pilot to assist local governments and utilities to create an up-to-date asset inventory and maps of their utility assets, to scan and digitally preserve paper as-builts drawings, collect GPS coordinates that will enable operators to readily find assets in the field, and to prepare Geographic Information System (GIS) datasets that will be ready for use in a GIS computer program. Â Â To date, RCAP has been involved in providing this service and completing the work for over 30 communities within Ohio. Â Â This service is quite useful for planning and asset management purposes.
Other Presentations and Services
During this past year, RCAP Solutions trainers also conducted over 23 board and system trainings for municipal authorities and utilities in the areas of Asset Management, Budgeting, Rates and Rate Reviews, USDA Funding and Reporting Requirements, Safety and Security, Income Surveys, Developing Positive Relations to Move Projects to Successful Funding, and RCAP Tools for Sustainable Projects.Â In addition, we also delivered trainings to over 50 community systems with over 647 attendees under all funding sources and we worked to promote the RCAP outcomes of a) improved environmental and community health, b) compliance with state and federal regulations, c) sustainable water and waste disposal facilities based on financial, and d) increased capability by local leaders to address current and future needs.Â In addition, all RCAP Solutions Inc. staff are certified as EPA CUPSS (Check Up Program for Small Systems) trainers. Â Through the leadership of Art Astarita, Maine State Lead and CUPSS champion, RCAP staff also continues to offer ongoing educational trainings and services in Asset Management for water and wastewater systems.
This year, RCAP staff also conducted two public outreach workshops entitled â€œPublic Water System Workshops for Businessesâ€ to over 15 attendees within central Massachusetts in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.Â The presentations raised awareness and knowledge of the requirements to operate a public water system (PWS) in Massachusetts, especially if the system is a drinking water source to a private business that serves 25 or more customers per day throughout the year.Â These businesses can range from daycares and restaurants to hotels and gas stations.Â In partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, RCAP Solutions developed an interactive public presentation complete with materials and handouts for business professionals and their clients when sites are being considered for business development and business expansion.Â It is expected such presentations will have an overall impact on improving environmental and community health for the customers and clients who frequent businesses that also operate as a public water system.Â The most recent presentations occurred in January of 2012 at the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and in Princeton, Massachusetts this past summer.
Additional Service to Rural Populations
Our funding resources are critical to RCAP Solutions because they also allow us to offer presentation and trainings on important environmental topics to watershed associations, small utilities, rural populations, schools and other agencies.Â This year, RCAP staff has made several presentations on capacity development topics to state primacies in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York, Maine, New Hampshire and US EPA Region 1.Â RCAP staff in central Pennsylvania completed a presentation for over 60 school children, parents, and school teachers from grades 4-8 on â€œPractical Things We Can Do to Protect the Environmentâ€ and â€œTap into Your Future Career in Drinking Water.â€Â RCAP staff also participates and serve as trainers and advisors with the NY Onsite Training Network, Maine WARN, PA WARN, Maine Water Utility Association Education and Operations group, RCAP National Training Work Group, CUPSS Train- the-Trainer Workgroup, and the New Hampshire Governorâ€™s Water Sustainability Commission.
Please also visitÂ www.rcapsolutions.org/trainings.htmÂ to see all of our events in our region.Â Events are updated weekly.