Energy Managers make all the difference

Recently, Natural Resources Canada released a report highlighting the success that embedded Energy Managers had on the Resource Sector (Mining and Gas).  These Energy Managers were able to make a significant impact on the businesses they were part of in a short period of time.

Below is a summary of the article and the successes that have been realized through the hiring of energy managers across British Columbia.

A study conducted a few years ago by BC Hydro – the Conservation Potential Review – found that the mining sector could achieve energy savings of up to 400 gigawatt hours annually. Steve Quon, Mining, Oil & Gas Sector Manager at BC Hydro’s Power Smart, says that as a result of the study, Power Smart partnered with the Mining Association of British Columbia (MABC) to look for key areas to target for energy savings. The subsequent hiring of energy managers at seven mine sites across the province was a major step in realizing those energy savings.

“Energy managers are a good story for everyone,” says Quon, noting that by having an energy manager on staff, continuous improvement is possible, and sustainability and energy efficiency become part of normal business practices. This increases operational efficiency, which is essential to the mining sector because it is British Columbia’s second largest electrical customer.

Quon explains that BC Hydro, in conjunction with the MABC, also conducted an all-fuels baseline audit, which was piloted at Walter Energy™-Western Coal’s Wolverine mine and Thompson Creek Metals Company Inc.’s Endako mines. The all-fuels baseline audit provides a detailed snapshot of energy use and waste at a mine site. It can be used yearly to compare trends in energy consumption and efficiency over time; and it can be used to compare mine sites. The audit is also a natural complement to the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining strategy.

“All of these initiatives align very well, but in order to fully implement them, a dedicated person – an energy manager – is needed,” notes Quon. Several mining companies had the information needed to move ahead but lacked the champion to make projects happen. Consequently, Power Smart offered to provide significant funding for hiring industrial energy managers to remove any financial and human resource barriers.

This allowed the following mines to hire energy managers: Highland Valley Copper mine, Thompson Creek Endako mine, Copper Mountain Mining Corporation mines, Agfa’s New Gold mine, Teck’s coal mine and Walter Energy-Western Coal’s Wolverine mine.

Most of the energy managers were hired in 2011, and although it is difficult to attribute energy savings directly to their presence, Quon says that the link is surely there. “What is equally important is that energy managers can make the business case for energy efficiency projects and ensure that energy efficiency is built into every project,” concludes Quon.

Visit BC Hydro Power Smart’s Web site for energy efficiency programs for the mining sector, including its offer for energy managers.

Thanks for reading.

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