Over the course of the past three years, the MBTA has increased its focus on Energy Management with a specific eye on energy conservation as well as developing new renewable energy projects. The MBTA’s increased focus on energy management springs from a number of important sources.
As the fifth largest provider of mass transit in the USA, and carrying more than 1.3 million passenger trips each day, the MBTA plays a critical role in reducing carbon impacts in the region. By providing high quality and reliable alternatives to the use of single occupant vehicles, the MBTA gives its customers the opportunity to avoid automobile travel and instead to ride a far more energy efficient, less polluting form of transportation. Providing this high level of transit requires a significant amount of energy. The MBTA is the largest single consumer of electricity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The MBTA is also the largest consumer of other energy products (e.g., Compressed Natural Gas and Diesel) in the New England region.
The MBTA recognizes the important role it plays in energy management and the responsibility it has to reduce its energy consumption. This focus on energy management is consistent with major policy objectives of the Patrick/Murray Administration, such as the Governor’s Leading By Example Executive Order and the MassDOT GreenDOT Policy Initiative, each of which challenge agencies such as the MBTA to reduce emissions from its facilities and its operations. A focus on energy conservation and energy management allows the MBTA to reduce its carbon impact.
Additionally, energy costs represent one of the largest share of the MBTA operating budget. Since 2000, energy costs have risen by 134%. Diesel, gasoline and electricity are highly volatile commodities and are a challenge to stable budget projections. Programs that focus on reductions in energy have an often immediate positive impact on operating costs.
In light of these issues, the MBTA has launched a series of projects designed to not only reduce energy consumption (with a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gases) but that also focus on the MBTA’s budget and provide cost savings in relatively short periods of time.
The MBTA has been tracking all energy consumption (diesel, gasoline, CNG, steam, jet fuel, etc). The goal is to create a baseline against which the MBTA can track the efficiency of its energy consumption. The MBTA has now tracked all energy consumption from FY 2009 to FY 2012 (inclusive) and can now measure the fuel consumption against metrics such as “Energy Consumption per Passenger Trip” or “Energy Consumption per Passenger Mile.” This type of tracking allows the MBTA to demonstrate the efficiency of the transit system compared to prior years.
These energy management programs, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy information systems have allowed the MBTA to make headways towards accomplishing two of its major objectives: to reduce operating costs to the greatest degree possible without interrupting or interfering with operations and to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions resulting from its operations.
KINGSTON 1000 kW TURBINE
In January 2012, the MBTA commissioned its first wind turbine generator at the Kingston Layover Facility. The Kingston Commuter Rail Layover Facility is geographically well suited to directly use the electricity generated. In addition the wind turbine project was based on wind resource, prevailing wind direction and available/suitable land. The electrical output from a 100 kW turbine would be an effective match for this facility’s estimated annual electric load of 255,000 kWh/yr.
In addition to being an "end-of-the-line" station, this facility is also the layover for the line where the MBTA stores trains at the end of the day so that they are available for early morning service. Locomotives are connected to “electric plug-ins” overnight during the cold weather months (when temperatures drop below 30 degrees) to prevent locomotives from freezing and ensuring that they can start up on time for the morning commute. Without these plug ins, locomotives would be required to idle all night in cold weather.
The presence of this layover facility creates the demand for more electricity, especially during the winter months when the wind resource and associated generation of electricity will be greatest. The 100 kW on-site wind project is a highly replicable model as this layover facility has a similar wind regime and electrical load as a number of facilities in the MBTA system.
NEW WIND PROJECTS
The MBTA will also be building a 600 kW turbine to be located along the commuter rail right of way in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. This turbine will generate power that unlike Kingston will not be used on site but will be sold back to the regional electrical grid.
These turbines were funded using primarily Federal Transit Administration (FTA) funds coming from the Transportation Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reductions (TIGGER) as well as a corresponding grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).
READVILLE YARD, WONDERLAND GARAGE
In September 2012 the MassDot Board of Directors unanimously approved the proposed contract for solar development projects at Readville 5 Yard and Wonderland parking garage.
The structure of the contract is such that the MBTA will provide zero upfront capital for any of the construction costs. This contract provides license for a solar developer to finance, install, maintain and operate solar arrays at these two locations.
The developer will retain rights to environmental attributes, most notably the tax, accelerated depreciation and solar renewable energy credit (SREC) benefits. MBTA will purchase all electricity generated from these arrays and subsequently use this energy production to offset usage in its existing utility account portfolio. There will also be a Net Present Value (NPV) savings of $1,500,000 over 20 years.
Beginning in the fall of 2010, the MBTA embarked on an aggressive campaign to curb its energy consumption. Starting with four pilot locations, the MBTA engaged local utilities to capitalize on incentives for reducing energy consumption. In the last year, the MBTA has increased their project portfolio from four locations to over forty and the list continues to grow. Lighting upgrades have been the primary target for four reasons:
Number of Lights – Lighting types at the MBTA consist of T-12 fluorescent, high and low pressure sodium, metal halide, mercury vapor, etc. It’s estimated that there are over 70,000 lights in the rapid transit system.
Obsolescence – Most of the existing fixtures in the rapid transit system utilize outdated technology and, in some instances, the lighting is being phased out as is the case with T-12 fluorescent.
Ease of Installation – With proper coordination these projects can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on complexity.
Significant Savings – For every kilo watt of demand reduced the MBTA saves $783. With 1,204 kW saved to date, the MBTA is saving $942,637 annually.
The 48 projects include a variety of different property types:
Beginning in December 2011, 698 metal halide boxes and pole-top fixtures will be replaced with energy efficient T-8 and induction fixtures. A three phase project, the work was completed in January 2013.
The energy savings opportunity at this location is tremendous. There was a demand reduction of 92 kW, an annual consumption reduction of 777,307 kWh, and an annual energy savings of $108,621. The kWh saved at this location represents the average annual usage of 78 residential homes.
Working closely with NStar and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the MBTA was able to capitalize on significant incentives. For three phases of the project, the MBTA realized an avoided project cost of $262,051 which represented 95% of the total project cost. This offered an incredible payback period of approximately 36 days!
LIGHTING PROJECTS - CHANGING LIGHT BULBS
The MBTA has over 2,300 signals on the Red, Orange, Green, and Blue Lines that are an integral part of the safety and operations of the trains. Up until recently, the light for a signal was a small incandescent bulb that would last approximately six weeks, and to replace a signal bulb it required two people because of the safety requirements working on the right of way.
The Engineering and Maintenance Department came up with the eventual solution; using LED bulbs. Except there were two problems; the bulbs would need to have a similar base that would be able to plug into existing units; and LED bulbs are expensive.
LED bulbs last approximately 6 to 8 years and use approximately one twelfth the amount of electricity of incandescent bulbs. By working with a manufacturer to develop a LED bulb that met MBTA specifications, and cost one half the amount of similar bulbs, the problem was solved.
As of the end of 2012, there were approximately 1,500 bulbs installed at a cost of $138,000 for parts and labor. The return on investment was within four months, and the savings for the MBTA over a three year period will be approximately $1,171,500. The bulk of the savings is for the reduction in maintenance costs, which translates to more efficient use of manpower.