SoCal Energy Initiative Encourages System Upgrades; ITT Flowtronex Assists with Effort that Could Yield 30% Energy Savings

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A three-year pilot project now underway in Southern California hopes to show that by upgrading irrigation systems, golf facility operators can reduce operating costs by using less energy and water. Southern California Edison (SCE) calls the pilot program "Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program for Golf Course Customers," and it's intended to encourage operators to upgrade and replace old irrigation equipment with more energy-efficient technology. The utility company is offering these customers cash rebates based on the energy savings achieved. In some cases, the rebates are enough to amortize the cost of the upgrades within three years.

A three-year pilot project now underway in Southern California hopes to show that by upgrading irrigation systems, golf facility operators can reduce operating costs by using less energy and water.

Southern California Edison (SCE) calls the pilot program "Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program for Golf Course Customers," and it's intended to encourage operators to upgrade and replace old irrigation equipment with more energy-efficient technology. The utility company is offering these customers cash rebates based on the energy savings achieved. In some cases, the rebates are enough to amortize the cost of the upgrades within three years.

Andrew Staples, a golf course design and construction expert who has spearheaded the pilot program, said the Southern California project could lead to a nationwide effort. There are about 1,000 golf facilities in California, he said, and about 320 of them are in the SCE service area. For the pilot project, the goal is to upgrade 85 facilities by the end of 2008, Staples said.

"The systems obviously range in size but some of the pump stations are about 20 years old," he said. "The technology has improved dramatically since those systems were installed."

Technology such as the Variable Frequency Drive, which enables a pumping system to adjust itself to demand, and new software for more precise system control, can significantly reduce both energy and water consumption, Staples said.

ITT Flowtronex, which pioneered many of the technological advances and which also is the market-leader in golf course pump stations in California, is assisting Staples and his team of consultants on the pilot project.

"This is an opportunity for us to show operators that pump station technology really has improved and the economics of upgrades make a lot of sense," said Boyd Rose, Turf Products and Application Manager for Flowtronex.

Rose said some of the most important technology advances, such as the Master Control Architecture (MCA), a platform for Integrated Water Management, also are only minimally invasive or disruptive to ongoing operations. MCA combines the latest in irrigation technology with the most advanced computer-based controls, which can be accessed from anywhere at any time via the Internet.

Variable Speed Solutions, Inc., a Southern California FlowNet service company, has been instrumental in reviewing existing site conditions and developing the step-by-step plans needed to complete the Flowtronex pump station retrofits.

"For many years traditional service companies have been putting "band aids" on old, inefficient systems. Superintendents are now realizing these escalating repair costs would be better used toward a new, more efficient system," said Brian Pavloff, president of Variable Speed Solutions.

"VSS uses a 'Life Cycle Management' approach with customers to help them prepare for the financial impact of a replacement. We review the station's age, efficiency and other key factors to formulate a strategy which helps superintendents and general managers plan accordingly," Pavloff said.

In addition to providing technical assistance, Flowtronex and Variable Speed Solutions are helping with customer introductions and presentations on the pilot program, Staples said.

Flowtronex also is one of only two manufacturers currently certified to participate in the energy conservation program and has the most extensive service network, which it calls FlowNet, Rose said. The service network enables customers to accomplish the equipment upgrades and retrofits quickly and easily, he added.

To get the process started with a specific customer, Staples and his team of technical experts interview the facility operator in detail over the phone to gather basic information on the facility's historical electricity consumption in kilowatt hours, the existing equipment, and specifics about the management of the site. The second step is to make a site visit and test the existing equipment. The facility operator pays nothing for the evaluation.

Based on the findings and analysis, Staples and his team show the facility operator how much annual electricity consumption can be reduced by using more advanced technology. A facility that uses 1 million kWh per year, for example, might be able to cut that to 650,000 kWh and get a check from SoCal Edison for $28,000 to help pay for the upgrade. The reduction in water consumption is a bonus, and hasn't been figured into the program but probably will be at some point, Staples said.

The consultants' compensation is based on the amount of energy saved, as well. The consultants are paid by the electric company with ratepayer funds designated for energy conservation programs.

For more information on the pilot project, contact Staples at 480/206-1134, or e-mail.

About Golf Resource Group

Golf Resource Group, established in 2000, is a golf development consultancy with contracts for implementing and sustaining efficient management practices on golf courses in California, Utah and Nevada.

Andrew Staples, President of GRG, has designed and built over 10 golf course projects in California alone. His resume includes work at La Quinta Country Club in La Quinta, California, and Cedar Hills Golf Club in Salt Lake City, Utah and most recently, The Sand Hollow Golf Links in St. George, Utah. Visit http://www.thegolfresourcegroup.com.

About ITT Flowtronex

ITT Flowtronex designs and manufactures pumping systems for a variety of irrigation, boost and lift applications and maintains the turf industry's largest network of factory-certified service technicians. Flowtronex is an ITT Corporation company. Visit http://www.flowtronex.com.

ITT Corporation supplies advanced technology products and services in several growth markets and is a global leader in the transport, treatment and control of water, wastewater and other fluids. Visit http://www.itt.com.

About Variable Speed Solutions Inc.

Variable Speed Solutions Inc. is a factory-certified FlowNet company offering pump station solutions to meet golf course superintendent needs throughout southern California. Variable Speed Solutions specializes in pump station retrofit projects. Its team of professional will evaluate a system, develop a step-by-step plan and install a replacement pump station in as little as a single day.

Brian Pavloff, President of VSS, has been working on pumping systems for over 15 years and has completed more station retrofits than any other service provider. His resume includes replacements at: Pelican Hill GC, El Niguel CC, Bear Creek CC, Morgans Run GC, Alta Vista CC, Wood Ranch CC, Rancho San Joaquin GC, David L. Baker GC and many others. Visit http://www.variablespeedsolutions.com.

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