Facing increasing regulations, facilities must get creative at controlling energy costs

Bill Miller
Bill Miller

Hospitals have been hit with myriad challenges as the country moves toward renewable energy sources, says Bill Miller, Director of Strategic Account Integration, HealthTrust inSight Advisory–Energy. There are bailouts of nuclear plants in New York, New Jersey and Illinois, and potentially Ohio and Pennsylvania soon, he says.

“The bottom line is that right now, all of these bailouts for nuclear plants are probably costing our customers between $2.5 and $3 million a year,” Miller explains.

We’re always looking forward as far as the market’s concerned. … We’re trying to be more proactive with our facilities, so they continue to become more energy efficient as time goes on. Bill Miller

These bailouts have far-reaching effects, as more of the energy supply has to come from renewables, which means there’s another add-on surcharge to consider. In total, facilities could face a total of $4.5 to $5 million in increased costs, Miller explains, which HealthTrust strives to help them manage.

Digging into the details

The key to success in handling this change is optimizing energy usage without jeopardizing the facility’s reliability. “We want to know how the facility operates and if there’s anything that can be done more efficiently,” Miller adds. The energy team helps member facilities from a variety of angles. One strategy is looking at energy-efficient ways to cut back on usage. “We analyze what a facility’s hourly use is on the electricity side,” Miller says. “We’ll delve into it and actually analyze what’s happening on an hour-by-hour basis.”

If they see anything that doesn’t make sense—say a spike in usage during a certain period of time—they will attempt to figure out what’s causing that increase in order to remedy it.

HealthTrust’s energy team also helps healthcare facilities aggressively contract for reduced rates on energy pricing. They look for trends in the market and recommend that their customers buy (gas or electric) during dips. “We’re always looking forward as far as the market’s concerned,” Miller says.

In addition, inSight Advisory – Energy also helps member facilities by recommending state-sponsored initiatives. They try to push their customers to take full advantage of any state incentives that exist for energy-efficient work. “We’re trying to be more proactive with our facilities, so they continue to become more energy efficient as time goes on,” Miller adds.

HealthTrust’s energy team helps healthcare facilities look at energy-efficient ways to cut back on usage.

Big-picture view

HealthTrust recently implemented a program in Maryland to bypass changes in Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). The program will save one facility about $1 million over six years. Because facilities don’t generate revenue from energy, it’s often overlooked, even though it could be an important part of a facility’s savings, Miller says.

Zoe Beck
Zoë Beck

“This is the way we look at it: You’re going to pay the energy costs no matter what, and you don’t generate any revenue off of them,” Miller explains. “But if I can knock off $500,000 or $1 million, maybe that’s money that could go toward something that will start generating revenue for the facility.”

Zoë Beck, Manager of Sustainability for HealthTrust, is attempting to bridge this gap, so those at the corporate level understand the far-reaching benefits of energy-efficient initiatives.

“I’m working with HealthTrust’s energy team to make sure that hospitals realize not only the financial value of the project that they’re working on, but also what it can bring in terms of sustainability,” she explains. “My goal is to marry those priorities to help hospitals tell their whole story.”

FIND OUT if there are untapped energy savings opportunities within your facility. Email Bill Miller, inSight Advisory – Energy, at bill.miller@healthtrustpg.com

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