Before looking at alternative fuels or supplementing the energy supply, operators can start becoming more energy efficient by picking off low-hanging fruit, MSO panelists said at the Cable Show.

This “fruit” varies in variety from water and paper conservation to recycling, telework programs, light sensors and waterless urinals. “If you are early into this, there are things all over the place that you can start attacking,” said Jay Rolls, SVP, Cox Communications.

Comcast has 2,500 hybrid flex fuel hybrid vehicles in its fleet, and has implemented both a home garaging and GPS program, while Rogers Cable Communications emphasized its air management programs, during the panel discussion. In one new Toronto headend, the company saved 90 percent of energy costs by exchanging air through a heat exchange wheel.

“Six to eight months of the year, cooling is heat transfer through the wheel,” said D’Arcy Brown, director, network planning, Rogers.

Air control can be as simple as plugging up holes from drilling in a data center. Time Warner recovered 20 tons of air handling by doing this in a 7,000 square foot space. “We took measures before and after. It was quite remarkable,” said Dan Cooper, senior director, technical operations, noting that air flow has to be front to back not side to side.

“There are some devices out there, specifically in the headend blowing sideways," said Cooper. "You can’t build a model blowing sideways where everything else is blowing front to back.”

As for energy use, Comcast’s 3,400 real estate properties generate an electric bill of $300 million annually, while Cox’s combined power, natural gas, and fleet fuel bill is about $177 million. If operators can meter and display what is being used for individual systems, yearly awards can be given for the most progress with energy conservation, Rolls said.

“It (also) helps to have an overall goal… We’ve said that we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over 20 percent by 10 years,” Rolls added.       

Software is available that can help enterprises make sure PCs are saving power at night, while still allowing the IT group to do the stuff it needs. Cox saved 2.3 million kilowatt hours on PCs in 2009. “This program has a one and a half year payback,” Roll said.

New Energy

Moving to even higher up fruit, renewable energy sources can make sense particularly in data centers.

On a stand-alone basis, solar can be challenging economically, but what is important is where the federal and state incentives come in. Cox built a 1 megawatt solar installation in New Jersey, Rolls said.

Cox also is kicking off a fuel cell initiative for one of its top five systems that will involve four 4kw fuel cells. “It will generate 16 percent of (its) total power consumption in its state,” Rolls said, noting that it will have a payback of three years.

-Monta Hernon

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