There are many important factors that have changed the landscape of the energy efficiency industry and the use of smart meters.
Some of these factors include the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which requires all federal facilities to be metered; volatility in energy prices, which has made the adoption of energy efficiency technologies a strategy to increase profitability; and programmes developed by cities and states to reduce greenhouse gases and encourage the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies. How do utility professionals keep abreast of the latest energy efficiency technologies and their applications? Training is the key for success in the energy efficiency industry.
Continuing education programmes
A wide range of training options are available. Each training option offers Continuing Education Units (CEUs), which are important for documenting courses successfully completed. For example, in 2005 twenty-seven states required CEUs as a prerequisite for professional engineering licence renewal. In addition, a certificate of participation is awarded for courses attended.
CEU programmes include:
- Live seminars: A wide range of courses are available in cities across the nation. Some of the seminars are designed to prepare students for the professional certification examinations. Live programmes offer an optimum learning environment with ample time to interact with the instructor as well as other colleagues in attendance.
- In-house seminars: Many of the live seminars also may be presented at a company facility.
- Real-time online training: The student can participate in a real-time seminar at the office or at home just by having access to the internet and telephone. The students communicate through a scheduled conference call with the instructor. The instructor’s PowerPoint presentation is viewed by the student via the internet connection.
- Self-study online training seminars: The student receives a workbook containing training materials and examination questions. The student completes the training at his or her own pace. The student can also interact with the instructor and fellow students during regularly scheduled chat sessions.
- 24-7 online university: The course material is available online twentyfour hours a day for up to thirty days. The student who passes the online examination will be able to print a certificate of course completion and be awarded CEUs.
- Conferences and expositions.
Certified Energy Manager
Since its inception in 1981, the Certified Energy Manager (CEM®) credential has become widely accepted and used as a measure of professional accomplishment within the energy management field. It has gained industry-wide use as the standard for qualifying energy professionals both inside the United States as well as outside.
The CEM certification programme recognises individuals who have demonstrated high levels of experience, competence, proficiency, and ethical fitness in the energy management profession. These individuals work in professions serving industry, business, and government, and comprise a veritable ‘who’s who’ in the energy management field. To date some 6,000 professionals from throughout the US and in 22 countries abroad hold the status of CEM.
Business Energy Professional (BEP) programme
The Business Energy Professional (BEP) certification programme awards special recognition to those business/ marketing and energy professionals who have demonstrated a high level of competence and ethical fitness for business/ marketing and energy management-related disciplines, as well as laws governing and affecting energy professionals.
The BEP programme strives to improve the practice of energy management by encouraging energy business professionals in a continuing education programme of professional development. Southern California Edison uses the BEP to train and certify many of its engineers.
Training courses for smart metering
A smart meter is a device which incorporates two distinct elements: A meter that uses new technology to capture complex energy data and information, and a communication system that can transmit this information at the time of occurrence.
Smart meters may thus be used to:
- Identify and implement operational strategies to control the load factor and reduce energy waste
- Manage operations in response to price volatility
- Improve consumption patterns in order to secure better pricing from the retail electricity market
- Provide a monetary incentive to end users who manage loads by using demand response programmes
- Measure and verify energy savings from performance contracts.
In 2007, the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) is developing training programmes for utility professionals and their customers to use smart meters. These programmes are offered on a real-time basis. Some of the topics that are covered in these programmes include specifying and installing smart meters, maximising the value of smart meters, data handling/analysis software, and integrating smart metering into operations.