22181 Introduction

Economic barriers are among the greatest obstacle for the Energy Professional, and Automatic Controls are no exception. Acceptance of the cost of new technology almost always requires economic justification, and rightly so. Finding ways to predict and then demonstrate the savings is necessary should be the goal of any Automatic Controls project, since this will build momentum for subsequent projects.

While it is often easy to visualize that savings will occur from Automatic Control improvements, estimating them can be a very daunting and intimidating challenge. This presents a dilemma to the Energy Professional since cost justification is almost always an expectation. Projects that have merit but defy quantification may be overlooked.

Done accurately, the cost saving calculations can be laborious and expensive, posing a barrier to otherwise viable projects. One approach is to produce reasonable estimates using abbreviated estimating methods or 'rules of thumb' where possible. As with all estimates, being conservative is a key to success so that project performance is seen to under-sell and over-deliver. Even when not a contract requirement to guarantee savings, there is always an expectation that the estimated costs and savings come to pass; further, the credibility of the energy professional is built largely on the accuracy of these estimates. Bearing in mind that there will always be uncertainties and uncontrolled variables at work, it is usually good practice to de-rate the calculated savings. By artificially reducing savings (de-rating) and artificially increasing projected costs (contingency allowance), two things happen.

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