replaced, as well as 7. 5 times cleaner for
nitrogen oxides and 2. 1 times cleaner for
Increased cogeneration capacity will allow
UNM to generate 80 percent of its electrical
consumption, up from about 20 percent,
at less than the cost of utility-purchased
Upgraded lighting generated annual energy savings of nearly 23 million k Wh with a
reduction of nearly 4. 7 MW of electrical
demand and cost savings of nearly $1.4
million per year. This also represents a
reduction in peak cooling demand, and
thus capacity not purchased, of 1,337 tons.
UNM also is now also paying less for
electricity and gas from outside utilities.
During the infrastructure project planning
period, the university appeared before the
New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission
as a participant in several rate cases. As a
result of UNM’s testimony, a special district
energy system rate was created for electricity,
recognizing that the university receives
power directly off the local utility’s transmission lines and reduces voltage through its
A special reduced natural gas rate was
also established taking into account that natural gas suppliers and transporters can count
on UNM to consume a consistent amount of
natural gas month to month. UNM further
lowered its natural gas costs by adopting a
more strategic purchasing approach, actively
analyzing the market and managing a portfolio of natural gas contracts.
These rate changes proved to be particularly timely and critical in light of the recent
spike in natural gas prices. Although the
price hike has painted a less rosy picture for
UNM’s funding plan, limiting UNM’s ability to
make payments on the bonds and possibly
extending the payment period, the plan and
subsequent project has still protected the
university from an even more severe impact.
Establishing Lobo Energy proved to be a creative move with spectacularly successful
results. It may not be the right one for other
campuses, however. There is no 'cookbook
approach' to energy infrastructure renewal.
Every university must take into consideration
its unique institutional, political and regulatory
circumstances in developing the plan that
will best meet its needs.
As the utility upgrade wraps up, UNM is
considering the future mission of the corpo-
ration. The campus could still benefit from a
number of additional energy system
improvements – such as further control system modifications or customer building
improvements. Whatever tasks Lobo Energy
may be assigned, however, it is clear that the
work it has already done will enable UNM to
fulfill its master plan and mission for the
next 20 years.
Larry Schuster, P.E., is the utilities engineer for the University of
New Mexico (UNM). With UNM for
more than 25 years in various
capacities, he was assigned to
assist the Lobo Energy subsidiary’s
chief executive officer during execution of the
utility infrastructure renewal business plan.
Schuster served as the project manager for all
project chilled-water system improvements and
as director of the utility project team responsible
for day-to-day management of the entire renovation. Schuster teaches in the UNM School of
Architecture and Planning. A certified energy
manager and registered professional engineer,
he earned bachelor and master of science
degrees in mechanical engineering from UNM.
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