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Golf Course Upgrades Could Yield 30% Energy Savings

A three-year pilot project now underway in Southern California hopes to show that by upgrading irrigation systems, golf facility operators can reduce operating costs by using less energy and water. Southern California Edison is offering customers cash rebates based on the energy savings achieved. In some cases, the rebates are enough to amortize the cost of the upgrades within three years.

Andrew Staples, president of the Golf Resource Group, a golf course design and construction expert who has spearheaded the pilot program, said the Southern California project could lead to a nationwide effort. There are about 1,000 golf facilities in California, he said, and about 320 of them are in the SCE service area. For the pilot project, the goal is to upgrade 85 facilities by the end of 2008, Staples said.

A facility that uses 1 million kWh per year might be able to cut that to 650,000 kWh and get a check from SoCal Edison for $28,000 to help pay for the upgrade, Staples said. The reduction in water consumption is a bonus, and hasn’t been figured into the program but probably will be at some point.

The consultants’ compensation is based on the amount of energy saved, as well. The consultants are paid by the electric company with ratepayer funds designated for energy conservation programs.

“The systems obviously range in size but some of the pump stations are about 20 years old,” Staples said. “The technology has improved dramatically since those systems were installed.”

Technology such as the Variable Frequency Drive, which enables a pumping system to adjust itself to demand, and new software for more precise system control, can significantly reduce both energy and water consumption, Staples said.

ITT Flowtronex is assisting Staples and his team of consultants on the pilot project.

Variable Speed Solutions, a Southern California FlowNet service company, is reviewing existing site conditions and developing the step-by-step plans needed to complete the Flowtronex pump station retrofits.

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