Pump system professionals must be aware of new rules to adapt to an evolving marketplace.

1. Clean Power Plan

Aug. 3, 2015, marked a historic day for the power generation industry. In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the effects of climate change, the Obama Administration revealed the Clean Power Plan, the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulations on coal-burning power plants.

Called "Obama's biggest global warming move yet" by The Washington Post, the Clean Power Plan is intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants 32 percent by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

The plan provides each state with a goal for emissions reductions as well as several options for meeting those goals. Many states are making significant efforts to increase the percentage of electricity supplied by renewable energy sources and to improve the efficiency of existing power plants to reduce reliance on coal, decrease emissions and comply with the new regulations.

On its website, the EPA reports that this plan will prevent "thousands of premature deaths," provide "public health and climate benefits worth an estimated $34 billion to $54 billion per year in 2030," and only cost $8.4 billion. Supporters of the plan herald these benefits and cite that, Clean Power Plan aside, the U.S. grid is already making the shift to renewable power.

Others anticipate positive economic impact. An August 2015 Forbes article titled "3 Ways The Clean Power Plan Will Strengthen Our Economy" predicts that the law will usher in "hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs," that it will reduce the cost of electricity and that it will encourage innovation.

"The Clean Power Plan is an incredible economic opportunity that states can't afford to miss," Forbes contributor Jim Marston said in the article.

Others assert that the pressure these regulations place on power plants will harm state economies that heavily rely on coal production. According to BBC, many utility companies argue that the consumer will receive the biggest blow in the form of increased power bills.

For those who work in the heart of the power generation industry, however, the concerns go beyond economic impact. "We need base-load power," says William Livoti, power generation business development manager at WEG Electric Corporation and Pumps & Systems Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) member. "Fifty-five percent of the power plants in the U.S. were coal-fired. Fast-forward to today: It's (about) 35 percent."

Power industry professionals like Livoti worry that a continued decline in base-load power—namely coal-fired plants—will contribute to a less reliable grid.

"Coal-fired power plants were never designed to run at reduced load. They were designed to run at full load all the time," Livoti says. "So now, because of this influx of renewable energy on the grid, coal-fired power plants are swinging the load, and this is killing the reliability of these plants. At a recent conference I was at, that was the No. 1 topic of discussion: how to maintain reliability under these operating conditions."

The majority of these reliability problems and failures are associated with the plants' pumping systems, Livoti says. These load swings are placing added pressure on pumps, mainly circulating water pumps, boiler feed pumps, condensate pumps and heater drain pumps.

"A majority of these coal-fired power plants are over 40 years old," Livoti says. "So now you're pushing them back on load and stressing 40-year old equipment. That's like taking your 40-year-old car on a drag strip. … The power industry doesn't know what to do."

Compounding the problem, Livoti adds, is the lack of a national energy policy that gives the power industry guidelines for how to comply with these new regulations. In the face of these challenges, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must continue to develop innovative solutions that allow power suppliers to optimize their pumping systems, and power suppliers should consider using variable frequency drives (VFDs) to help control the speed of their pumps.

"New technology is going to drive the power industry, and pump technology needs to be a part of it," Livoti says. "The generators and the boilers are the heart of the power plant. The pump systems are the arteries. … (Pump OEMs) must step up to the plate and come up with creative technologies that can handle the cycling required by power plants."

At press time, the Senate had voted to block the Clean Power Plan, a move that Obama plans to veto, according to a November 17, 2015 The Washington Post article.

2. The DOE Energy Conservation Standard for Pumps

In June 2011, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a Request for Information that began the process of regulating pump efficiency in the U.S. for the first time. Since then, the Hydraulic Institute (HI) has been at the forefront of the development, coordinating responses from industry stakeholders, gathering data and implementing related initiatives.

The result of these efforts, the Energy Conservation Standard for Pumps, is slated to be released in its final version in the first quarter of 2016. Once the standard is made law, pump OEMs will have four years—by 2020, if the final version is not delayed—to comply.

Image 1. American Electric Power's coal-fired Amos Plant in West Virginia (Image courtesy of American Electric Power)Image 1. American Electric Power's coal-fired Amos Plant in West Virginia (Image courtesy of American Electric Power)

The regulation will set efficiency standards for five main types of clean water pumps: end suction close-coupled (ESCC), end suction frame-mounted (ESFM), in-line, radially split multi-stage vertical in-line diffuser casing (RSV), and vertical turbine submersible (VTS) pumps. The scope of the rule includes pumps from 1 to 200 horsepower (HP), pumps that have a minimum best efficiency flow rate of 25 gallons per minute (gpm), and pumps with a high head limit of 459 feet at the best efficiency flow rate.

Through negotiations, certain clean water pumps—such as circulator pumps and dedicated-purpose pool pumps—have been excluded or set aside for future consideration. An Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) working group is developing a term sheet for the regulation of dedicated-purpose pool pumps, and the HI Circulator Committee is informally negotiating with energy advocates to develop a term sheet that can be recommended to the DOE for circulator pumps.

Michael Michaud, executive director of HI and Pumps & Systems EAB member, says that the DOE efficiency rule will likely remove 25 percent of pumps from the market by 2020.

"(OEMs) are going to have to look at how they can improve their pump efficiencies through redesign or other improvements to meet these tougher standards," Michaud says. "I know that many HI members are already there."

Parallel to the Energy Conservation Standard, the DOE is also implementing the Test Procedure for Commercial & Industrial Pumps, which establishes a standardized method for measuring pump efficiency. HI, with the support of the DOE, developed a test standard, which the DOE incorporated by reference in the parallel test procedure, HI 40.6, Methods for Rotodynamic Pump Efficiency Testing. This standard will establish benchmark test procedures that will be used to verify that pump efficiencies conform to DOE requirements. HI's new Pump Test Lab Approval Program (HI 40.7) will further ensure compliance by providing third-party validation that test lab procedures comply with standard requirements.

"This is an additional guarantee that the performance numbers are correct," Michaud says.

Pete Gaydon, HI's director of technical affairs, says that by law the DOE must consider the impact these regulations will have on manufacturers. They conducted studies and analysis to evaluate how the standard would affect small manufacturers and competition in the marketplace. In the end, they determined that proposed Energy Conservation Standard and Test Procedure for Pumps "is not overly burdensome, and there is significant time to comply," Gaydon says.

While the industry may have adequate time to prepare, redesigning or completely replacing product lines can incur significant cost. Plus, manufacturers know that the DOE can revise the rule at any time to require even more stringent compliance.

"It's not known how far the DOE is going to go 10 years from now, so there's uncertainty," Gaydon says. "The manufacturers are going to try to redesign equipment to be as efficient as possible or come up with other methods of meeting the DOE regulations such as offering more products with variable speed drives."

Despite the costs, several benefits are clear, Gaydon says: an increased emphasis on a systems approach to evaluating efficiencies, a better industry-wide understanding of the importance of optimizing pumping systems, and a long-term reduction in energy use.

"Over the 30-year life of the standard, as the DOE looked at it, they estimated that 0.27 quadrillion BTUs (British thermal units) will be saved from 2019 through 2049," Gaydon says. "That's obviously a benefit to all and a main reason (the DOE) is embarking on this standard."

3. The Integral Horsepower Motor Rule

A major amendment to previous motor regulations in the U.S.—10 CFR Part 431—will take effect June 1, 2016. Known as the Integral Horsepower Rule, this DOE regulation will amend the Energy Independence and Security Act, which took effect in December 2010.

The regulation will affect 1- to 500-horsepower, low-voltage, three-phase electric motors—as well as 56-frame enclosed motors—sold for use in the U.S., including imports. These motors will be required to meet Premium Efficiency standards according to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) MG 1-2014, Tables 12-2 and 20B.

According to a report from Baldor Electric Company, motors that fall under the scope of this rule must have the following characteristics:

  • single-speed
  • rated for continuous duty (MG 1) operation or for duty type S1 (IEC)
  • contain a squirrel-cage (MG 1) or cage (IEC) rotor
  • operate on polyphase alternating current (AC) 60-hertz sinusoidal line power
  • have two-, four-, six- or eight-pole configuration
  • rated 600 volts or less
  • have a three- or four-digit NEMA frame size, including those designs between two consecutive NEMA frame sizes or an enclosed 56 NEMA frame size
  • 1 to 500 HP (or kilowatt equivalent)
  • meet all the performance requirements of a NEMA design A, B or C electric motor or an IEC design N or H electric motor

Patrick Hogg, vertical and variable speed product manager at Nidec, says manufacturers have already been preparing for these changes, and many already sell motors that meet these requirements. Once the rule takes effect, however, manufacturers will only be able to build higher efficiency motors.

Hogg says this rule is largely modeled after a system already in use in the European Union. "It is a global push for efficiency," he says. "After the U.S. rule goes into effect, Canada and Mexico are likely to follow."

In the face of these fast-approaching changes, many in the industry are counting the cost, both in terms of price and engineering.

"Fifty-six-frame enclosed motors never have been covered before, so they're going to really jump up in size and cost," says John Malinowski, Baldor's senior manager of industry affairs and Pumps & Systems EAB member.

The pumps that are powered by these motors will also be affected by the rule, Malinowski says. Because Premium Efficiency motors will be operating at higher speed, the centrifugal load of the pump could lead to motor overload and other system problems.

"Pump manufacturers will be redesigning pumps to accommodate these higher speed motors," Malinowski says, emphasizing that pump OEMs will also need to innovate to ensure reliable and efficient performance for entire systems.

For more information, visit nema.org.