This year will bring opportunities and challenges to end users, as well as to distributors and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). In late January, it is not what you will see on the market—but what you may not see.
“About 25 percent of pumps will be removed from the market,” said Michael Michaud, executive director of the Hydraulic Institute (HI). Additionally, the lighting rebates that have benefited many large facilities are likely to disappear in 2020.
For several years, the industry has been preparing for the changes that go into effect on Jan. 27.
These rules mark the first time that the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has regulated the pumps for energy efficiency, although anyone who purchases and uses motors knows that this is the direction of energy efficiency and will be for the foreseeable future.
Most pump users may not have given much thought to how the new efficiency rule may impact them. System designers and purchasing engineers may no longer be able to choose a simple replacement when a new pump is needed.
“With 25 percent of the market disappearing,” Michaud said, “those looking to make a like-for-like swap may not find it on the market. Fortunately, the pumps they will find will provide an opportunity to think beyond the simple swap and look for a more efficient pump that improves system efficiency.” They can save money over time, as well.
For the last four years, OEMs have redesigned pumps so they consume less energy, which also means that pumps will be more reliable and need less downtime for maintenance and repairs.
Understanding the impact of the rule, and how to maneuver through the market to find the right product, may be confusing. There are resources available to help users select the right pump for their particular application and situation. The DOE now requires the Pump Energy Index (PEI) to be listed on every pump’s nameplate. PEI rates the energy performance of pumps covered by the standard. For the particulars of the metric with the calculations explained, see page 22.
Lighting & Pump Rebates
Large facilities and plants have received rebates/incentives in recent years when they have upgraded to more efficient LED lights. Generally, local utilities have been behind these programs to encourage energy savings and decrease the need to build new power plants. The monies help offset the cost of installing the more expensive plants and systems.
While the bad news is that the lighting programs will be phasing out, the good news is that similar incentives are on their way for pump upgrades.
“Pump rebates are already available in California, the Pacific Northwest and Minnesota, and a handful more territories are expected to roll out across North America this year,” Michaud said.
Lighting programs have existed through the DOE since its inception in 1977. In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced the voluntary Energy Star labeling program that is so familiar today. The label shows consumers information about a product’s energy efficiency. “Following that lead, HI created the Energy Rating Program, with a similar label that clearly indicates the pump’s power consumption and enables a quick calculation of the cost of operation,” Michaud said.
A Central Database
“While clear labeling and initiative programs are great,” Michaud said, “HI felt that a centralized database would also be needed for pump purchasers when selecting a new or replacement pump and for utilities providing the rebates.” Er.pumps.org was developed to list pumps that meet or exceed the new DOE efficiency level, but are also tested in an HI approved lab—offering additional assurance that the efficiency is tested, measured and real.
The newly created database enables look-ups and a quick calculation of savings over the established baseline. Utilities are using it as a qualified product list for incentive programs.
Will there be a new infrastructure bill in 2020? While no one can answer that, it is widely understood that infrastructure improvement is one of the few topics with bipartisan support Washington, D.C.
“When you consider the issues faced in Flint, [Michigan], Newark, [New Jersey] and in the Western U.S., where there is a lack of water, it’s easy to see why we need to increase infrastructure spending,” Michaud said. “It is something we watch closely and it is interesting that Congress is now considering adding green infrastructure language to the bills.” This could mean even more opportunity for savings with the regulated energy efficient pumps.
HI continues to work with Congress in support of these bills. Such legislation would equate to funding for water infrastructure and jobs for the pumps industry in the U.S.
Industry experts hope the big question is not if there will be legislation to support more water infrastructure, but when. And the hope is that it will be in 2020.
SWPA Outlook for 2020
Pumps & Systems recently spoke to the Submersible Wastewater Pump Association’s Executive Director, Adam Stolberg, about expectations for 2020.
P&S: What challenges are you expecting for this year?
Stolberg: The economy is a driving force to the success of our business. This includes housing starts, cap ex spending, interest rates, etc. We also know that the industry typically lags behind the rest of the economy by about 12 to 18 months. The 2020 presidential election and the current situation with tariffs are unknown factors that could potentially have a negative impact.
P&S: Where will we see areas of growth?
Stolberg: Based on our shipment reporting program, grinder pumps continue to be a strong, growing market. Customers like and want grinder pumps and as demand keeps growing, grinder pump offerings will continue to expand.
P&S: Tell us about trends or new products to look out for.
Stolberg: We continue to see increased use of VFDs, and continued sophistication in remote monitoring and SCADA-related controls. Today’s wastewater continues to produce challenges in handling synthetic materials (wipes) so new impeller designs will continue to be developed.
P&S: Any other areas of concern?
Stolberg: The workforce is aging in our industry. We have plant/municipal operators who have been on the job for 30 or 40 years and are now retiring. Their historical knowledge is irreplaceable. This is a good, well-paying industry. We need to get younger engineers involved in this field.
P&S: What’s next for SWPA?
Stolberg: We are revising our two-day training seminar in March in Chicago—new topics, more hands-on demonstrations, CEUs—it will be great.