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Tallahassee Considers Making Pilot Energy Efficiency Program Permanent

Here's the back end of Marpan's wood chipper.
Nick Evans
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Marpan Recycling is on the southern edge of Tallahassee, and it’s a participant in a city energy efficiency program called PeakSmart. 

The facility handles construction, demolition, and what’s known as class three waste –the things in a house that won’t fit in a trash can.  This means Marpan gets a lot of wood, and to deal with it they have a pretty serious wood chipper. 

“It runs on twin 250 horsepower electric motors, so it’s a very high-speed, low-torque machine that gets after it,” says Marpan’s Operations Manager Bryce Hill.  “It’s bad to the bone.”

But all that power requires a lot of energy.

Here's the pile of scrap lumber before it goes through Marpan's wood chipper.
Credit Nick Evans
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Here's the 'before' photo.

As the temperature climbs, demand for energy grows as well.  For the past two years, Tallahassee’s PeakSmart program has improved energy efficiency by temporarily limiting power to participating businesses when demand spikes.  Now the City Commission is looking to make the voluntary program permanent.

Michael Olsen manages the city’s energy efficiency programs, and says PeakSmart works with businesses like Marpan to remotely cut power to unnecessary appliances.

“If there’s some lights that they don’t need, or certain processes, motors that are non-essential, the PeakSmart program is an automated process that can turn those loads off temporarily,” Olsen says.

In exchange, Marpan receives a monthly rebate of $3 per kilowatt they can spare. 

In Marpan’s power room there’s a small beige box posted to the wall – it’s about the size of a ream of printer paper and allows the utility to temporarily cut power to the mulcher when it’s needed elsewhere in the city.

PeakSmart ended in June, but there are plans in the works to bring it back. The Tallahassee City Commission held a public hearing Wednesday to discuss the proposal, and a citizen advisory committee is recommending making PeakSmart a permanent option.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.