Hoping to turn energy efficiency into cash for infrastructure improvements, officials with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority have released a blueprint for cutting costs over the next three years.
SEPTA has a $5 billion backlog of infrastructure improvements. The new plan would free up an estimated $6.6 million over the next three years.
Despite that significant gap, authority officials lauded the plan as step forward.
“The benefits of advancing these plans will benefit SEPTA in the short- and long-term,” said SEPTA General Manager Joseph M. Casey, in a statement released with the report. “The steps outlined in the Energy Action Plan will help ensure SEPTA is prepared to serve customers now and for generations to come.”
The outline was released Monday in a report titled: “SEPTA Energy Action Plan; A Strategy to Achieve Performance Targets for Energy & GHG Emissions.”
Transit officials estimate that the plan will help SEPTA save $2.2 million annually through 2015 by cutting energy use by 10 percent. As energy costs rise, officials said, additional savings could be realized.
Energy usage data included in the report was based on an audit done last year.
At that time, diesel fuel represented 47 percent of the authority’s energy consumption and cost the agency $39.2 million. That was followed by electricity, which made up 31 percent of SEPTA’s energy use at a cost of $47 million. Gasoline and natural gas made up about 5 percent of SEPTA’s energy consumption at a cost of $5 million and $3.2 million respectively. Heating oil represented just 1.4 percent of consumption and steam generation .9 percent at a price tag of roughly $966,000 and $987,000 each.
Under the new plan, SEPTA hopes to save about $3.7 million annually in the cost of diesel fuel, $4.9 million in cost of electricity and roughly $183,000 savings in heating oil.
The cost of gas is expected to go up, costing an extra $306,000 a year. Natural gas prices are also expected to rise, costing the agency about $6.7 million more annually.
Among the items expected to generate the savings were: shifting to biodiesel blend fuel, use of hybrid electric buses, use of new energy efficient subway cars.
Though the report did not lay out what SEPTA would do with the additional money, the agency hopes to use the shift to increased efficiency to turn savings into cash by leveraging additional funds from the state and federal government through things like tax credits and energy efficiency grants.
The authority has already been cutting energy use. Since 2009, energy consumption has been reduced by 2.9 percent for a saving of $6.9 million in that period.
Approximately 500,000 people a day use SEPTA trains, buses and trolleys in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.
To read the full Energy Action Plan, visit http://septa.org/sustain/pdf/energyaction12.pdf.