Seoul Energy Planners are qualified consultants who provide a comprehensive service that includes measuring energy use, analyzing usage pattern and offering solutions to save energy for small-sized building and other commercial facilities.
Creating Sustainable Job While Solving Energy Issue
The Seoul Energy Planners program is part of Seoul’s New Deal Jobs, an initiative that took off in 2013. Creating New Deals jobs is important because it helps job seekers find a stable employment. But the significance of the program also lies in the enhanced public service that the Planners provide to the general public.
As part of the green employment initiative that is implemented in line with the city’s One Less Nuclear Power Plant Policy, the Energy Planners are hired by SMG to provide specialized consulting on energy related issues. Examples of their service include analyzing energy usage patterns and offering solutions to cut energy use and hence the bills.
The city government gets directly involved in nurturing the energy consultants; it not only hires them but also provides them with job training and equipping them with expertise to perform their duties.
During the contract, energy consultants are constantly provided with career consulting services or sometimes they are dispatched to private energy companies for more job experiences. The multilayered support system prepares the potential talents to either find a job or start their own business in the energy sector. There were 150 such consultants in 2013, the first year of implementation. In the following year, 95 were chosen as the Energy Planners. The consultants were allowed to continue employment in 9 cooperatives or NGOs in the energy sector that were newly established.
Finding Unnoticed Energy Waste
Energy Consulting to Small Buildings and Businesses
The current regulation requires all large building, big corporations and factories to undergo regular energy inspections. However, this regulation does not apply to self-employed and small-scale buildings or businesses. This is where the consultants come in. Qualified energy consultants provide free energy checkup services to the otherwise unregulated entities; In fact, in 2013 they inspected 1,206 businesses including restaurants, kindergartens, public bath, accommodations and religious institutions. In 2014, the number of businesses who used the consulting service grew up 1,562. There was a noticeable progress in energy-saving records in the businesses that received such services; 72.1% of businesses reduced electricity use by an average of 12.2%. This is equivalent to 2.81GHw of electricity, or KRW 300 million. The result shows a welcoming sign not only in terms of monetary benefits but also in terms of its environmental impact.
Specific tasks of energy consultants include analyzing energy usage pattern and giving instructions on how to save energy from heating/cooling or electric devices. For example, they recommend replacing the old electronic appliances or lightings to high-efficient ones. Better yet, they give specific data on how much the suggested measure would cost, how much energy bills they can cut, and most importantly at what point they can recover the initial investment. Consultants also recommend the best electricity plan for each household, based upon usage history. Overall, efforts of Energy Planners have proven to relieve financial burden on many of Seoul citizens.
Energy Saving Campaign
A wide range of information gathered by energy consultants are sometimes used as the basis of policy formulation and energy-saving campaigns. For instance, energy consultants initiated an idea for a campaign to encourage energy-hogging businesses to turn off electric signage and outdoor lighting devices when unnecessary. The campaign bore fruits as 5,065 businesses out of 13,000 in Seoul took park in the campaign and saved 6.8 million kWh of electricity a year, enough to power 1,800 households for an entire year.
Seoul also launched a campaign that informs the public to turn off water purifiers when not in use. The campaign was initiated from the findings that turning off water purifiers, which consume more power than refrigerators, can save half the electricity. An easy tool to put this knowledge into action is a power strip with individual switches that makes it easy to turn off devices not in use. Energy consultants actually helped install this energy-saving device to businesses they visited in addition to informing them of the need to turn off the device after closure.
Another campaign led by energy consultants was getting rid of incandescent lights in traditional markets. To this end, consultants joined hands with environment groups and lighting companies and visited many traditional markets in Seoul to inform them of the benefits of LED lights. As a result, 1,777 incandescent lights were replaced with LED lightings. This led to an annual savings of 1,319,835 kWh of electricity, enough to power 4,230 households for a full year.
Energy welfare is an important part of what the Energy Planners do. The so-called energy-poor are those whose spending on energy exceeds 10% of their total spending, and 10.3% of Seoul’s population fall into the energy-poor category. The consultants strive to meet their demands and make their lives better. One of the projects for the group was LED replacement. For energy-poor populations, consultants personally visited their households and replaced the traditional lightings with LED lamps as well as offering them other energy-saving devices. In 2014, 1,163 households replaced lightings with LED, leading to s monthly reduction of KRW 1,500 on electricity bills. Meanwhile, consultants pay particular attention to underprivileged people who need the most support. For instance, consultants offered insulation products such as wind-cover, paper weather strip, etc. to enhance the energy efficiency at home.
Serving Two Ends : Energy and Employment
Reemployment and Startup
Seoul continues to support the consultants even after the contract expires. For example, Seoul has signed an MOU with companies in the energy sector to provide the ex-consultants training opportunities, internship or even jobs. Some consultants use their experiences as Seoul Energy Planner to get another stable job or start a company themselves.
Meanwhile, many women whose career has been interrupted find the New Deal jobs very useful, too. 94 of the people who served as consultants are now hired in the private sector, 3 found a company themselves, and the rest are finding meaningful works at cooperatives and NGOs.
Job Creation for Energy Sector
The Energy Planners play an important role promoting Seoul’s One Less Nuclear Power Plant policy to other municipalities in Korea. As a result, Busan, Yongin, Seongnam, Bupyeong-gu have benchmarked Seoul’s exemplary case are currently formulating a program similar to Seoul’s New Deal job. Clearly, this public employment creation initiative of Seoul is being widely replicated across the nation.