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Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy, one of the largest combined electric and natural gas utilities in the United States, is a recognized industry leader in delivering renewable energy and relies on Innovas Technologies to help reduce carbon and keep the company on a path to a more sustainable energy future.

Innovas Technologies Case Study

“We used a third party to validate Innovas’ savings numbers and they turned out better than claimed.”

Mike O’Malley | Cooling Plant Manager


Xcel Energy is one of the largest combined electric and natural gas utilities in the country and is a recognized industry leader in delivering renewable energy and reducing carbon and other emissions, efforts that put the company on a path to a more sustainable energy future.

Specifically, Xcel Energy provides power generation and district cooling services in 8 states in the western, southern and midwestern US.

Capable of generating over 17,000 MWs of power, Xcel Energy serves over 3.3 million electricity customers and over 1.4 million natural gas customers throughout its service area.  Also, Xcel Energy provides district cooling in Colorado.


Xcel Energy is a highly innovative company as demonstrated by its announcement in 2018 that it aspires to deliver 100% carbon- free electricity to customers by
2050 – the first major US utility company to set such an ambitious goal.

Mike O’Malley, embracing Xcel Energy’s commitment to sustainability excellence, found an opportunity to significantly improve chiller efficiency in the district cooling plant he manages in Denver, Colorado.

Mike’s knowledge of the negative effects of condenser tube fouling and his search for a method to improve chiller efficiency led him to Innovas Technologies for the solution.

Trial Details

Mike O’Malley, embracing Xcel Energy’s commitment to sustainability excellence, utilized the Helios Tube Cleaning System to significantly improve chiller efficiency in the district cooling plant he manages in Denver, Colorado.
Heat Exchanger

Energy Savings

765,000 kW-hrs


GHG reduction of 582 tons.

Use Case


As is so often the case, adopting innovative technology requires a high degree of evaluation and consideration regarding a new approach’s impact.

In Xcel Energy’s case, Mr. O’Malley knew there was room to improve chiller efficiency through tube fouling management. Subsequently, Mike served as the thought leader for integrating the Helios Tube Cleaning System® onto a single 2,500-ton chiller for a seasonal evaluation.

The plant has excellent data acquisition systems and in Mike’s opinion, it would be easy to determine the impact of the Helios installation over the course of a complete cooling season.

In Xcel Energy’s case, the biggest challenge was freeing capital funds to purchase a Helios TCS on a short notice. Mike O’Malley was successful
in finding a funding opportunity and was able to program in the new system.

Once funded, the evaluation was enacted. Mike understood the large potential savings and was the key leader in getting the program started.



Installed on a 2,500-ton chiller in the downtown Denver Central Cooling Plant, the Helios Tube Cleaning System® was run throughout the normal cooling season in 2018.  Chiller operation and performance data was recorded from the same chiller from 2017 before it was equipped with the Helios.

As the data demonstrate, the Helios Tube Cleaning System® significantly improved chiller efficiency and increased chiller cooling output during the 2018 cooling season.


The lesson continues to be reinforced at Helios Tube Cleaning System® installations throughout the country.  As previously stated, when the tubes on either side of a chiller remain clean and free of fouling, the chiller efficiency improves, and operating costs reduce.  This is a generally well-known fact, but it is sometimes hard to quantify.

In Xcel Energy’s case the savings are solidified by the data and equate to a solid payback. Most organizations ask the same question, “We believe the data at the other facilities, but how much will the system save us at our organization?” The answer can usually be found by analyzing the historical chiller operations data.

Assuming the data is supplied by reliable/calibrated sensors, the approximate cost of fouling-related inefficiency can be identified.  Once the data is analyzed a consistent truth is exposed.  No facility using water-cooled chillers is immune from fouling-related loss. None. Until now.

While typical chiller tube-fouling losses will vary from place to place based on the quality of the water source, local air quality, and water treatment programs, the growing data collection from chillers operating with Helios systems confidently suggests a savings of 6% to 10% in energy expense at over 70% of locations. The remaining 30% is split equally with half experiencing efficiency losses above 10% and half below 6% savings opportunity.

How far below?

The lowest potential efficiency improvement in an evaluated chiller has been 3.5%.  Its payback was still under 3.5 years. With the introduction of the Helios Tube Cleaning System®, the tube fouling-related waste can be completely eliminated.

Xcel Energy - Fig 1


Consistent with the results from other installations, the chiller showed immediate results after Helios installation, even with a sophisticated water treatment program already in place.  In 2017, prior to installation of the Helios system, the chiller ran consistently less efficiently than it did in 2018 after the installation of the Helios.  As demonstrated in Figure 1, with a Chilled Water Supply temperature (CHWST) of 38F and Entering Condenser Water Temperature (ECWT) of 75F, the chiller efficiency improved by an average of 9%.  When the ECWT increased to 80 F, as shown in Figure 2, the average chiller efficiency improved by 12%. Additionally, the chiller cooling output capacity increased due to improved heat transfer, with the chiller producing as much as 200 tons of additional cooling as shown in Figure 3.

In 2018 Xcel Energy achieved optimal efficiency in one of their downtown Denver Central Plant chillers because of the adoption of the Helios Tube Cleaning System®.  The result is significant cost savings and improved sustainability.  The Helios result is consistent benefits ncluding energy cost savings, and reduced reenhouse gas emissions.  Additionally, the workload associated with tube fouling in the Central Heating and Cooling Plant chillers was eliminated.

Xcel Energy - Fig 2

Fig 2.

Chiller Efficiency Comparison from 2017 (pre-Helios) to 2018 (post-Helios) at 80 F Entering Condenser Water Temperature.
Figure 2 University of Wisconsin

Fig 3.

Increased Chiller 2 Capacity Vs Chiller 1 Due to Clean Tubes at Entering Condenser Water Temperature at 75 Degrees F.

Take the Next Step

Learn how the Helios Tube Cleaning System® from Innovas improves the energy efficiency of cooling systems.