The many flavors of energy efficiency

Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t decide which flavor of ice cream to get, so you chose Neapolitan: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry in one? It was the best! Energy efficiency also comes in many flavors – all of which create financial and energy rewards for you, and, through decreased energy use, rewards for the environment.

04/15/2008


Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t decide which flavor of ice cream to get, so you chose Neapolitan: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry in one? It was the best! Energy efficiency also comes in many flavors %%MDASSML%% all of which create financial and energy rewards for you, and, through decreased energy use, rewards for the environment.

Efficiency programs are available from your local utility, and much like Neapolitan ice cream, come in three basic flavors that can be mixed and matched, rather than requiring you to choose just one. The most basic, or vanilla, of the program types provides education and awareness about available technologies, processes and resources that can be applied to your plant to improve energy efficiency.

Educational programs target a range of audiences from plant managers to corporate executives. For plant managers, efficiency programs offer information about available products such as premium efficiency motors and energy efficient lighting options; on-site technical assessments to identify energy savings at your plant or facility; and workshops to help you connect with the vendors and installers of high-efficiency products. For corporate executives, efficiency programs provide information and resources about energy management and how it can improve your company’s bottom line. Oftentimes local utility programs will team up with the Department of Energy (Office of Industrial Technologies) or Environmental Protection Agency (Energy Star) on technical workshops or management seminars.

If you’re looking for more than just the basics, prescriptive programs add more flavor to the education and awareness program option %%MDASSML%% a combination of chocolate and vanilla, if you will. Through prescriptive programs, efficiency programs provide financial incentives in the form of rebates for the purchase of equipment that meets defined efficiency standards. Incentives are paid to the customer or the vendor, or a combination of both.

Prescriptive programs cover multiple measures that can be implemented in the average plant, such as the purchase of NEMA Premium motors, variable speed drives, compact fluorescent lighting and fixtures and high efficiency HVAC equipment.

For example, MidAmerican Energy, the largest utility in Iowa, offers the MidAmerican EnergyAdvantage program ( www.midamericanenergy.com ). Under this program, equipment rebates and financing are available for a variety of measures, including NEMA Premium motors, lighting equipment, heating and cooling equipment and commercial kitchen equipment.

Custom programs offer the most flavorful approach to energy efficiency because they are based on factors specific to your plant. Under this approach, efficiency programs typically support plant assessments, feasibility studies and design assistance for new construction and renovation or expansion projects. Typically, efficiency program staff works with your company to perform an energy audit and establish a customized baseline of your facility’s energy use. Financial incentives for more efficient equipment or process improvements are then based on projected energy savings over the baseline.

For example, Pacific Gas and Electric, one of the largest combination natural gas and electric utilities in the United States, currently offers an efficiency program focused specifically on energy-efficiency opportunities in manufacturing and heavy industry. The program offers customized energy efficiency and demand response incentives for retrofit projects that are not covered by PG&E equipment incentives. Examples of those eligible for customized rebates are pump, fan and air compressor optimization, as well as boiler and chiller efficiency projects. PG&E also provides audit services and design assistance. For more information on PG&E’s custom program for manufacturers, go to www.pge.com , “My Business” section.

Implementing energy efficiency at your plant can have a significantly positive impact on your bottom line and the environment. If a process is not efficient, it’s not sustainable. Many utilities throughout the U.S. and Canada support energy efficiency by offering financial incentives and unbiased technical resources. All you have to do is ask.

To find the programs available in your area of the U.S. or Canada, check out the 2007 Motors and Drives Program summary prepared by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency at www.motormatters.org . CEE is a nonprofit that develops initiatives with its member utilities. The program summary is easy to use, and can be searched by region or utility name.

In 2007, approximately $3.7 billion were dedicated to energy efficiency programs, 47% of which went to the commercial and industrial sectors. Be sure to take advantage of the resources available to you. Check out the program summary or contact your local utility. Chances are you can have your choice of efficiency flavors or a Neapolitan combination of several.


Author Information

Marc Hoffman is executive director of the Boston-based Consortium for Energy Efficiency. More information can be found at its Website,




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