Manufacturers and utilities working together to cut energy use: case studies

October 21, 2015
We have uncovered new information on the benefits of industrial energy efficiency programs, with the findings published in a SEE Action report

Four new case studies, published this month, show that United States manufacturers can reap huge mutual benefits by partnering with utilities on industrial energy efficiency programs.

The paper, Sustained Energy Savings Achieved through Successful Industrial Customer Interaction with Ratepayer Programs, looks at four industrial companies that benefited from participation in their utility's energy efficiency program offerings.  IIP was commissioned by the State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) to interview the case study firms and write the paper.

The companies interviewed were:

  • Blood technology manufacturer, Terumo BCT, which participates in a ratepayer-funded program administered by Xcel Energy
  • Roquette America, a manufacturer of an artificial sweetener, which is part of a ratepayer-funded program administered by North Shore Gas
  • Logan Aluminum, a direct-serve customer of the Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Husky Injection Molding Systems, which participates in a ratepayer-funded program administered by Efficiency Vermont

The companies identified two main benefits to participating in the programs: customized technical assistance and support, and financial incentives to help reduce upfront investment costs. Each of the four participating companies achieved considerable energy and cost savings through energy efficiency projects.

Author Amelie Goldberg, IIP’s Senior Manager for US and Global Programs, says the case studies show that, if designed and implemented well, industrial efficiency programs can be very attractive and effective for industrial customers.

“The customer case studies show the featured companies are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on their energy bills each year from projects implemented in partnership with their utility or program administrator. In three of the four cases, these significant financial savings would in all likelihood not have been obtained without the support of the local ratepayer-financed programs. The programs also provided incentives to buy down upfront costs to levels where payback periods met acceptable levels to the companies,” she says. 

“The case studies also emphasize that successful programs require a hands-on, customized approach. Large energy users have differing needs so, to get the most value from the technical expertise, program personnel need to demonstrate an understanding of the plant’s processes and its specific energy needs and concerns. Some program staff in the case studies went one step further and worked as part of the energy team at the facility to provide project identification, packaging, implementation, and evaluation assistance.”

IIP has partnered with SEE Action on a number of other reports, including the influential guide, Industrial Energy Efficiency: Designing Effective State Programs for the Industrial Sector, which was published in 2014. More white papers exploring other issues related to industrial energy efficiency programs are scheduled for later in the year.

SEE Action is a US-based network that offers resources, discussion forums, and technical assistance on energy efficiency to key state and local decision-makers. It is facilitated by the US Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.