Did you know that our government will go into your plant and assess your energy use - for free?

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy so much wants our country to lead the world in energy efficiency and productivity, that it has a pretty solid program to back its mission. The Industrial Technologies Program sponsors assessment centers that specialize in analyzing the energy use of eligible small- and medium-size manufacturing facilities with gross annual sales below $100 million and fewer than 400 employees at the site.

I explored the government web site, which lists loads of past assessments and recommendations. For example, in May, a maker of carbonated soft drinks learned it spent $781,038 annually on electricity and natural gas to run its process and plant. Then it underwent its cost-free assessment. Projected savings if it follows all 18 recommendations is $155,274. Payback times vary depending on the recommendation. For instance, if the plant spent $12,000 to modify its refrigeration system to operate at a lower pressure, it would save $39,022 a year with a short three-month payback. Recovering heat from refrigeration condensers would cost $2,000 to implement, save $10,974 and take two months to make back the outlay. All 18 recommendations are on the government’s web site.

Another assessment suggested that an ice cream and frozen dessert company install $1,200 worth of vinyl strip/high speed/air curtain doors to save $9,385 for a one-month payback. For $3,000, it could recover heat from its air compressor, save $3,929, and figure on a five-month payback.

According to the program’s web site, recommendations from industrial assessments average about $55,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturer. I suggest you explore the site on your own at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/bestpractices/plant_assessments.html. From there, you can find center locations, example assessments and much more.

Anne Armel, Group Publisher, ArmelA@bnpmedia.com