Where the savings are: Serving the customer’s highest priorities

by Carol Weston, Efficiency Vermont Director of Programs and Implementation

Jeffrey Nelb, Vice President & General Manager at Vermont Castings, where Efficiency Vermont’s approaches cut annual energy costs by more than $80K.

This past winter, when Efficiency Vermont Account Manager Brad Long started an energy assessment of the Vermont Castings plant in Randolph he expected to find energy saving opportunities. That’s because the woodstove manufacturing company had only recently been purchased by owners committed to modernizing the decades-old facility. So, when Brad spotted inefficient systems like lighting, the discovery was fairly typical for a building overdue for upgrades. But when Brad stepped into the air compressor room, what he saw was far from ordinary.

The 20-year-old compressors were leaking lubricating oil at a rate high enough to fill six large barrels per year. To make matters worse, the room was directly below the plant’s electrical transformers.

“The plant manager knew this was a risk for fire and power loss,” said Brad, whose job as Vermont Casting’s designated Efficiency Vermont energy advisor requires knowledge of his customers’ specialized operations. “If a foundry powers down long enough, the metal hardens in the furnaces. A furnace like that may never recover. The plant manager was doing all he could about the leaks, but he needed help finding a lasting solution.”

Brad brought in an engineering firm to help identify a new location for compressors at the facility. Today, the relocated compressor room operates with new, efficient equipment recommended by Efficiency Vermont. Vermont Castings has also acted on Brad’s recommendation to upgrade foundry lighting to LEDs, improving safety for workers. In all, actions stemming from last winter’s walkthrough will save Vermont Castings more than $80 thousand in energy costs each year.

Efficiency Vermont’s Continuous Energy Improvement approach

Brad’s actions, which considered his customer’s highest priorities, are part of Efficiency Vermont’s  Continuous Energy Improvement (CEI) approach to serving customers. Efficiency Vermont’s Account Managers engage the state’s largest energy users in CEI to take a comprehensive, long-term view of energy use at every phase of operations and to plan efficiency upgrades according to customers’ needs.

“As objective energy advisors, we can’t just recommend the latest efficient equipment and call that success,” said Brad. “No matter how great that equipment is, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Only by thinking about the whole facility and the customer’s priorities over time can we help find the optimal actions for energy savings now and on an ongoing basis. Business operators have a vision for what they want their operations to be. It’s our job to be part of the process of getting there.”

Vermont Casting’s commitment to efficiency, as a key strategy in reducing overhead and strengthening its position as a Vermont employer, has not gone unnoticed. Recent media attention on substantial plant modernizations has prompted coverage in Vermont Digger, The Herald of Randolph, and Valley News.

Learn more about Efficiency Vermont’s CEI approach. Get information about reducing energy in Vermont commercial facilities, municipalities, institutions, and households.

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