Green, Like Money

For almost all manufacturers, really significant operating costs reductions can be realized through energy efficiency technology. And energy efficiency, with its corresponding greenhouse gas reduction, is an ideal place to get started with Sustainability. There is a lot of practical technology available, and more becomes available every day. Power bill reductions of 20% or more are not idle dreams. What is more, power costs, per kilowatt hour, aren’t likely to decrease any time soon.

Smaller manufacturers face two serious impediments to putting energy efficiency technology to work for them. First, somebody has to do the engineering and project management. Second, the technology isn’t free, and capital is hard to come by, even for high ROI improvements.

For the technical assistance, talk to your nearest Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center. MEPs provide the “feet on the pavement” component of the National Institute for Science and Technology. NIST is part of the Department of Commerce. MEPs are contractual partnerships between NIST and local resources, often universities. There are MEPs in every State. Because MEPs are usually non-profits with government and institutional support, their fees are quite reasonable. You can find your local MEP at Click on the map for local contact information.

For the money, talk to your power utility. Many utilities offer incentives for businesses to acquire energy efficiency technology. For example, in central Arizona, where I live, the local utility offers cash rebates that may be up to 50% of the installed cost of the energy saving equipment. In addition to direct incentives, there may be low interest financing available from the utility, or from the installation contractors the utility partners with. The cash incentives, tax incentives and financing are specific to each utility and locality.

Fortunately, there is an on-line incentives database available at Dsire (Database of State Incentives for Renewable & Efficiency) is administered by North Carolina State University, but covers the whole country.  The Dsire website has two separate sections, one for energy efficiency incentives and the other for renewable energy incentives. It is easy to confuse the two, so heads up.

Comments and experience reports are appreciated.

… Chuck