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GE Lighting Asked The Right Questions. They Needed Help Finding the Right Answers

General Electric was good at identifying energy-related areas of improvement. They used the Energy Coach Program to develop the solutions.

“The Energy Coach Program guides us, helping us to develop and then follow a detailed step by step roadmap to saving energy dollars. The assistance available to me includes idea generation as well as practical solutions tailored to my own situation.” – John Snider, G.E. Lighting

As General Electric carried out their yearly Treasure Hunt for efficiency measures, the lighting plant in Oakville was left with a laundry list of items to pursue for efficiency improvements. However, they did not have an action plan on how to tackle these items.

With the formulation of their Energy Team, they attended the Sustainable Energy Plan training workshop to get started. They quickly learned how to identify possible savings without capital investment. They targeted rest periods, evenings and weekends. They began using their daily energy reports to track improvements in their hourly profile. A 45% reduction in non-production periods was achieved in 2007. Plant shut down procedures have been written and measured to ensure this process continues and the low hanging fruit does not grow back. This site is seen as one of the premier sites in their division for energy reduction initiatives!

In addition, awareness programs were launched by formulating teams for each process line. The various teams then designed their own shut down procedures and checklists and had points allocated to each item. The shut down practices were monitored by energy alarming and team points were displayed on the plant’s energy board. At the same time, the site began tackling capital projects. Improvements included the make up air system, heat recovery from various pump rooms, a boiler replacement, compressed air isolation valves, spot cooling elimination, variable speed drives, elimination of all air vibrators, and a gas monitoring project for a real time system. All these projects were coordinated with the local utilities for incentive applications from Oakville Hydro and Union Gas.

A project template has been developed to help clearly define the projects and supply the utility with information ahead of time to schedule any applicable incentive program. All the projects have led to annual savings of over $200,000. For their efforts, the plant was rewarded with energy savings kits for their homes. The Energy Coach and Union Gas coordinated the delivery of over 400 savings kits to the plant and launched an employee appreciation event thanking the staff for their hard work over the year. With materials to save over $150 on their annual gas and water bill, the employees were more than happy to participate. The launch included an energy board with plant statistics on energy savings and awareness pieces. Projects in 2008 are estimated to be in the $300,000 range.

Background Information

In February 2007, 360 Energy partnered with Union Gas and Enbridge Gas to provide industrial consumers in Ontario with a fresh approach to generating sustainable energy savings. The program was developed with four distinct phases, each aimed at providing valuable lessons and feedback for participants. The program was created to assist sites in making the leap from energy study to implementation. Many of the sites had previous energy audits conducted but as with most energy projects, the report quickly found its way to the nearest space on a shelf.

The Coach program was developed to take advantage of the previously completed work and find a path to implementing energy savings projects, and not necessarily spending capital to do so. For sites that had no previous energy use studies conducted, a new walk-through was done to identify quick targets for energy savings with the help of local gas utilities. At the same time, 360 Energy held energy interviews with various disciplines within the facility to gain an understanding of how different departments view and are responsible for energy use on a day-to-day basis. Armed with this information, the facility was then ready to tackle their energy projects.

Typically, companies do not integrate energy management within the company, it is usually left to one person or possibly a department. Consequently, a business plan may never have been developed for energy. Some organizations might have a technical checklist. This approach does not distinguish priorities, or develop a business case for upper management to gain support for these projects.

As a result, in the second phase of the Energy Coach program, participants are formally trained so that they can communicate with upper management. Participants attend a 1-day “Sustainable Energy Plan Training Workshop” where they were guided through the process of rating their organization in terms of a business approach to energy management. After this workshop, the participants are able to leave re-energized with templates and examples to create their own sustainable energy plan.

During the next 30 days, participants develop an energy plan where 360 Energy supports them in the way of answering any questions, comments, and help topics while going through the exercise. One of the items that the sites are responsible for is to identify core and non-core members of their energy team. Once the plan is completed it is to be presented to Senior management so they can receive a signed mandate to ensure the team receives on going support based on the planned activity. With this living document, the site is ready to commence phase 3.

During the 3rd phase of the program, participants are guided through their energy plan and taken from planning to implementation. In this phase, the sites participate in various exercises including best practices developed in the UK (Carbon Trust) and Canada (NRCan’s). The exercises cover business concerns as well as technical issues. Clients are educated and supported in executing their plan by focusing on specific areas over a 2-month period by targeting energy teams, employee awareness, energy monitoring, air compressors, lighting, fans, pumps, and their heating/air conditioning system. Customers not only have a better understanding of technical opportunities but are also exposed to pricing and energy market drivers. Upper management and the supporting utility receive a quarterly update on energy savings to date and note forecasted activity for future energy management activity.

All the energy practices and exercises are broken down into 3 categories: processes, programs, and projects. During the energy coach process, participants are shown how to prioritize and develop a decision model and not solely focus on capital projects. The sites were also made aware of all utility and federal incentive programs they could pursue, and the timelines associated with each. With this, they are then walked through the process to ensure the practice will be sustainable in future years. The applications are filled out with the customer and the utility rep. Future projects are also discussed with the utility to determine when applications and what details will be needed ahead of time. This information is to be used during the revision of the sustainable energy plan

Networking with other 360 Energy Coach participants is the 4th phase and is critical because it reinforces what companies can do if they properly position energy management within their company. The Energy Coach program has three networking sessions where all customers from various disciplines learn what best practices worked for each site. Participants, utility representatives and 360 Energy are present to hear the challenges and successes faced by each site. The session has been a great success in the past as noted on the feedback forms. The following are samples of the case studies from sites currently enrolled in the program.