DOE initiative connects manufacturers, no-cost energy audits

Most industrial customers could use some help trimming or managing their energy use, but small utilities serving those businesses often have their hands full just dealing with the day-to-day business of keeping the lights on. Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), set up by the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, may have the solution you and your large key accounts need. 

IACs show small- and medium-sized manufacturers how to improve productivity, reduce waste and save energy. These steps can go a long way toward boosting the competitiveness of commercial and industrial customers. Through IAC offices, local university engineering departments and students work with manufacturers to identify energy-efficiency upgrade opportunities in their facilities. 

Teams of faculty and students perform assessments at no cost to the plants. The assessment begins with a one- or two-day site visit, during which engineering measurements are taken. The team then analyzes their results to make specific recommendations. Within a couple of months, the manufacturer receives a report from the team detailing the analysis, findings and recommendations, including estimates of costs, performance and payback times.

IAC recommendations have averaged about $55,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturer.  IAC assessments are intended for manufacturers with Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes 20-39 located within 150 miles of a host campus. The business must have gross annual sales below $100 million, fewer than 500 employees at the plant site and annual energy bills more than $100,000 and less than $2 million.

There are four IACs located in Western’s territory:

  • Colorado State University
  • Iowa State University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University

In addition to providing technical assistance to manufacturers, the program partner Rutgers University Center for Advanced Energy Systems maintains a massive database of IAC assessment summaries. Cases can be searched by year, SIC code, NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code, energy cost, state, products or center. Each record describes the plant (but not the name), and includes a list of recommended measures with the estimated cost and saving of each.

Visitors can also find a description of the assessment process the industrial plant can expect. Additional resources, including a training manual, a self-assessment workbook for small manufacturers and case studies are also available.  Source: Energy Experts, 7/9/14