Energy efficiency makes good business sense

Matt Powell   

Business Operations Industry Operations Sustainability Energy Government Manufacturing clean energy clean technology cleantech energy efficiency IESO Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) Kathleen Wynne Ontario Operations

The message is clear: Ontario will be greener and industry will be participating…

The high cost of Ontario’s electricity is a concern for manufacturers grappling with bloated bills with more costs to come as the province’s cap and trade emissions reduction scheme looms.

The Liberal government doesn’t have a very good record when it comes to managing energy, what with the ongoing criminal cases against two former McGuinty aides over two cancelled gas plants, or its sloppy approach to renewable energy development.

Taxpayers may as well have tossed money into backyard fire pits, except they’d probably get dinged for the carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, the Wynne government is attempting to cast shade on the bungling of its predecessor, committing Ontario to more aggressive sustainability targets, the development of cleaner technologies and operational energy efficiencies.
The message is clear: Ontario will be greener and industry will be participating.


Since that’s the reality, manufacturers must do a better job of their energy management by taking advantage of cleaner technologies and making use of incentives to improve operations.

In February, Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the province would invest nearly $100 million from the $325 million Ontario Green Investment Fund to develop projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, support cleantech innovation and create jobs. The commitments include $25 million for a study to be led by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters that will examine energy efficiency and identify how investments in advanced technologies and productivity are impeding the sector.

Investment in Canadian clean energy rose by 88% in 2014 to nearly $11 billion, according to Clean Energy Canada. Almost half of that was in Ontario, where more than 20,000 megawatts of (more costly) renewable energy capacity is to be online by 2025. That represents about half of the province’s installed capacity.

So how green is your plant? How does energy efficiency (meaning conservation) fit into your strategy?

Annex Business Media (publisher of PLANT) and the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) conducted a study of how manufacturers must better manage electricity use. The report, which provides insights from 510 companies, found 51% of them identified energy management as a priority, but most had not taken action to increase their energy efficiency; 56% didn’t have energy efficiency targets and 62% hadn’t performed an energy audit in the past five years. The 85% that had completed an energy audit reported cost savings.

SMEs, which make up over 99% of the province’s businesses, may argue they don’t have the resources to make energy efficiency a priority, but there is help and it’s relatively easy to access. IESO’s SaveONEnergy program helps small businesses with the installation costs of energy efficient equipment and improving the efficiency of their buildings. The program completed more than 81,000 projects between 2011 and 2014, saving more than 600 gigawatt-hours of electricity.

One project involved a Windsor-based automotive parts supplier that cut its energy costs by $168,000 annually. The company received an incentive of more than $71,000 (about 50% of total project costs) after completing an audit by its local utility. It identified the plant’s air compressor system as an opportunity for savings. The system didn’t have a “turndown” capability and was needlessly wasting energy.

A new compressor system was installed along with a sequencing unit and new dryers to reduce energy demand by 206 kilowatts, translating into energy savings of more than 1.7 million kilowatt-hours.

Between setting and shattering NHL records, Wayne Gretzky once said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Manufacturers would be wise to consider the Great One’s advice.


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