Montaplast North America, Inc. is replacing almost 1,200 halide lights with high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures at its Frankfort, KY, facility. | Photo Courtesy of Montaplast |
In a challenging economy, many companies are forced to lay off workers to keep doors open. But officials from Kentucky's energy and economic offices have another idea: cut energy use—not staff—to save money.
“We want to keep our Kentucky-based plants competitive,” says Greg Guess, director for efficiency and conservation for the state’s Department for Energy Development and Independence (DEDI). “And a good way to do that is to keep their costs down.”
To help achieve this goal, DEDI partnered with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development to award four manufacturing companies up to $300,000 each to replace old, inefficient lighting with more advanced energy-efficient options. The funds, totaling $787,000, came from State Energy Program and were awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Companies were selected in a competitive process that rated their ability to retain and create jobs, especially green jobs, and the amount of energy saved with the grant money invested.
Powering down to save
One of the companies chosen, Montaplast North America, Inc., which makes durable plastic parts for cars, is replacing 1,168 halide lights with high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures at its Frankfort, Ky., campus. The company used its $280,500 award from the Recovery Act to help pay for the replacements.
Kevin Buehner, Montaplast’s controller, says the facility will save about $100,000 a year with the upgrades. By the end of this summer, the 650,000-square-foot facility and associated buildings will be illuminated with energy-efficient lights.
Saving energy puts money in the company’s pockets, which keeps people employed. "In order to be competitive, you have to take your energy consumption seriously," says Buehner. Montaplast maintains a workforce of 750 employees and has created several green jobs to manage their sustainability goals.
“Our [company’s] color is green,” he says. “But we really do want to be green on the inside, as well as on the outside.”
The new light fixtures will reduce the company’s carbon emissions by about 2,425,000 pounds.The lighting is just one component of Montaplast’s efforts to reduce energy consumption. After an energy audit late last year that identified areas for improvement, the company limited the number of times equipment was powered up and down and monitored and reduced peak usage. Understanding that and making changes in equipment usage could save the company over $1 million a year, according to Buehner.
“We want to be a responsible corporate partner in our community,” says Buehner. “We really want to protect the environment where we live and work. And we hope other companies do as well.”
Other companies to receive the award from Kentucky's energy and economic offices: Florida Tile, Inc., in Lawrenceburg, General Electric Co, Aviation Division in Madisonville, and Sekisui Specialty Chemicals America LLC in Calvert City.