Consultant Tells Arkansas Manufacturers To Take ‘Energy Efficiency’ Seriously

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 53 views 

A Tennessee consultant told an overflow luncheon crowd in downtown Little Rock on Wednesday that industrial energy efficiency has to be part of a company’s core business strategy, “not part of a sustainability checklist.”

“Really, energy efficiency comes down to this: companies (that) are successful take it seriously,” said Rick Marsh, founder and executive director of The Industrial Energy Efficiency Network in Nashville, Tenn.

Currently, Marsh serves as an advisor to the Tennessee Valley Authority, sits on the board for the Industrial Energy Technology Conference and is a contributor for various state and national level working groups that support the creation and adoption of energy efficiency resources -– including the State and Local Energy Efficiency (SEE) Action Network and the National Governors’ Association Policy Academy Program.

In his hour-long presentation at Little Rock’s Copper Grill attended by manufacturing and utility executives, and top state energy officials and regulators — including John Bethel, executive director of the state Public Service Commission — Marsh discussed a range of best management practices that industrial and commercial ratepayers are implementing that make sense and are cost-effective.

Some of the other topics Marsh touched on included:

· Energy savings project trends ranging from the “low-hanging fruit” to ways that further reduce energy intensity as an energy program matures;

· Approaches to energy management from advanced systems to low cost practices that are immediately actionable — including unique opportunities with employee engagement; and

· The potential for utility partnerships that underscore the critical role stakeholders play in advancing energy efficiency in manufacturing facilities.

Marsh said one of the great lessons learned from his observations of top corporations — such as Nissan, Alcoa Coca-Cola and Denso Manufacturing — is that successful energy efficiency programs are taken very seriously at all levels -– from the executive suite to the manufacturing floor.

“Get engagement at the top and engagement at the bottom, and everywhere in between,” Marsh said.

The Tennessee consultant added that there is great opportunity in Arkansas for more collaborative efforts between utilities and industrial manufacturers in the area of energy efficiency.

Marsh closed his presentation by telling the roomful of Arkansas energy management officials to get their companies to publicly state the goals they are seeking to achieve. “This is something that you can hang your hat on, and then build on,” he said.

The luncheon program was the first in a series sponsored by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation (AAEF) to highlight advanced energy technologies that add value in jobs and energy cost savings to the Arkansas economy.

AAEF president Steve Patterson said the foundation is already planning its next program for the speakers’ series. He said that event in July will focus on how Arkansas companies, utilities and industrial manufacturers plan to address the highly-anticipated carbon emission reductions, which the federal Environmental Protection Agency will announce in early June.

Those new EPA rules are expected to crack down on so-called “dirty air emissions” from power plants. Patterson said AAEF is negotiating with a “high-profile” speaker to headline the July luncheon, which he hopes to announce in a few weeks.

“A lot of companies don’t really know about this,” Patterson said. To date, the EPA has held 11 public listening sessions across the country to solicit ideas and input from the public and stakeholders about the best Clean Air Act approaches to reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Following the June announcement, the EPA will seek additional public input during its “notice and comment” period.

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