Reduce Operating Costs with Strategic Energy Management (SEM)

A man in a hard hat working on lumbar in a lumberyard

There’s an old adage that says, with crisis comes opportunity. For many Oregon industrial facilities, it may be hard to think about bright spots resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet, opportunities do exist for industrial companies that want to use this time to focus on optimizing production and driving down operating costs using no- and low-cost practices. With the help of Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management (SEM) offering, industrial facilities can reduce energy waste right away and establish a foundation for ongoing energy improvement.

“As sites re-open, companies may find that capital investments to improve operations are hard to come by,” said Kati Harper, program manager at Energy Trust. “This is a great time for facilities that want to trim operating costs to do so without investing any capital. And with cash incentives now doubled for SEM energy savings, it is even more expedient.”

log cranes in a lumberyard

SEM provides technical resources and coaches to help facilities systematically reduce energy intensity and maximize energy savings. More than 220 Oregon manufacturing sites have already participated, with most reporting energy savings of 5-10% as a result of their experience. Other than staff time to participate in the program, there’s no cost for the training, technical services or energy assessments.

Upon enrollment, participants join a cohort of their peers to receive customized coaching and technical support, an assessment of energy management practices, and strategies to build employee engagement. And, an energy “treasure hunt” puts employees in the lead to uncover site-wide energy-saving opportunities.

“People are often surprised at how many quick wins can be found,” said Harper. “Typically, employees discover at least 30 specific no- and low-cost ways to save energy at each site.”

A man working on machinery

Mindful of current guidelines for group gatherings and in-person meetings, Energy Trust has adapted its SEM curriculum, including workshops and coaching sessions, to deliver services virtually. Upon completion of the year-long SEM experience, sites are eligible for cash incentives from Energy Trust for verified energy savings. The recent increase in incentive levels goes even further to help facilities reduce operating costs.

“Just because we talk about no- and low-cost practices, doesn’t mean it is no or low-impact,” reinforced Harper.

“Facilities learn they can have a sizable impact by optimizing existing equipment and changing culture around energy. When all employees are aware of energy use in the facility, it can have a big effect right away and over the long-term.”

For more information and to learn if your site is eligible, talk to your PDC or visit our website to find your PDC.