Like all mill operations, Boise Cascade’s Kinzua sawmill uses a lot of energy. That energy use translates into operating costs that affect the bottom line and impact the mill’s ability to stay competitive. When Energy Trust invited the Eastern Oregon mill to participate in its Strategic Energy Management initiative, mill management saw an opportunity to trim operating costs without sacrificing productivity or quality.
By participating in Strategic Energy Management, the Pacific Power customer gained access to technical support and $36,075 in Energy Trust cash incentives to help it develop strategies for long-lasting energy savings.
Through a combination of behavior changes, new practices and process improvements, the mill is saving more than $99,000 in energy costs every year. Annual electricity use has dropped by 1.8 million kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to the energy needed to power 160 average Oregon homes for one year.
“Changing our internal practices was a grassroots transformation,” said Mike Zojonc, mill manager, Boise Cascade. “An energy team comprised of hourly employees spearheaded this effort and engaged all of our people in minimizing energy use. Some were skeptical when we first started, but when they could see how our work was paying off with dramatic results, we knew our culture was changing from the inside.”
The energy team’s initial goal was to save 5 percent off the mill’s baseline energy use. By the end of March 2013, the company was saving 14 percent. The team meets monthly to track energy performance, identify additional energy-saving opportunities and build employee participation.
At no cost, Energy Trust provided the mill with a team of industrial energy experts to help assess energy management practices, create and implement an Energy Action Plan and develop ways to measure results. Energy Trust also provided the mill with a two-year subscription to a web-based program that provides real-time energy usage data to track and measure energy performance.
“We’re in a very competitive industry,” Zojonc said. “Our employees understand that by saving energy, we’re saving revenue that we can direct back in our business and help sustain the longevity of this location. From a business perspective, a commitment to saving energy is the right thing to do. The Energy Trust incentives make this project a good investment and are symbolic of the efforts that our guys have put into making us more competitive.”