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MAP audits find cool energy savings

Duane Johnson

In the manufacturing, construction and mining industries, businesses may have issues with high energy costs that come with operations.

For this problem, the Management Assistance Partnership wants to help.

MAP is an industrial extension program based at the state university and community college system that assists businesses in maximizing productivity while minimizing costs.

One way it helps businesses minimize costs is by offering a service for energy audits.

Companies interested or in need of reducing their energy costs can contact MAP to request an energy audit.

Once a business has requested an audit, a team of professionals and graduate students from the University of Nevada’s Energy Assessment Program goes on-site to assess the company’s situation and make suggestions on reducing its energy costs.

Bob Blank and Doug Prihar, operations managers for MAP, said that the program is geared to industrial businesses such as mining or construction, but also has performed audits for casinos in the area.

In addition, the audits are not limited to companies in the Reno-Sparks area, but are conducted throughout the state.

Prihar said the MAP team assesses all phases of production and then looks at specific areas where the company may save money.

Once an audit has been done, it is up to the company whether it opts to make the changes.

“We will look for a specific problem area,” Prihar said.

“We present a bid to the company, and they can choose to accept it or not.”

A typical audit may cost around $3,500 to $5,000 and take two to five days to complete.

While the audit isn’t inexpensive, Blank and Prihar said a company’s savings could be significant.

“We have been typically saving a company $100,000 to $200,000 plus in their total energy bill,” Prihar said.

Blank added that with new technologies in low-energy lighting and production equipment, savings “can be astronomical.” The savings are predicated on a short period of time, usually 12 months or less.

“If you can replace all those old motors you have by investing $100,000 you can save $200,000 in your power bill,” Blank said.

Some of the suggestions that MAP’s crew has made to companies include use of more efficient lighting systems and installation of new engines to operate machinery.

Another example of a recommendation MAP has made is that companies work in off-peak hours.

In cases such as mining, the comapny can work during the night when more energy sources are readily available.

“Everybody tends to work at the 8 to 5 time frame and that’s when your power costs the most,” Blank said.

Although changes in a company’s production process may result in huge energy savings, sometimes it’s hard to convince a company that it is a worthwhile investment.

To install a new lighting system in a business’s workplace may cost thousands of dollars, and some companies are skeptical about new changes just to cut energy costs.

“Say you’re a manager of a division of a large corporation and you’re at the end of the year on your bottom line in terms of production and sales and you’re thinking ”My God, I can’t afford to be spending $200,000,'” Blank said.

Blank recalled one company where the energy audit cost between $4,000 and $5,000 while the resulting implementations cost about $200,000.

But in turn, the business ultimately saved over $400,000 in energy costs.

In fact, Blank said, MAP’s program has had a positive impact of $20 million for local companies.