November 14, 2012

Maine ripe for energy-efficiency savings, study says

It describes how homes, businesses and industry can spend millions less on power, and others tell success stories.

By Tux Turkel
Staff Writer

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Above, a file photo of a high-efficiency LED light. Maine homes and businesses could trim their overall electricity consumption by 16 percent over the next decade by installing more-efficient lights, equipment and appliances, a new study for Efficiency Maine Trust has concluded.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

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PDF: Efficiency Maine Study
Efficiency Maine Study

Top opportunities at home involve lighting, appliances, water heating and consumer electronics. Efficiency measures include fluorescent and LED lights, Energy Star-rated washers, dryers and refrigerators, heat pump water heaters and low-flow faucets, and controlled power strips for TVs and computers.

In the commercial sector, lighting, ventilation and refrigeration lead the potential for savings. Measures include high-efficiency fluorescent and LED lights, demand-controlled ventilation and refrigeration fan controls, and covers for cooler display cases.

For industry, leading opportunities are in machine drives and lighting. Measures include more efficient pump systems and motors, and high-efficiency fluorescent and LED lights.

In the survey, 58 percent of Maine businesses said they consider the payback period when they make efficiency investments. Seven of 10 of those businesses said they want the investment to pay for itself within three years.

The survey also asked business owners and managers about likely participation in Efficiency Maine programs, based on the level of financial incentives. Respondents said they "very likely" would make investments if incentives covered 50 percent to 75 percent of installed equipment costs.

At Wednesday's symposium, representatives from employers such as Hannaford Bros., Texas Instruments and the city of Lewiston explained how they have carried out energy improvements.

Hannaford looks for payback in less than four years when it makes energy improvements in its supermarkets, said Harrison Horning, the company's director of energy and facility services.

Texas Instruments bought National Semiconductor and its analog chip-making plant in South Portland last year. The plant competes for investment with plants worldwide, said Andrew McCollough, the facilities engineering manager. So to overcome higher labor costs, the Maine factory must operate efficiently and trim energy use constantly.

On average, the plant has cut its utility bill by $2.5 million over the past eight years. Recently, for instance, it changed out 52 chillers with high-performance versions that cut electricity use by 75 percent. The $1 million investment will pay for itself in three years, McCollough said.


Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:


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