TRAVERSE CITY —
Cone Drive knows energy efficiency saves money.
In 2009, the Traverse City-based manufacturing plant began to replace outdated lighting and equipment. In the process, it saved nearly $50,000 annually and the same amount of energy that's produced by the city's wind generator along M-72.
"The bottom line is we've saved annually 560,000 kilowatt hours of power. In the debate over efficiency versus windmills, the windmill generates about 600,000 kilowatt hours," said Pete Ostrowski, who heads environmental health and safety at Cone Drive. "This just shows what one small business did as far as efficiency."
Ostrowski was one of several panelists and speakers at Thursday's "Energy Efficiency and Local Economic Opportunity" community summit. Hundreds turned out at the Hagerty Center to learn how efficiency efforts can save money and create jobs in Grand Traverse County.
Organized by the Michigan Land Use Institute, it unveiled a new report done in cooperation with SEEDS on the potential economic impact of efficiency efforts in the region.
"The power of energy efficiency ... means saved energy dollars staying in the economy for local spending and for businesses' bottom line," said Jim Dulzo, senior editor at MLUI and co-author of the report. "If our county or our city gets as efficient as it can, it's going to help our taxpayers."
The report proposes a county-wide efficiency program that targets homeowners, businesses and governments, and offers a number of implementation strategies. Authors applied an economic model that projects savings from energy efficiency measures at public buildings and residences in Grand Traverse County. One strategy involves "retro-commissioning" public buildings, tuning up existing equipment, doing minor repairs and adjusting controls.
In Grand Traverse County, the authors found that an investment of $400,000 to $462,400 in public buildings would net savings of more than $1.8 million over 30 years, depending on interest rates.
In the commercial sector, similar efficiency efforts could net $6.6 million in annual energy savings. Over 30 years, that could mean an additional 76 jobs.
"That's 76 jobs sustained for three decades that would not exist if we continue with business as usual," said Barton Kirk, the report's co-author and an energy and environmental analyst for SEEDS.
The keynote speaker shared his experiences implementing an efficiency strategy in Holland, Mich., and other cities around the world. Energy expert Peter Garforth said there is enormous potential in tapping unused or wasted energy.
"Energy not used is always the cheapest, and energy not used is always the cleanest," he said.
The MLUI report concludes that public investment in all municipal buildings will ultimately save local tax dollars; bonded, private or interest-subsidized dollars in residential efficiency will ultimately pay back homeowners in the long term; and businesses can cut into energy costs without hurting cash flow, eventually creating new jobs.
The report recommends exploring financing mechanisms to "unlock the economic benefits of energy efficiency." One option is a county-wide efficiency fund with a low interest rate to finance efficiency retrofits for at least half of the public buildings in Grand Traverse County.
A panel on efficiency success stories included Tim Pulliam, of Keen Technical Solutions, which provides companies with energy conservation strategies. Keen worked with Cone Drive on its recent efficiency efforts.
He said more needs to be done to make people aware of the savings opportunities.
"Energy efficiency doesn't have to mean a compromise," he said. "It's important to realize it's not going to cost you to do it. It's going to cost you not to do it."
TRAVERSE CITY —
Cone Drive knows energy efficiency saves money.
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