High Performance Energy Management Case Study: Fitesa Washougal

Dave Rohrback: Energy conservation is very important to Fitesa. Steve Sundt: It's made us a lot more aware of what's going on in the plant now. JD Hisey: We're reducing our carbon footprint, so that's very important to us. Dave Rohrback: Being proactive makes us very competitive in a market that's extremely competitive. Dave Rohrback: Fitesa is a global, non-woven manufacturing company. If you don't know what nonwovens is, it's a polymer-based fabric and it goes in many different applications from baby diapers to medical garments, you know, the blue caps and gowns you see at the doctor's office. Even nowadays you go to the grocery store and instead of the plastic bags they give you a reusable bag. Well, that's made out of non-wovens. So we make the substrate and sell it to customers that produce the finished product.

We are the only non-woven plant on the West Coast. And a large percentage of our customer base is on the East Coast, so we pay a lot of freight to get our product, since it's so heavy, from the West Coast to the East Coast. Another unfortunate aspect is a lot of our competition resides on the east coast. So we have to do a lot of other things to remain competitive with our customers. So energy efficiency is one of that the main things that we do to reduce our overhead so we can offer the same materials to the same customers without a disadvantage. So it's really a huge deal to this plant not only from a competitive standpoint, but from a longevity standpoint. JD Hisey: Everything we do here is following the plan/do/check/act cycle, which is a continuous improvement cycle.

Dave Rohrback: The day-in and day-out activities that we do to be a profitable business fit right in to the HPEM program especially with our own metrics system here. JD Hisey: If you look overall at our last four years between larger capital projects and HPEM, we've saved about 29 percent on our electrical bills. In the last two years we've reduced our natural gas usage by 67 percent and our sewer outfall we've reduced by 90 percent. So those are all from using the HPEM tools and just paying attention to the business. Dave Rohrback: It's obvious a kilowatt of energy is going to save you money on the bottom line. The problem is organizing your efforts to go about it in a way where you get the biggest bang for the buck.

So that first project we did really opened our eyes to the opportunity that we had here. We achieved the energy savings that we had estimated we we're going to save. We got the incentive that was quoted to us from the energy company. That built a lot of confidence within my upper management and then it really kind of kept the ball rolling here at the facility because we started looking at all these different ideas. Doug Moore: Chillers that we were using were oversized, so they were using more power than we really needed and we went to smaller chillers that are more efficient as far as how they run. They only run when we need them. Gary Cantrell: We determined that our old HID lighting was inefficient, so we decided to go with a high-efficient motion sensor system.

So we installed some new lights, which included the fluorescent lighting and motion sensors with a reflective back. So it gave us more lumens and the bulbs last longer. JD Hisey: When we looked at the tools and the metrics that we were using for HPEM it was pretty obvious that we could use them for all of our other utilities: natural gas, water, sewer outfall, so we just expanded out to HPUM, which is high performance utility management. Dave Rohrback: We've achieved quite a bit of financial savings. The obvious is the reduction in energy costs but there's a lot of other ways that we achieve the savings from the HPEM program. The equipment's easier to maintain. There's less breakdowns; spare parts are easier to come by. We also have some systems that don't require certain chemicals any longer because of the upgrades of the equipment that we put in. Todd Amundson: Fitesa is a great example of what can be achieved through HPEM participation. They picked up that continuous improvement model to energy management and ran with it.

Dave Rohrback: Everyone wants to do something from an energy conservation standpoint but it's really not in an organized fashion and there's some training that goes along with that to learn how to do it properly. JD Hisey: In the last two years we've saved about a million kilowatt hours a year just from the HPEM projects. Doug Moore: Well, it's easier for us to tell now what the machinery's doing as far as we can watch it on a real-time basis instead of waiting month-to-month to see what our power usage is. We can look at it any time and see what we're using. Dave Rohrback: Clark PUD has been available to us every time we've needed some sort of answers about the process, the program. They really introduced it to us. Todd Amundson: There's no cost involved to the end-use facilities to participate. Dave Rohrback: From the measurement and verification standpoint, we get some very qualified people that come out to the plant, help you design projects, identify projects. Todd Amundson: It wouldn't have been possible without Clark Public Utilities. Dave Rohrback: Don't be afraid of the process or the time commitment. Gary Cantrell: We're doing helpful things for the environment.

Doug Moore: We're kind of the poster child now for our company. Todd Amundson: There's a lot of savings to capture out there that HPEM program participants can achieve. Dave Rohrback: You're saving on the energy up front—the kilowatts that you save. You're saving on the total project dollars from the BPA incentive that you get. You also get new equipment in your plant which reduces your downtime costs, your maintenance costs, repair cost. So the bigger question is why wouldn't you do it?.