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Efficiency Technology Energy Summer 2018

Madison Business Utilizes Shared Savings to Boost Energy-Efficiency

When executives at Boulders Climbing Gym thought about upgrading their 8,000-square-foot facility with more energy-efficient lighting, it was their customers who made it an easy decision.

Saeman Lumber Co.

Boulders’ Climbing Gym will see a two-year payback on a new light project that cut electricity costs and improved lighting quality for climbers.

"A big aspect of the climbing community at-large is taking care of the environment that we love to recreate in. We believe in 'leave no trace' principles, and that applies to our energy use as well," said Max Beavan, operations manager at the indoor rock climbing gym on Madison's east side.

Working with businesses and contractors

Boulders owner Brad Werntz worked with Rusty Raatz of PROficient Lighting on this project. Rusty approached MGE to see if the project was a fit for our Shared Savings program.

Under Shared Savings, MGE provides loans to businesses to finance energy-saving improvements. Upfront capital from MGE pays for project costs, which are later repaid with the help of energy savings. MGE customers then benefit from future energy savings.

The high ceiling in the main climbing area of Boulders was awash with 90 yellow fluorescent tube lights. Werntz wanted to replace all of them, along with another 65 fluorescent tubes and a number of compact fluorescent bulbs in wall fixtures. In their place, he wanted to install energy-efficient LEDs.

PROficient Lighting estimated the total project cost at $4,425. Boulders used a $340 incentive from Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program to lower their installation cost and MGE's Shared Savings loan program to finance the rest of the project cost.

"This is a great example of PROficient Lighting taking an active role in using Shared Savings as a tool to make a great business like Boulders even stronger," said Randy Popp, a senior engineer in MGE's Energy Products and Services Division.

A truly 'shared' savings

In April, PROficient Lighting went to work, making the lighting upgrades over the course of a few days. MGE estimates the new LED lights will save Boulders nearly $2,000 in annual energy costs, allowing Boulders to realize a full return on its investment in just over two years. And, as importantly, their customers will enjoy an enhanced climbing experience.

"We were looking at the aesthetics of having cleaner, brighter lights, but the energy efficiency was also a big aspect of it. LEDs last quite a bit longer, they have cheaper operating costs and they're just better for our planet in general," said Beavan.

By utilizing the Shared Savings program, MGE business customers have been able to finance more than 300 energy efficiency improvement projects since the program began.

Learn more about the MGE Shared Savings program and whether it might be right for your business.