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Efficiency Technology Energy Spring 2018

Partnership helps Cross Plains businesses save energy

A knock on the door has led to energy savings for several small businesses in Cross Plains. They recently made energy efficiency improvements and took advantage of special incentives available through Focus on Energy's Community Small Business Offering. MGE teamed up with Focus to promote this opportunity.

Saeman Lumber Co.

Saeman Lumber Co. of Cross Plains cut its annual energy costs by about $2,900 thanks to a Focus on Energy small business program.

Cross Plains was chosen for this effort because it is a rural community with a low participation rate in the Focus Small Business program. The goal of this effort was to provide access to energy efficiency program funds and resources in such communities.

MGE identified more than 80 eligible small businesses in the Cross Plains area.

  • The campaign began with a kickoff breakfast for customers and trade allies last August.
  • In-person visits to 60 of the eligible small businesses followed.

Businesses were offered free onsite energy assessments, which identified strategies for lowering utility bills and improving operational efficiency. They also could take advantage of a limited-time, up-to-50% bonus on eligible financial incentives for completing improvement projects in categories like lighting, refrigeration and HVAC.

"Many of the businesses appreciated having us right there in the community to focus on key issues and answer their questions," said Jillian Page, MGE Commercial and Industrial Marketing Representative. "They also liked the idea of MGE and Focus working together on this effort."

"Small business owners wear so many hats," she added. "Being right there at their door makes it easy for them to tap our expertise and get specific information they need to make wise energy decisions."

Taking action

B & B Laminates is one Cross Plains company that took advantage of the Community Small Business Offering. B & B Laminates received an incentive of $4,500 for installing 25 LED high-bay lighting fixtures.

Saeman Lumber Co., which has operated in Cross Plains for 140 years, also took advantage of this special offering.

"I was quite impressed to get a knock at my door from the MGE and Focus representatives," said Bob Saeman, fourth-generation owner. "I knew we needed some upgrades, and the timing was right with this wonderful incentive."

The business received a $6,966 incentive from Focus for:

  • Updating interior and exterior lighting with LED technology.
  • Installing energy-efficient air conditioners and furnaces in their showroom and office.

"By saving an estimated 6 kilowatts of electricity and 60 therms of natural gas in the first year, Saeman Lumber could save approximately $2,900 in annual energy costs," said Mark Lydon, Energy Advisor at Focus. "In addition to saving energy and money, the upgrades have improved employee comfort and provide a higher quality of light."

This project also has the added value of helping to avoid potential future demand charges.

Moving forward

The Cross Plains project was successful in terms of energy savings for the businesses that participated. It was successful on a broader level too, as saving energy helps keep dollars in the local economy. Focus plans to replicate this effort in other rural Wisconsin communities this year.

"In addition to the small businesses that tackled projects, we also made contact with many other businesses of all types and sizes," Page said. "They now have a face and a name at MGE and Focus who they can contact in the future when they are ready to pursue energy efficiency projects."

Learn more about current financial incentives available for your business.