Operations Illustrated: Alternative Energy Sources
“‘Going green’ may be an overused phrase and, to some degree, abused in some circles…but if people are sincere in their desire to go green, they will eventually realize many benefits,” Williams says. “If we use less energy, we save money. If we recycle something instead of spending time and money to extract or create that product, then we are saving money. Going green shifts our notions of consuming something to saving something.”
CalPortland Co. of Glendora, Calif., has been a long-time member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. But as a direct result of the California power crisis in 2001, the company focused on curbing energy costs in 2003, says Steve Coppinger, director of engineering services for CalPortland. “That was when we began to work with Energy Star to create a formal energy program,” he notes. Almost a decade later, CalPortland has a plan and a dedicated team working to reduce energy usage and its associated costs for the company.
CalPortland currently has 16 energy managers across its various divisions. These managers and others meet every two to three months via video conference to review best practices and energy performance. “The energy managers have helped us to create and sustain a strong corporate culture for reducing our energy usage and costs,” Coppinger says.
He explains that the buy-in from employees across the company has resulted from an attitude of working together. For instance, CalPortland has eschewed energy audits, holding energy “treasure hunts” at its facilities instead. “We brainstorm and have plant walk-throughs where the onsite employees are invaluable for pointing out such things as air leaks and lighting issues,” he adds.
As part of its energy program, CalPortland has initiated both large and small projects. The eight wind turbines working “behind the meter” at the Mojave Cement Plant, as part of a long-term agreement with Alite Wind, LLC, to purchase wind energy for the plant, fall under the company’s larger initiatives. But CalPortland has also installed solar panels in smaller, remote areas to help power such equipment as water pumps.
Additionally, the company has invested in the use of renewable fuels. In 2008, the Oregon-SW Washington Division converted its ready-mix trucks, dump trucks, concrete pumps, and diesel-powered yard and plant equipment to use blended biodiesel fuel. And in 2006, CalPortland’s Rillito Quarry began to use a new “biofuel” in place of petroleum diesel fuel to combine with ammonium nitrate as its bulk blasting agent.
All of these efforts have helped CalPortland to garner recognition from Energy Star for eight consecutive years — from 2005 to 2012.
“But beyond that, it just makes sense from an environmental standpoint and a cost standpoint to explore all options,” Coppinger says. “Thirty-three percent of power generated in California will have to be renewable by 2020. That’s not that far off, so the pressure is on.”