Duke Energy presented representatives of the PaperWorks Industries Wabash mill with a check for more than $1.13 million Tuesday, April 11, as an incentive reward for the company’s cost-saving investments. PaperWorks (from left) Project Manager John Henry, Plant Controller Pam Hawkins and General Manager Chris Wetherford accepted the check from Duke Energy Account Executives (second from right, to left) Shawn South and Ron Booher. Photo by Emma Rausch
By Emma Rausch
PaperWorks Industries’ energy-saving investments paid off, literally, Tuesday, April 11, when Duke Energy presented the company with a $1.13 million check.
Nearly two years ago, PaperWorks made a strategic investment of approximately $3.5 million to reduce its energy consumption at its Wabash-based paper mill, according to mill general manager Chris Wetherford.
“So in the summer of 2015, we sat down and we talked about ways to make the business more profitable without actually having to produce more products, since there’s not a lot of room in the industry for a lot more product,” Wetherford told The Paper of Wabash County. “So naturally the answer is either you reorganize your business from a personnel standpoint or you look at ways that you can reduce your costs.”
PaperWorks opted for the latter.
“Our largest cost is our energy and we have a very sophisticated beater room (pulp-recycling system) that processes 100 percent recycled fiber,” Wetherford continued, “and the equipment back then was very outdated, a huge energy hog. In fact, half of the mill’s energy demand is in that one area.
“So we sat down and we said, ‘What’s it going to take to update that area?’ And we found out with the help of Duke (Energy) at the same time that they could reduce our costs and potentially give us a rebate by doing the project.”
Through Duke Energy’s Smart$aver Custom program, which helps reduce the purchase and installation costs of high-efficiency equipment, the mill overhauled its beater room and eliminated “unnecessarily” large motors and pumps.
As a result, the company increased its efficiency and noticed an 11 percent reduction of electricity consumption.
The outcome also earned PaperWorks Duke Energy’s incentive payment, which totaled to $1,135,935.
The incentive’s total amount was based on the savings of the equipment installed, according to Shawn South, Duke Energy account executive.
“The incentive was determined by the on-peak demand kilowatts saved and the electric usage (kilowatt hours) saved,” South told The Paper. “The magnitude of the reduction in energy usage is what contributed to such a large incentive.”
In 2016, Duke Energy awarded businesses that were participating in the Smart$aver program approximately $12 million in incentives for projects that reduced energy consumption by approximately 97,000 megawatt-hours.
The Smart$aver program aims to lower power consumption and the need to build new power plants, thereby lowering costs for all Duke Energy customers, according to South.
“Energy efficiency is one of the least expensive energy resources,” South said. “The most economical power plant is the one we don’t have to build, and programs like this help us delay building new plants, which helps manage costs for all of our customers.”