Over the next two years, 148 GE Industrial manufacturing plants and warehouses worldwide — 110 in the Americas, 36 in Europe and two in Asia — will undergo extensive lighting retrofits that could cut annual lighting energy costs at each facility an average of 50%. Based on extensive energy savings analysis conducted at 65 of the 148 facilities, the retrofit will allow each location, on an average annualized basis, to reduce energy consumption by 1.4 million KwH and realize approximately $86,000 in energy cost savings.
Estimates for the completed 148-facility retrofit include reducing energy consumption by 210.5 million KwH and saving $12.8 million in energy costs, annually, when compared with the older lighting. Another forecasted environmental benefit tied to the 148-facility retrofit is the production of 155,700 fewer metric tons of CO2, which equates to the ongoing elimination of pollution from nearly 30,000 average-sized cars or the good that comes from planting over 70-square miles of trees.
Rising Energy Costs Spur Initiative
In August 2004, Jack Fish, vice president of global manufacturing, GE Consumer & Industrial, asked his team to devise a plan for cutting energy costs by 20%. He wanted to counter forecasted energy price increases that were sure to affect the profitability of GE Consumer & Industrial’s Appliances, Lighting, Lighting Systems, and Electrical Distribution operating units. Conversations with plant managers and lighting executives kept returning to lighting retrofits, which the lighting unit had been promoting externally among customers as the fastest way to slow down energy meters, and thereby cut wasteful spending on energy.
“An overall cost-of-light calculation used by the lighting business sealed the deal,” notes Fish.
The calculation points out that as little as 4% of the overall cost of light may be attributable to the cost of lamps; 8% is commonly traced to installation and maintenance. The majority, as much as 88%, relates to energy consumption. (These percentages are approximations. Actual costs will vary based on local electricity and labor rates, the nature of the facility, the type of lighting installed and other factors.)
“Very few GE Consumer & Industrial plants were using energy efficient linear fluorescent lamps,” reports Fish. “We simply weren’t taking our own good advice. Now, though, we’re on track to achieve a 50% reduction in lighting energy consumption at these plants. That’s two-and-a-half times our initial savings target.”
Word of Savings Travels Fast
Initially, about 50 GE Consumer & Industrial plants were identified for retrofits. Soon thereafter, however, due to the same performance attributes that attract energy conscious customers to GE lighting products and solutions, interest in the plants initiative mushroomed across GE Industrial locations globally.
The retrofit now encompasses Consumer & Industrial, Plastics, Advanced Materials, Security, Sensing, Inspection Technologies and GE Fanuc. In many of the plants targeted for retrofits — 10 plants are converted as of January 2006 — older technologies such as standard high-pressure sodium or standard metal halide lamps are the previous lamps of choice.
In addition to the projected reduction in energy consumption by 210.5 million KwH and the $12.8 million in energy-cost savings enabled by the 148 retrofits, based on the averages established through GE’s energy-savings analysis at 65 of 148 locations, GE plans to pursue an accelerated tax deduction incentive allowed by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.