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Making Industrial Energy Efficiency Mainstream and Profitable: Where Public Benefit and Private Interests Intersect

By Aimee T. Mckane


In 1996, the US Department of Energy’s Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT) Motor Challenge program began a unique collaboration with industry called the Allied Partner program. Partnerships were sought with equipment suppliers and manufacturers, utilities, consultants, and state agencies that had extensive existing relationships with industrial customers. Partners were neither paid nor charged a fee for participation. The assumption was that these relationships could serve as the foundation for conveying a motor system efficiency message to many more industrial facilities than could be reached through a typical government-to-end-user program model. A substantial effort was made to engage industrial suppliers in delivering program information as part of their customer interactions. A recent independent evaluation of the Motor Challenge program attributes $16.9 million or nearly 67 % of the total annual program energy savings to the efforts of Allied Partners in the first three years of operation. In 1997, the Compressed Air Challenge ® (CAC) was developed as an outgrowth of the partnership concept. In this model, OIT is one of 15 sponsors who collaborated to create a national program of compressed air system training. The CAC has gone a step further by setting up a development and deployment model based on shared interests and shared costs among public, private, and not-for-profit organizations that serve industrial customers. Since the first CAC training session in 1999, approximately 3800 people have been trained by CAC qualified instructors- both end users and suppliers. More impressively, the entire compressed air market has begun to shift from a component-based to a system-based approach, largely as the result of collaboration. The typical leverage for OIT participation in a CAC training session is 10:1. During the past year, OIT has reorganized to integrate all of its near-term industrial offerings such as the Motor, Compressed Air, and Steam Challenges under a single program

Year: 2011
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