This article appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
We’ve all heard the saying before: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
While this old adage is often sage advice for avoiding disappointment, Don Johns sees this phrase as a challenge he and his colleagues need to overcome every day and that is even after they’ve piqued the interest of someone enough to listen to them talk about energy costs — a topic that Johns says often makes it difficult to get a foot in the door.
After 22 years of experience at the Michigan Public Service Commission, Johns, President of EnStar Energy LLC, founded the company with a group of partners in 1996. MMA’s energy partner, EnStar, is an energy consulting firm in Lansing dedicated to helping businesses meet their energy needs and reduce costs as they navigate the complex energy markets.
While the idea of saving money on energy costs is widely known, Johns and his team have been putting the concept into practice by helping manufacturers evaluate utility charges, find some sizable tax rebates and discover some surprisingly large savings opportunities — often at no cost to the manufacturer.
One Skill Everyone Should Have
Integrity. Everyone has a sense of what is right and wrong and they should always look to do what is right in how they treat others.
EnStar offers MMA members a free energy consultation. Following the consultation, they offer a variety of services that frequently lead to significant cost savings: brokering lower electricity and natural gas rates, advising on energy rebates and evaluating energy usage for everything from manufacturing processes to HVAC and lighting.
Johns is really excited about EnStar’s new Compressed Air Program — but this new offering is a prime example of something that sounds too good to be true.
With the new program, EnStar will visit a manufacturer’s location, advise them on how the program works and then inspect their compressed air system with an ultrasonic gun. The gun reveals costly air leaks which are all tagged. But that’s not all. EnStar will then send in pipe fitters to seal the leaks, all at no cost to the manufacturer.
“The manufacturer must meet some minimum requirements to take advantage of the program,” Johns says. “But the cost to eliminate the air leaks is covered by rebates from the electrical utility provider, which we handle.”
EnStar has found that typically 25 to 35 percent of the energy used by compressed air systems is lost in air leaks. What does this mean in terms of money thrown to the wind? In one very real example, a single facility with just one 100 hp compressor could realize up to $25,000 annually in energy savings after fixing their leaks. According to Johns, a manufacturer must have at least one 50 hp compressor running 40 hours a week to take advantage of the program.
Best Part of My Job
The feeling of accomplishment when a project is completed and you feel you have actually helped someone or did something that makes EnStar a better company.
Johns says EnStar’s strategy is simple. “We’re not contractors. We’re consultants. We’ve found trusted channel partners for various energy saving measures. Lighting, compressed air, on-site generation and so on. All of our partner contractors are fully accredited through the utilities. We align these contractors with the manufacturer if the payback in savings warrants the investment. We don’t ask anybody to pay anything unless they get something back for it,” says Johns. “So we take on all the risk by doing the work to find where the savings are.”
Sustainability is an important concept for everyone in the manufacturing industry. Calling in consultants such as EnStar, especially if they offer a free consultation, is a great first step on the path to reducing your carbon footprint. You may find that you have much more to gain than you imagined.
EnStar Energy LLC is an MMA Premium Associate Member and has been an MMA member company since May 2014. Visit online: enstarenergy.com.