Weyerhaeuser Santiam Lumber Mill Success Story

WeyerhaeuserJon Rainy (left), Weyerhaeuser energy champion with Alan Meyer and Doris Johnston, Pacific Power business managers, and Stephen Harms, Weyerhaeuser plant manager.

At Weyerhaeuser’s Santiam Lumber Mill in Lebanon, Ore., energy management is a journey, not a destination. Long-term participation in Energy Trust of Oregon’s Strategic Energy Management initiative has helped the mill reduce overhead costs, change behavior and save almost 1 million kilowatt-hours of energy annually.

Energy Trust teams up with Pacific Power to offer energy saving programs, technical assistance and cash incentives to customers.

Simple changes save energy

Built in 2008, the Santiam Lumber Mill is a state-of-the-art sawmill, which produces a unit of lumber every 45 seconds. The high-speed process is essential to the mill’s competitiveness and a significant contributor to its energy consumption. A corporate commitment to reduce energy use inspired the mill’s first foray into Strategic Energy Management.

“In the beginning we focused on behavior,” said current Energy Champion Jon Rainy. “We concentrated on manually turning lights, air compressors and other equipment off and on as needed. We found ways to conserve energy but we also learned there was more work to do.”

Employee actions affect the bottom line

Rainy’s background in mechanical and electrical systems gave him a new perspective on Strategic Energy Management when he became Energy Champion in 2014. Conveyor belts, hydraulic systems and other equipment continued to run unnecessarily. Rainy’s solution was to side step the human factor when possible and use controls to automatically shut systems off and on.

“A daily production report illustrates how many pieces we’ve made and how much energy we were able to save,” he continued. “When employees see that their actions have an impact on energy savings and the bottom line, it motivates them to embrace new habits.”

Since 2012, system and behavior changes at the Santiam Lumber Mill have reduced the site’s annual electricity use by 1.6 percent and saved more than $48,000 in annual energy costs. Energy Trust has provided cash incentives of $9,443 toward the cost of the company’s work in Strategic Energy Management.

Energy savings is an ongoing process

The mill’s energy team worked with Energy Trust to identify energy-saving opportunities throughout the property. At regular meetings, they discuss possible projects and make decisions based on importance, cost and return on investment. Rainy says the next big project is to replace old metal halide fixtures in the shipping area with newer, energy-efficient LED lighting.

“Everything we do affects whether the mill runs or not,” explained Rainy. “In the old days, we kept equipment running no matter what, but in today’s business that’s not a good thing. Anywhere we can save energy improves our bottom line.”

For details on energy efficiency incentives and services for Oregon businesses, visit energytrust.org.