Graham Packaging Success Story

WA_Graham_Packaging_D79T8732_325x182.jpgCompressed air improvements made with Pacific Power technical expertise and cash incentives help Graham Packaging Company reach sustainability goals at its Selah plant.

Graham Packaging Company, an international leader in food and beverage package container solutions, has created a cycle of sustainability to minimize its environmental impact and enhance its value to customers and society.

One of Graham Packaging’s 90 plants worldwide, the180,000-square-foot facility in Selah, Washington has been a frequent participant in Pacific Power’s energy efficiency programs for many years to help achieve operational and sustainability goals.

“We want to maintain not only low cost of operations and high quality of product but to also be responsible stewards in our community,” said Chris Bacon, Graham Packaging’s Selah plant manager.

Identifying a savings opportunity

Recently, Graham Packaging was interested in improving the energy efficiency of the plant’s compressed air system. As part of Pacific Power’s wattsmart® Business program, engineering firm Cascade Energy evaluated adding a control system to the low pressure compressed air system.

“Cascade showed us what we could save by upgrading the system,” said Dan Barnett, Graham Packaging’s Selah plant maintenance manager.

The low pressure compressed air system at Graham Packaging consisted of three rotary screw compressors. Each compressor operated continuously year-round regardless of the amount of air required by the plant.

There was also a high pressure crossover line that could supply air to the low pressure system if needed. This crossover had to be manually opened and was located near the ceiling of the facility. As a result, it would often get opened then not turned off. When this would happen, the line would use high pressure air even if low pressure supply would suffice.

Solution tailored to Selah plant

The Pacific Power study recommended a control system upgrade that integrated the compressors and crossover line allowing the high and low pressure systems to operate as one and provide pressure regulation. Pacific Power also recommended the existing compressors be retrofit to cycle between periods of compressed air generation and idling. Graham Packaging found this operation, called load/unload, to be a much more efficient way to operate their compressors.

Graham Packaging implemented the compressed air management system at its Selah plant following these recommendations.

Partnership leads to results

By making the compressed air improvements, the company is saving approximately 441,200 kilowatt-hours of electricity and $21,300 in electricity costs per year. The company earned nearly $22,750 in Pacific Power incentives, which helped reduce the simple payback of the project from two years to one.

 “Pacific Power definitely comes to us from the partner standpoint and makes things centric to Selah and Graham Packaging’s global sustainability initiatives,” said Bacon.

The company is now underway with another wattsmart Business energy efficiency project to reduce compressed air leaks. 

Learn more about energy efficiency services and incentives for businesses »