Rumiano Cheese Company Success Story

From left (wearing red): Joby Rumiano, Baird Rumiano, Gary Smits and Kirk Olesen. Pacific Power’s Monte Mendenhall is second from left.From left (wearing red): Joby Rumiano, Baird Rumiano, Gary Smits and Kirk Olesen. Pacific Power’s Monte Mendenhall is second from left.

With its roots in a small, early 1900s dairy farm, Rumiano Cheese Company is the oldest family-owned cheese company in California. The company is focused on sustainability, supporting the local community with a quality workplace and being an environmentally friendly business. These factors all came into play in Rumiano Cheese Company’s recent decision to upgrade its compressed air system – an integral part of its production operation in Crescent City.

Energy savings a goal

“When we expanded, we had an increase in our compressed air consumption,” said Kirk Olesen, Rumiano Cheese Company’s chief of operations. “We are a ‘green’ company specializing in fine natural and organic cheese – saving energy appealed to everyone here.”

At the recommendation of one of the company’s equipment vendors, Olesen got in touch with Pacific Power to find out how the utility’s wattsmart energy efficiency program could help. The program offers technical assistance and financial incentives to business customers looking to improve electric energy efficiency at their facilities.

Expert help, effective changes

Through the wattsmart program, the cheese company connected with Pacific Power consultant Cascade Energy and worked closely with engineer Paul Warila.

Cascade Energy’s analysis of the system led Rumiano Cheese Company to replace an inlet modulating air compressor with a 40 horsepower variable frequency drive air compressor and swap a compressed air dryer with a cycling refrigerated dryer, among other changes.

Along with energy savings, the new variable speed compressor allowed the company to reduce the noise level in its compressor room from 95 decibels (comparable to screaming, noted Olesen) to 40 decibels (normal conversation noise level).

“You cannot believe how quiet the new compressor is, it truly must be heard (or not heard) to believe,” said Olesen. “It is also much more reliable and because it is more efficient, it saves us every month on our electric bill.”

Incentives slice payback

Rumiano Cheese Company’s compressed air upgrade project received approximately $16,800 in Pacific Power incentives, lowering the project’s simple payback from 3½ years to less than two. The improvements are saving the company $10,480 in energy costs annually.

Olesen encouraged other Pacific Power customers to investigate the utility’s programs. “We started with a specific project, but it has only been the tip of the iceberg after Paul enlightened us on other areas we could improve,” he said. “We’re currently replacing old lighting ballasts as needed in the plant, and continue to replace and install variable speed motors and controls on pumps throughout our manufacturing process.”

Learn more about incentives for wattsmart energy upgrades »