Small business owners know how hard it is to be successful. Finding ways to cut costs to improve already slim margins is a daily struggle.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is uniquely situated to be a partner with small businesses to help them cut their energy costs. Through its Agriculture and Rural Communities Energy Incentive Program, EGLE's Energy Services has awarded $179,000 in grants in 2018 and 2019 to non-industrial small businesses of less than 500 employees in rural areas.
An upgrade at Bell's Brewery that was funded in part by a grant through EGLE's program recently resulted in the Comstock, Mich., small business being awarded the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry Certification. The grant of $15,000 helped to pay for Bell's Glycol heated CO2 vaporizer upgrade, which was part of a total retrofit project completed this past summer.
The Glycol heated CO2 vaporizer combined two separate systems (fermentation and CO2 vaporization) into one efficient system to save 190,000 kilowatt hours per year, or enough electricity to power 17 homes for one year. Bell's also performed LED lighting retrofits and installed a compressed air leak detection system, both of which contributed to significant overall energy savings for the company.
Bell's is one of the many energy waste reduction success stories through EGLE's Agriculture and Rural Communities Energy Incentive Program. In 2018 and 2019, grantees saved a total of nearly 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 63,700 million cubic feet of natural gas annually through funded projects that have saved businesses more than $273,000 total.
Program grants are still available and interested businesses can contact EGLE Energy Service's Erica Richard at RichardE1@Michigan.gov or 517-275-1472 for more information.
EGLE also awards grants through its Small Manufacturers Energy Waste Reduction Incentive Pilot Program, which offers matching grants to small manufacturers in Michigan to implement energy efficiency activities. In 2018 and 2019 combined, grantees received $150,500 in matching funds, which reduced their annual natural gas and electricity usage, resulting in annual operational cost savings of more than $183,000. For information, contact EGLE Energy Service's David Herb at HerbD@Michigan.gov or 517-512-3325.
For businesses looking to identify savings beyond energy, EGLE provides free Integrated Assessments. The assessments evaluate opportunities for companies to optimize the use of resources, minimize non-production waste and energy related losses, and increase efficiencies across the board. The Assessment Coordinator, Chris Babcock, can be reached at BabcockC4@Michigan.gov or 517-599-7939.