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C&I Program Shines with Furniture Maker OFS Brands

Electric Cooperative Provides Assistance to Cut Manufacturer’s Energy Use

An office furniture maker served by Dubois REC is experiencing real energy savings as a result of the cooperative’s commercial and industrial (C & I) program incentives.   

Upgrades to a compressed air system were completed in 2012 at OFS Brands’ Huntingburg facilities served by the Jasper-based electric co-op. A two-week analysis shows cost savings to OFS Brands in the compressed air system to be just greater than 48 percent. 

OFS operations in Huntingburg are a 2.7-megawatt load for Dubois REC, according to the cooperative’s chief executive officer Don Book. He said the C & I program is a tremendous support to his cooperative’s efforts.

“Our C & I accounts are very important, not just to Dubois REC, but to the entire local economy.  The furniture industry is a fiercely competitive business to be in,” Book recognizes. “Just about all of our area businesses have struggled to keep market share, especially from foreign competition.   Helping these businesses better manage their costs, by improving their energy efficiency, will only help them stay competitive.” 

Keith Blackgrove, facility engineer for the company’s multiple Dubois County operations, says a study of compressed air use began after representatives attended a Hoosier-Energy-sponsored workshop for member system key accounts. 

Hoosier Energy Marketing Services Coordinator Wes McFarland and Key Accounts Manager Renee Campbell helped OFS secure a C & I custom rebate for a computer-based system that monitors and distributes air more efficiently throughout the plant, alternating pressure at several sites at varying times. The custom rebate covered approximately 25 percent of the system equipment and installation costs.  

Blackgrove says the plant uses compressed air in 90 percent of its operations.

“Compressed air is used 24 hours a day here. It’s amazing how much is consumed,” he says.

A family-owned company, OFS celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2012 and has around 1,800 employees at plants in Indiana, the Carolinas and Kentucky. 

Blackgrove praises Indiana’s electric cooperatives for providing the workshops and C & I incentives. The rebate to OFS Brands was one of the larger for compressed air systems offered to date, McFarland says, and demonstrates the cooperative’s ability to tailor incentives to meet the unique needs of many industrial customers.  Incentives are provided for lighting, motors, heating, ventilation and air conditioning as well as custom projects. 

Blackgrove terms the savings realized as “an eye-opener” and says the education has prompted the company to talk to other utilities that serve its operations.

“It’s helped us progress and work with other non-REC facilities to get rebates,” he says.

A stroll through OFS Huntingburg Plant 1 and connecting plants, finds the facility engineer surveying other energy efficiency upgrades. He points to improved lighting that was installed as part of an earlier C & I project.

“The dollars are going to do the talking,” Blackgrove says, adding, “Anything we save here goes toward the bottom line.”