Darigold Achieves Energy Savings and $45,000 Rebate

Darigold's energy teams accepts a rebate check for $45,000. Left to Right: John Kohis, Greg Lommers, Hannah Hull, Martin Alaniz, Troy Berglund, Tom Rouleau, Travis Street, Andrew Duim and Kathy Hoag. Not Pictured: Tim Voegtle, Brian Fox, Maurice Kehoe, Phil Grant, Danielle Summers, Joe Arnold and Joey Parrish.

Since 2011, Darigold Sunnyside has improved efficiencies so much they’re saving more than 12 million kilowatt hours of energy each year. That’s enough to power 665 average residential homes.

Darigold’s most recent energy-efficiency project earned the farmer-owned dairy co-op a $45,000 rebate from Benton REA.

The project included installation of new pumps, fans, heat exchangers, variable frequency drives and process controls for a system dedicated to processing 400,000 gallons of raw milk per day into its powdered form.

The construction began in 2014 with the goal of processing milk locally, rather than transporting it long distances to other facilities.

Darigold went above and beyond the requirements of the Washington energy code.

“The level of control and automation necessary to sustain optimal quality for production required tighter controls and standards during operation,” says Tom Rouleau, technical manager at Darigold. “We pursue sustainable practices across our entire enterprise, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because stewardship is core to our values and heritage.”

Efficiency is a team effort. More than 15 people from six departments make  up the Darigold Sunnyside Energy Team. This team works closely with the Bonneville Power Administration and Benton REA to bring ideas from the white board to the production line.

“It truly is a team effort to identify and capture opportunities to save energy,” Tom says. “Our team continues to take ownership to keep pushing those efforts forward.”

Eric Miller, Benton REA’s energy advisor, facilitated connections among Darigold’s energy team, Energy Smart Industrial and BPA. Benton REA  provides rebates to commercial, agriculture and residential members who follow BPA energy-efficiency standards.

Tony Simon, a professional engineer with Energy Smart Industrial, helped Darigold identify projects as well as their value and potential savings. Tony collected data before and after the efficiency improvements, made comparisons and validated that each energy-saving idea produced expected results.

“We could not have crunched all the necessary data without his help,” Tom says.

Improving energy efficiency requires tighter operational controls, resulting in improvements to other areas of the plant.

After nine years of improving the plant’s lighting, refrigeration, boilers, condensers and more, it may seem like there is nothing left to do. But Tom and the Sunnyside team aren’t done. Their next plan includes replacing all lighting with energy-efficient LEDs.

Tom encourages other businesses to achieve efficiency savings by establishing a common goal and demonstrating a top-down commitment to follow through.

“Reach out to your utility providers,” he says. “They can provide technical assistance in many ways.”

Tom also recommends looking at Energy Star programs and involving vendors to help identify and resolve opportunities.

“Recognize that initial investments may seem high, but the savings will be sustained long-term when people are committed,” he says.

For more information about Benton REA’s commercial rebates, contact Eric Miller at emiller@bentonrea.org or 509-786-8265.

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