Friday, November 30, 2007

Solano EDC Praises Conservation

Solano EDC Praises Conservation
By Cathy Bussewitz/Staff Writer

Tax incentives. Savings. Return on investment.

These aren't always the catch phrases used by environmental leaders. But the corporate executives who spoke at Solano Economic Development Corporation's member-investor breakfast Thursday pointed out that the key changes in energy consumption they've made have gone a long way toward helping their bottom line.

Anheuser-Busch's plant manager Kevin Finger said the company cut its energy use in half since 1970, and has cut their breweries' water use by 20 percent per six pack since 1990, saving 3.5 million liters of water.

"A fair amount of my day is spent paying attention to these things," Finger said. "We have opportunities to save money, especially when we partner with PG&E."

Alza Corp's Vacaville facility recently installed a field of 5,740 solar panels, a system that's saving the facility approximately $700 per day in energy costs, according to Bob Royer, project manager for the site.

But the "unsung heroes" in the path toward greening Solano County, Pacific Gas & Electric account executive John Ketcherside said, are small business.

"We've got a large corporation that's saving millions of dollars. But what about the small biz which really makes up the larger sector of our community?" Ketcherside said.

"I've gone out to these mom and pop shops, and I've offered no and low-cost solutions that have been able to send them $5,000 to $11,000 a year. And to an operation that survives on such a slim margin of profit, that is huge."

Ketcherside pointed out that implementing small changes like adding compact or linear florescent lights, strip curtains and seals for refrigeration units can make a big difference.

Fairfield-based Meyer Corporation installed a 4.8 megawatt energy-reduction system that "wiped out their electricity bill," Ketcherside said.

In Solano County, PG&E has paid out $7 million to business in energy efficiency rebates and $5.7 million to residences, Finger said. Much of this change is a result of a program where they audit energy use at a company or residence, and then offer suggestions and incentives to reduce energy expense.

For more information about how your company can reduce energy costs, businesses can contact PG&E at 800-468-4PGE and residents can call 800-933-9555.

Cathy Bussewitz can be reached at

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