Eau Claire, Wis. – Cascades Tissue Group, a paper manufacturer in northwestern central Wisconsin, was selected by FOCUS ON ENERGY® to receive one of its 2020 Energy Efficiency Excellence Awards for its outstanding efforts to incorporate energy efficiency into its facility.
Focus on Energy’s Excellence Awards honor program participants who have shown a commitment to leading in energy efficiency. With utility provider Xcel Energy, Cascades first began working with Focus on Energy in the late 1990s. In 2015, the manufacturer performed an audit of its facility to determine its level of efficiency and what measures could be implemented to increase energy savings.
“Cascades Tissue is a leader in paper mill energy improvements and recognition for their accomplishments is well deserved,” said Oscar Brandser, Xcel Energy’s key account manager. “It’s been a privilege to be a member of their energy team for over 15 years.”
Cascades received a follow-up audit in 2016, which produced a list of energy-efficient upgrades that Cascades could implement within its operations to save energy and money. The paper manufacturer subsequently got to work making those improvements, which included updating the plant’s lighting to LEDs, incorporating best practice procedures into its day-to-day operations, and installing emerging technologies to improve the facility’s manufacturing process efficiency.
These projects have resulted in energy savings of 136,784 therms – enough to provide energy to 83 homes for one year – and the upgrades completed from 2018 to 2020 have produced $256,000 in annual savings for the mill. Furthermore, Cascades received over $387,000 in incentives from Focus on Energy for its projects over the last two years.
“The incentives provided by Focus on Energy are often the difference between moving forward with a project or not,” said Cascades Tissue’s Energy & Innovation Manager, Mike Armstrong. “Our partnership with Focus has allowed us to implement numerous projects that might not have happened without their help.”
Furthermore, Cascades makes a point to approach energy efficiency in various ways to cover all of its bases: through capital funding, energy measurement and site engagement to lead overall energy improvement efforts of its facility. The paper manufacturer also integrated principles from Focus on Energy’s Strategic Energy Management Program into its operating culture to consistently drive waste-reducing strategies and incorporate mindfulness of energy use into the company’s leadership practices.
Cascades’ Eau Claire site has actively engaged with Focus on Energy since 2015 to take full advantage of the Program’s resources and incentives. This includes regular communication with the plant manufacturer’s Energy Advisor from Focus on Energy, Tim Hasbargen, for guidance and expertise when considering energy-saving measures.
“Cascades is active in energy reduction as an ongoing effort, which is not just isolated to a specific project,” said Hasbargen, who nominated the paper manufacturer for the Excellence Award. “Cascades consistently demonstrates a sustainable culture of efficient energy usage through corporate support, an enthusiastic site energy team, and energy management.”
Few Wisconsin paper manufacturing sites have made strides in energy efficiency to the length that Cascades accomplished has over the past five years. The company completed site validation of its energy improvements to ensure it would achieve the intended results. In addition, Cascades uniquely allocates its capital funding at a corporate level, reducing the amount of competition for site funding amongst other projects.
The plant also measures energy both at a departmental level and at the large energy-user level, increasing awareness of energy consumption, providing a foundation for effective energy management and allowing for the prioritization of further energy-efficient upgrades.
“Focus on Energy has been instrumental in helping Cascades Tissue reach our goals for energy efficiency,” said Armstrong. “Their guidance has introduced us to new technologies and best practices in the paper industry.”
Cascades’ ongoing efforts to implement energy-saving projects alongside Focus on Energy demonstrates its strong commitment to growing energy efficiency. The paper manufacturer earned its recognition as an Energy Efficiency Excellence Award winner and has undeniably established itself as a true leader in reducing energy waste for its community and the greater Wisconsin region.
Focus on Energy is working with utility companies across the state throughout September and October to present Energy Efficiency Excellence Awards to 14 outstanding businesses.
Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy resources program, partners with 107 utilities across the state to offer energy expertise and financial incentives to residents and businesses that choose to reduce energy waste. A third-party evaluation last year revealed Wisconsin runs the most cost-effective energy efficiency programs in the nation, in terms of energy savings per dollar spent. A separate evaluation released this year found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates $4.80 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs and reduced pollution.