The Motor Question

Dec. 21, 2004
Power consumption enters into cost considerations.

Is energy a controllable cost? For example, how much energy cost savings could you find by buying motors based on life-cycle cost? John McFarland, president and CEO, Baldor Electric Co., Fort Smith, Ark., points out that over 60% of the electric bill in industry comes from operating electric motors and that 97% of the lifetime cost of an industrial electric motor is the power it consumes. He points out that an industrial motor often will use 40 times its original cost in electricity in the very first year of use. Nevertheless, a U.S. Department of Energy study reports that only 11% of motor buyers have written specifications for motor purchases, and only two-thirds of those included efficiency in their specifications. Figure that motor energy costs can exceed $1 million annually in large industrial plants and that in steel plants energy costs can exceed $6 million. And any savings gained from motor efficiency will be repeated year after year during its 15-to-20-year life. McFarland says his customers typically recover the small premium in the first year of use. He says high-efficiency motors currently account for 20% of Baldor's production, but the percentage is growing.

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