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Cutting Costs: Ecomagination Advantage

March 10, 2006
In addition to using green to make green, GE also 'walks the talk' internally. Sample: cutting plant lighting costs by half.

Considering high-efficiency lighting? GE's Jack Fish was not prepared for the savings he would find possible in 148 of GE's Consumer & Industrial facilities. In August 2004, before GE launched its Ecomagination environmental initiative, Fish asked his team to devise a plan for cutting energy costs by 20%. As vice president of global manufacturing for GE Consumer & Industrial, Fish wanted to counter forecasted energy price increases. The team's investigation found potential that boosted the initial saving goal to 50%, Fish says.

The analysis was conducted at 65 of the targeted 148 manufacturing plants. The findings: Updated lighting at each location would reduce energy consumption by 1.4 million KwH -- about $86,000 in annual energy-cost savings. Estimates for the completed 148-facility retrofit include reducing energy consumption by 210.5 million KwH and total annual savings of $12.8 million.

In the calculations GE says as little as 4% of the overall cost of light may be attributable to the cost of lamps. It says 8% typically represents installation and maintenance costs while the majority cost is energy consumption -- as much as 88%.

"We're on track to achieve a 50% lighting energy savings," says Jack Fish, VP, GE Consumer & Industrial"Very few GE Consumer & Industrial plants were using energy-efficient linear fluorescent lamps," Fish explains. "We simply weren't taking our own good advice. Now, though, we're on track to achieve a 50% lighting energy savings."

To capture the savings potential of the latest technology, Fish recommends reevaluating plant lighting systems at five-year intervals.

Primary to each plant's upgrade is six-lamp T8 High Bay linear fluorescent systems with UltraMax electronic ballasts. Fish notes a color rendering advantage. With the T8 lamps the color-rendering index climbs to 80 from 22 for standard high-pressure sodium lamps or 65 for standard metal halide units.

GE says its retrofit project will annually eliminate 155,700 metric tons of carbon dioxide -- about what is produced by 30,000 average-sized automobiles. The company plans to pursue an accelerated tax deduction incentive allowed by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

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