Longtime Dairy Cooperative Invests in Long-Term Efficiency
Midwest Natural Gas & Westby Utilities
Westby, WI – Westby Cooperative Creamery (WCC) has been around more than 100 years, but it was a series of actions that spanned just a few weeks of 2018 that will help keep WCC efficient and competitive well into the future.
The first step was WCC contacting a contractor, PBBS Equipment Corporation in Cottage Grove, about upgrading the creamery’s old process steam boiler, which was used heavily at a facility that receives 400,000 pounds of milk each day from its farmer owners.
“We use our boiler for cooking, processing and cleaning our primary equipment in the plant,” WCC Maintenance Supervisor Hassan Fortney says.
PBBS is a FOCUS ON ENERGY® Trade Ally, so the contractor contacted one of the Energy Advisors with Focus on Energy’s Business Incentives Program and asked about any financial incentives that might be available for the project.
“By working with Focus on Energy and PBBS, we identified that our boiler burner, which was installed in 1978, was oversized for our present steam boiler. We knew there were other options and opportunities to be more efficient and decrease our costs, so we began carefully investigating equipment that would better suit our needs,” Fortney explains. “While some equipment may be purchased at a lower cost, it may not be as efficient overall. We were fortunate to find a system that included oxygen monitoring with a variable speed blower, which allows us to use all available steam while decreasing the cost of gas to operate the system.”
In addition to energy expertise and guidance, Focus on Energy offered the creamery financial incentives totaling more than $23,000 to help offset the cost of investing in the more efficient equipment. But the timeline of the project posed a problem.
The WCC Board had to approve the new burner and the creamery’s management wanted to present the board with an exact incentive amount at its next meeting. Focus on Energy learned of the project on July 11, got the documentation from WCC on July 16, then rushed to have the project pre-approved and the incentive amount set by July 24, one day before the board met.
Heading into 2019, Westby Cooperative Creamery continues to make the best quality cottage cheese, sour cream, dips, yogurt, cream cheese and organic products, but it’s using less energy and saving an estimated $21,000 a year in energy costs.
“Focus on Energy provided us with the incentive to invest in green technology, and while we did not select a system with the lowest purchase price, we know it will be more efficient long-term based on the cost of operation and ownership,” Fortney says. “Partnering with Focus on Energy and PBBS was one of the best decisions we recently made to improve our overall plant efficiency.”
WCC is a gas customer of Midwest Natural Gas and an electric customer of Westby Utilities, two of the 107 utilities across Wisconsin that fund the Focus on Energy program. Customers of those 107 utilities are eligible for the energy expertise and financial incentives the program offers to businesses, homeowners, farms, schools and local governments.
The most recent independent evaluation found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy programs creates $5.93 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs, and reduced pollution.
About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.
About Westby Creamery
Since 1903, the Westby Cooperative Creamery, located in the “Heart of Dairy Country” in Westby, WI, has been producing high-quality cultured and hard cheese dairy goods under the same principle – small production batches and top quality milk make for a great product. The Westby Cooperative Creamery is farmer-owned, meaning the more than 100 farmers and their families who supply milk daily to the creamery, own the business. Our farmer-owners share a philosophy in ensuring the best welfare to their animals with rBST-Free milk*; no hormones are injected into the cow to make them produce more milk.