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Mid-States Aluminum Saving Millions with Energy Efficiency Upgrades

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Mid-States Aluminum Corp.’s investment in energy efficiency included production renovation that is paying off now and will keep providing energy and cost savings for years to come. In addition, the manufacturer’s efficiency upgrades earned it more than $324,000 from FOCUS ON ENERGY®.

The financial incentive, delivered during a ceremonial check presentation at the company on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, is for four separate projects and helps offset the substantial up-front costs of investing in energy-efficient equipment associated with the projects.

“We believe that all manufacturers need to focus on energy conservation,” said Mike Wahl, Director of Engineering at Mid-States Aluminum. “Energy costs are a significant part of our operation costs and, with the purchase of new equipment, we had the opportunity to reduce those costs now and through the life of the equipment. This equipment is planned to run for 30 years.”

The company invested $25 million to upgrade and expand its facility. That includes acquiring a new aluminum extrusion press line, log furnace and aging ovens. The new press line includes more than 2,500 horsepower of variable frequency drives (VFDs) to better manage energy usage. The company also made energy-efficient lighting upgrades and has more efficiency projects in the works.

Mid-States Aluminum collaborated with Richard Feustel, an Energy Advisor with Focus on Energy, to maximize energy efficiency in the new equipment purchases.

“Richard was a real driver on this project. He advised ways to improve efficiency and backed that up with quantitative calculations that allowed us to choose the right equipment,” said Wahl. “We really appreciated Richard’s follow through and passion for saving energy. He was great to work with.”

“[Focus on Energy was] extremely knowledgeable and helpful in analyzing and understanding the costs and benefits,” said Eric Pasket, Manufacturing Process Engineer at Mid-States Aluminum.

“I love the energy and enthusiasm at Mid-States Aluminum,” Feustel said. “Management and associates are involved. From people on the plant floor to engineers to senior executives right to the CEO, they all play a part in the success of the business and that is evident in their approach to energy management.”

Annually, the upgrades will save Mid-States Aluminum $526,283 in energy costs. Over the life of the equipment, the upgrades will save more than 70,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 3,000,000 therms of natural gas. Combined, that’s enough energy to power more than 8,200 homes for a full year.

“Mid-States Aluminum is just getting started,” Feustel said. “They are focused on being the best aluminum extruder in the country. To do this, they must be financially efficient and this requires sustainable operations. They understand and demonstrate that energy efficiency is a motivator to this sustainability.”

Mid-States Aluminum is a ratepayer of Alliant Energy, one of the 107 Wisconsin utilities that partner in the Focus on Energy Program. The utility is installing a new feeder from a substation to support the growth of Mid-States Aluminum and other businesses in the area.

Focus on Energy offers financial incentives and energy expertise to residential, business and municipal customers of its partnering utilities. A recent third-party evaluation noted it runs the most-cost-effective energy efficiency programs in the nation. It also found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates more than $5 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced pollution and reduced energy costs.