Schneider Electric officials discuss specifics about the Superior Energy Performance Platinum rated Seneca, S.C. plant.
Schneider Electric's Seneca, S.C. plant recently won a special distinction from the U.S. Department of Energy's Superior Energy Performance program, which ranks participating industrial facilities on energy efficiency improvements. The Seneca, S.C. plant shared the program's highest rating of platinum with the Smyrna, Tennessee plant.
Jerry Ursy, regional facilities manager at Schneider Electric's Seneca, S.C and Columbia, S.C operations provided some additional commentary about the French company's efforts to showcase energy efficiency in its fleet of North American plants.
First question: What does the Seneca, SC plant manufacture?
The Seneca, SC Plant manufactures motor control centers and electrical breakers for commercial and industrial customers.
Second question: What did the Seneca, SC Plant do to reduce energy by over 15.6% in the DOE Superior Energy Performance Program?
The primary energy reduction technique for the Seneca, SC Plant was a significant overhaul of many twenty year old plus rooftop HVAC units with smarter models which allowed our building managers to manipulate the heating and cooling needs of the building. Additionally, that 15.6% energy conservation equated to over $100,000 in annual savings at the Seneca, S.C Plant which has a power bill of approximately $650,000 annually.
Third question: Why did Schneider Electric decide to focus on the Seneca, SC plant for such a significant energy efficiency project?
Schneider Electric has been a global leader in energy efficiency, so it was natural to focus on our plants as some of the first adopters of energy efficiency. Schneider Electric was an early adopter of ISO 50001 and partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy on a pilot program at the Smyrna, Tennessee plant. Based on that successful pilot, Schneider identified other similar large energy consuming plants in its North American markets for similar energy efficiency efforts. The Seneca, S.C. plant fit the characteristics Schneider Electric was looking to replicate. It should also be noted that the Columbia, S.C. plant is doing some remarkable lighting improvements which garnered that plant a gold rating under the Superior Energy Performance program.
Fourth question: Were there any barriers to implement these energy efficiency upgrades?
Aside from the initial capital expenditure for the Seneca, S.C plant, the only major barrier was a cultural barrier. Because the Seneca, S.C. plant’s conditioned air wasn't managed appropriately, employees would turn on fans which would generate heat themselves, but also pull warmer air from the ceiling down to the 10ft conditioned air space where employees work. The Schneider Electric energy management group focused on understanding the problem and worked to educate employees as the new HVAC units was being installed.
Dennis Edwards and Wade Willatt of Schneider Electric also contributed to the article.