Penda Finds Efficiency through Strategic Energy Management

Penda Finds Efficiency through Strategic Energy Management

Portage, WI
Alliant Energy

Madison, WI – Having a shared vision has been the key to a successful collaboration between Focus on Energy, Penda Corporation, and its utility, Alliant Energy.

The three have worked towards the collective goal of identifying and implementing energy-saving projects at Penda, with a recent example being the creation of a Strategic Energy Management (SEM) process.

“We meet monthly by phone to make sure strategic energy management remains a vital component of Penda’s normal operations,” said Bill Lumsden, an energy advisor with Focus on Energy. “Our combined efforts keep energy management top of mind, and it shows. Penda is onboard with the relationship 100-percent and is one of our top performers. Their enthusiasm and energy initiatives are yielding positive results.”

At the heart of SEM is building a continuous improvement mindset. If a company already has a means of continuously improving processes regarding safety, quality, or throughput, it is well-positioned to extend that thinking to continuously improving management of its energy resources.

Penda Corporation makes thermoformed plastic products and has been an industry leader for years. The space helmet worn by John Glenn when he became the first American to orbit Earth on February 20, 1962 - was fitted with a visor manufactured by Fabri-Form Company, which merged with Penda Corporation in 2013.

A clear illustration of the company’s success working together with its partners to continuously improve energy management is the impact of oven retrofits.

“Our biggest surprise,” said Dave DeBolt, head of MFG Continuous Improvement at Penda. “We initially didn’t think there were any savings to be found (in oven retrofits), but it turned out to be a very big one. In fact, the savings were enough to help us get all of the machines completed.

“We had a savings of $35,000 per oven we upgraded. The performance yielded a return on investment of just over two years and virtually eliminated our oven maintenance downtime at a cost of over $400 per hour.”
The relationship between Penda, Focus on Energy and Alliant began simply with one or two projects and has developed into an ongoing effort that touches everything operation through the Strategic Energy Management process.

“I have support from upper management to work on almost anything with a rebate,” DeBolt said. “Some of the projects are quite big and take a lot of effort to complete, but I work well with Bill, and that makes the whole process easier.”

When asked to identify the biggest challenges in this collaboration, Lumsden flagged two.

“The first one was to identify energy savings projects, and the savings and payback associated with them. Second was securing the finances to implement the good projects. Focus on Energy and Alliant Energy were able to help with both,” Lumsden said. “(We) can assist on energy savings projects from many different angles, like technical support, portable sub-metering, custom grants, rebates, low-cost financing and the Strategic Energy Management support. We’d like to work with all large energy users.”

When asked what he’d like other manufacturers to know about Focus on Energy, Alliant Energy and the impact their shared vision can have on reducing energy waste, DeBolt noted, “If they don’t get involved, they’re throwing money out the door.”

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

Dave DeBolt Photo

Portage, WI
Alliant Energy (Wisconsin Power & Light)

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