Bright Energy Solutions

JBS USA LLC Saves $215,500 With Energy Upgrades

Like all companies working to succeed in a weakened economy, JBS USA LLC (JBS), formerly JBS Swift & Company, strives to do more with less, by cutting unnecessary expenses and operating as efficiently as possible. But, JBS also has a vision for the future, which includes smart investments in their operation that will yield long-term savings.

And with the help of energy efficiency rebates from Worthington Public Utilities and Bright Energy Solutions, JBS began an energy improvement project that’s expected to save them about $215,500 per year. 

JBS is a 155-year-old family-owned food processing company that exports to more than 110 countries.  The Worthington division of JBS is a start-to-finish pork processing plant that employs about 2,300 people, the largest employer in this southwest Minnesota community of more than 11,200 residents. JBS is also Worthington Public Utilities’ largest customer in terms of energy sales.

Churk Tennessen, plant engineer and Jeff Buysman, assistant plant engineer at JBS, are very proactive in exploring energy-saving projects for the plant.  In 2007, they began searching for ways to make their refrigeration system more efficient since it is a substantial part of the plant’s electric load.  Through ongoing discussions with Vida Iten, customer service supervisor at Worthington Public Utilities, and Joni Livingston, energy services supervisor at MRES, JBS knew that if they could reduce power usage in the plant, there would be rebates available to help them cost-justify the project.  

The pork processing plant hired Palen Kimball Company of St. Paul, Minn., to conduct an energy audit and identify opportunities for energy savings.  Palen Kimball is known for providing unique custom design/build and retrofit solutions for mechanical systems.  They serve industrial, manufacturing, commercial, and institutional customers in Minnesota and around the world.  Michael Mercier, Palen Kimball’s vice president of the design/build division, proposed five possible energy conservation measures for JBS to consider.

At the same time, JBS also applied for cash incentives as part of the Bright Energy Solutions’ Custom Program, realizing that the BES program was crucial to obtaining management buy-in.  “We knew the project was worthwhile over the long term, but the BES incentives would help shorten the payback period,” Buysman said. “That’s what management was looking for and they approved three of the measures that would yield the best potential for savings.”

The pork-processing company began by adding two evaporative condensers to its ammonia refrigeration system that would lower the head pressure and condensing temperature by nearly 5 degrees.  Lower head pressure in a refrigeration system means a lower plant compression ratio (in brake horsepower per ton – BHP/Ton), which in turn means big operational savings. The additional condensers produced significant peak demand savings, and about 28 percent of the energy usage savings for the project.

JBS also installed new condenser controls on its refrigeration system to maximize the compressor’s performance and efficiency.  The controls reset the condensing discharge pressure setpoint downward, based on the outdoor ambient wet bulb temperature.  This action sacrificed condenser fan power for compressor horsepower, resulting in very substantial energy savings for JBS.  The control-system upgrade accounted for about 66 percent of the energy savings for the entire project.

The third measure was to separate compressor oil heat rejection loads from refrigeration heat rejection loads and to turn off condenser fans during the mild weather months.  This was done by installing a dedicated bank of condensers to cool the compressor oil through natural convection, rather than using a mechanical pump. The installation accounted for about 6 percent of the project’s energy savings and a small amount of demand savings.
Buysman says the efficiency measures are producing the expected results, and the company is already benefiting from the savings.

And now that the project is completed, JBS recently received a $144,896 rebate check from Worthington Public Utilities and Bright Energy Solutions for its energy efficiency upgrades.
In addition to saving the pork processor money, the improvements also are helping the environment, cutting 4.35 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity use, and reducing its electrical demand by up to 338 kilowatts (kW).

“This project was definitely one of the fun ones. The willingness of the utility to get behind this unique application and help secure the incentives for the customer just made the whole team excited about the outcome,” said Mercier.

For more information about Bright Energy Solutions energy efficiency programs for residents or businesses, go to www.brightenergysolutions.com or call Worthington Public Utilities at 507-372-8680. 

Contact Information:  
Mike Mercier       Jeff Buysman
Palen Kimball LLC      JBS USA LLC
1717 University Avenue W     1700 Hwy 60 NE
St. Paul MN 55104      Worthington MN 56187
Phone:  651-747-4524      Phone:  507-372-2301
Email:  m.mercier@palenkimball.com    Email:  jeff.buysman@jbsswift.com
Web:  www palenkimball.com