In Southwest Michigan, saving lives and saving energy go hand in hand — thanks largely to an innovative program administered by Consumers Energy.
The Business Energy Efficiency New Construction Program of Consumers Energy has been used to support more than 100 expansion projects by various hospitals, medical clinics and life-science companies throughout the greater Kalamazoo-Portage region of Southwest Michigan.
These include advanced air distribution through water-cooled condensers; boiler tune-ups; installation of high-efficiency air-conditioning systems; central lighting controls; LED tube lighting; enhanced snow melt controls; advanced power strips; and a wide variety of other energy-saving tactics and systems.
“If you look at just large health care and hospital projects in the Kalamazoo area, we have assisted organizations with 113 energy-saving projects from 2009 to the present,” says Amy Glapinski, senior program manager of commercial and industrial specialties and multifamily for clean energy products for Consumers Energy. “One large health care organization accounted for 61 of those projects, while a second large health care organization accounted for another 36. These two customers were responsible for 85 percent of the projects.”
The other 15 percent came from smaller health care customers in the Kalamazoo and Portage area. “Statewide, you will see a similar story,” notes Glapinski. “Where there are larger population centers, there are naturally larger pockets of health care campuses, and in these areas you will see these programs be utilized greatly as well.”
The savings add up. The 113 projects conducted in the Kalamazoo-Portage area have already amounted to $560,000 in incentives for Consumers Energy customers, with 85 percent of that coming in electric usage. The energy savings, meanwhile, add up into the millions. Consumers Energy calculates that the energy savings in the first year alone from the 113 regional projects accounted for 5,600 megawatt hours of electricity and 4,200 million cubic feet of natural gas.
Jill Bland, managing partner of Southwest Michigan First, notes that two local companies — Pfizer and Stryker — showed interest when Consumers Energy offered this program to large medical customers. The energy efficiency incentives offered a prized tool in the toolbox.
Pfizer Global Supply announced a $465-million, 450-job, 400,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its sterile drug manufacturing operation in Portage, just a quarter mile from where Stryker Instruments is building a new 485,000-sq.-ft. facility to house the company’s instruments division, including research and development operations, office space and new product training facilities.
Working with Consumers Energy, competitive energy infrastructure installation and other electric and natural gas support will help save Stryker significant annual energy costs. Once this facility is complete this year, Stryker will create about 100 new jobs.
About a half mile away, Stryker Medical is doing an additional $110-million, 260-job, 250,000-sq.-ft. expansion of an operation that makes hospital beds and other hospital furniture. “They are building from a sustainable perspective,” says Bland. “Consumers Energy is a partner with all of these projects.”
Stryker purchased 288 acres from Pfizer in order to do its medical instruments project in the City of Portage. “Pfizer had excess land, and we linked the two companies,” notes Bland. “They began having conversations a year before the deal was put together. The current Stryker Instruments project will sit on roughly 80 acres of that property. We worked with the city on how we could utilize the existing streets around the parcel. The company is very considerate of the community. They decided to put a new roadway to the property to keep traffic off the residential street.”
New lighting, as well as new walking, biking and hiking trails, will all be available to both Stryker workers and area residents. “We worked with the Michigan Department of Transportation to determine how best to install new signaling on Portage Road,” says Bland. “We also worked with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and the city on tax abatement and a million-dollar business development grant.”
She adds that “this new plant is absolutely a landmark facility. This is an R&D center that will be spectacular.”
This Investment Profile was prepared under the auspices of Consumers Energy Company. For more information, contact Dan Gretzner at 517-788-7144 or go to www.ConsumersEnergy.com/econdev.
Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.