Lodge Cast Iron
Location: South Pittsburg, TN
Program: TVA-EnerNOC Demand Response
Power Distributor: Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative
DR Strategy: Curtailment only
Energy Reduction Strategy: Temporary manufacturing shutdown
Total Savings: Approximately $2.3 million
Annual DR Payments: Approximately $130,000
The Big Picture
Lodge Cast Iron produces the most extensive selection of quality cast iron products on the market—including cast iron skillets, deep fryers, and other cookware. Founded in 1896, Lodge Cast Iron has grown to become a powerhouse brand with a devoted customer base around the world. Although the company has grown and evolved, Lodge Cast Iron remains a family-owned business—one that’s deeply connected to the people and businesses in the Appalachian Mountains region.
The company’s initial interest in demand response (DR) was driven by a need to reduce its electric bill, which had doubled over the last few years to reach more than $2.9 million annually. For a smaller manufacturer like Lodge, rising electric costs threatened to take a major bite out of the company’s profits. “We were definitely looking for ways to reduce our costs,” recalls Keith Nunley, engineering manager. “We really had to do something.”
Though it’s a traditional business, Lodge is also committed to integrating advanced technology in all areas of its operations. In 2009, the company joined the TVA-EnerNOC Demand Response program, attracted by the significant payments for participation, as well as by the opportunity to support and protect its community. By partnering with EnerNOC for smart energy management, Lodge regains control over its energy use—and its costs.
When a demand response dispatch occurs, Lodge shuts down its manufacturing operation temporarily, earning annual payments of more than $130,000 from EnerNOC. These shutdowns do not affect the company’s overall ability to serve its customers. Plus, it protects its community from blackouts and other power grid issues.
A Traditional Company that Embraces Innovation
As one of the major brands of cast iron cookware in the U.S., Lodge Cast Iron builds on a strong heritage. It’s one of the oldest cookware companies in continuous operation. And it still makes the iconic cast iron skillet that first popularized the company’s products more than a century ago. However, Lodge diversifies its product line to include new innovations in high-quality cookware. And it continues to change and modernize its business to stay competitive and profitable.
Lowering energy costs is a business priority for the company—one that ensures its ongoing success. Its operation includes two melting furnaces that consume more than 8,000 kilowatts (kW) each, as well as holding furnaces, molding machines, cleaning systems, and conveyors. All of this high-consumption equipment adds up to a major electric bill, which can reach $2.9 million annually.
Energy management with EnerNOC is a key part of Lodge Cast Iron’s efforts to reduce this cost.
“We may be making the same product we made 118 years ago, but we’re continually looking to incorporate new technologies in our business,” says Nunley. “By using EnerNOC’s software in conjunction with our own in-house monitoring, we’ve saved almost 7.5 million kilowatt-hours in usage to date—a reduction that could power 1,125 average size homes per month. Since 2009, when our energy program started, we have saved over $2.3 million dollars.”
Nunley estimates that half of these savings come from its participation in the TVA EnerNOC Demand Response program, which it joined in 2009 with support from its local power distributor, Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative. Additional savings come from efficiency opportunities identified by using the EnerNOC software. “EnerNOC started us off on the path to efficiency,” says Nunley. “And we’ve just continued to take it further.”
Nunley highlights the increasingly active role that Lodge and other area businesses are taking in controlling energy costs. “We’re working more closely with TVA to create tailored rate structures that work for our businesses. And we’re benefiting from programs like demand response, which TVA offers.”
Nunley and other businessmen learned about the TVA-EnerNOC Demand Response program, which fit in well with Lodge Cast Iron’s growing commitment to more sustainable manufacturing practices. “We could just keep cranking away without changing anything, but that’s not the right thing to do,” he says. “We’re exploring green energy, reducing our carbon emissions, and doing what we can to help our business, our community, and the environment. The TVA-EnerNOC Demand Response program is a central part of these efforts.”
EnerNOC worked closely with Lodge Cast Iron to integrate its energy intelligence software platform into its operation and get connected. EnerNOC's software enables the company to monitor and better manage its energy consumption during demand response dispatches and beyond.
“I log into EnerNOC daily, sometimes hourly,” says Nunley. “It definitely gives us a clear idea of how we’re using energy. Now I can see how much electricity it really takes to make our products. That’s information that goes beyond energy use—it affects the bottom line of our company.”
EnerNOC worked closely with Lodge Cast Iron to develop an energy reduction plan that enables quick, simple participation. When a demand response dispatch occurs, Nunley and other key supervisors receive advance notice from EnerNOC via phone and email. “Once we get the word from EnerNOC, we initiate shutdown, which takes about fifteen to twenty minutes,” says Nunley. “We know how to get our equipment down without affecting it, or our products that are in process.”
During shutdown, production workers perform maintenance or are sent home. “Everyone knows why we’re doing demand response,” says Nunley. “They know that it benefits our company and the area, and they’re really supportive of it.” Any temporary change is more than offset by the benefits of participation.
Shutting down has no effect on Lodge Cast Iron’s overall production. The company takes advantage of its existing stock of completed goods to meet the needs of its customers, including Walmart and other major retailers.
When a demand response dispatch occurs, Lodge Cast Iron can reduce energy use by an average of 4.5 megawatts (MW). “Our participation record in demand response dispatches is flawless,” says Nunley. “We’ve been able to participate in all dispatches and reach or exceed our target curtailment amount—all within minutes.”
This reduction earns the company payments of more than $130,000 annually from EnerNOC — but Nunley is clear that the financial impact of EnerNOC's software goes further, helping the company to use less and be more strategic about when energy is consumed. “The knowledge we gain from EnerNOC definitely helps us be more efficient at all times, not just by shutting down our equipment during demand response dispatches,” says Nunley. “We’re saving an additional $15,000 in the summer months by timing our demand in smarter ways by changing how we start up and operate our equipment.”
Lodge Cast Iron is clear that the benefits that EnerNOC offers go beyond financial. “Getting paid to reduce our energy use is great,” says Nunley. “But we also want to do what we can to protect our community.” EnerNOC brings a range of powerful benefits to the company:
Expert Customer Service
“The customer service we received from EnerNOC was absolutely phenomenal,” says Nunley. “They’ve been really helpful, and helped us through the whole process.” Ultimately, this high level of communication and collaboration streamlined the process of making demand response part of the manufacturing operations at Lodge Cast Iron.
No Impact on Customers
Lodge Cast Iron values its customer relationships and does whatever it can to meet the needs of retailers and other valued partners. Demand response does not affect the company’s ability to fulfill its orders and meet demand for its cookware. Inherent flexibility in the production schedule and a very efficient operation allow the company to shutdown briefly without impact—with payments from EnerNOC providing a bottom-line incentive.
New Insights and Efficiency
During implementation, EnerNOC installed monitoring equipment that collects Lodge's energy data and streams it to EnerNOC's cloud-based EIS platform. By logging into EnerNOC, Nunley and his team can measure and monitor energy consumption in real-time, during demand response dispatches and beyond. This capability gives the company new insights on its ongoing energy use and inspires new efficiency.
“With EnerNOC, we’re identifying small operational changes that can make a big difference in energy use,” says Nunley. For example, the company has changed to variable speed drive compressors so they only produce air that they need. “We no longer hold iron in our furnaces over the weekend and this eliminates unnecessary energy use in the melt area. We are also demand reactive, meaning that we monitor demand during every debit period and curtail power on our own to eliminate high peak demand charges.” These changes enable the company to reduce its demand by 800 kilowatts a month, saving more than $15,000 during summer months when demand charges are at their highest.
An Eye-Opening Experience
“EnerNOC demand response opened our eyes to new ways of looking at how we consume everything—not just electricity,” says Nunley. “We’ve become more aware of how we use other commodities, including water, gas, and air. Now we take a close look at our use and look for ways to reduce—instead of just paying the bill.”
Supporting the Community
EnerNOC helps ensure the reliability of the energy grid during peak periods by reducing demand. By being part of the TVA-EnerNOC Demand Response program, Lodge Cast Iron protects other local businesses, as well as the residents of the valley, and helps keep prices stable for all energy users.
Lodge Cast Iron continues to extol the benefits of partnering with EnerNOC. “At this point, we’re telling all the companies we know that they should jump on the TVA-EnerNOC demand response program,” says Nunley. “We’re telling everyone what it’s done for us. And reminding them that they could do it too. It’s simple—demand response makes sense for our business.”