Minnesota Power is widely recognized as a leader in commercial energy efficiency. Business owners and building operators trust the electric utility to provide honest commercial energy analyses as well as project design assistance, information on new technologies, and rebates to advance energy-saving projects and technologies. For more than 20 years, members of the Energy Insight, Inc., team have helped Minnesota Power build this stellar reputation.
Energy Insight is Minnesota Power’s primary commercial energy consultant and service provider, helping businesses served by the utility identify and implement building projects and process improvements that reduce energy usage and lower costs. Since 1996, Energy Insight personnel have assisted thousands of Minnesota Power commercial customers, resulting in electricity savings of well over 800 million kWh, a number that continues to grow.
“We view Energy Insight as an extension of Minnesota Power; it is a great relationship,” said Craig Kedrowski, business services advisor for Minnesota Power. “When a commercial customer is concerned about high utility costs or wants an energy audit, Energy Insight is the primary contact. They work with customers start to finish on a lot of projects, and we have total trust in them going out and representing Minnesota Power.”
Like other Minnesota utilities, Minnesota Power has a state-mandated annual energy efficiency goal of 1.5 percent of total retail sales. It is Energy Insight’s job to deliver the bulk of those kWh savings, which must be verified and reported annually.
Energy Insight’s energy engineers and energy analysts travel across Central and Northeast Minnesota, delivering the resources and technical expertise offered through Minnesota Power’s One Business energy conservation program. They work directly with more than 5,000 businesses per year, ranging from small family-owned companies to large manufacturers, hotels, casinos, hospitals, schools and universities.
“We spend a lot of time talking to customers, vendors, contractors and engineers, identifying energy-saving opportunities, researching technologies, calculating potential energy and cost savings, and seeing projects through to completion,” said Matt Haley, vice president of Energy Insight. “We also help customers with rebate applications and assist Minnesota Power with its annual reporting. It takes the burden off of Minnesota Power and its staff.”
“Over the years, regulations have gotten more stringent and stricter,” said Katie Frye, supervisor of customer services and programs at Minnesota Power. “Energy Insight has stepped up and is really good at tracking and documenting energy savings. They make sure all of the documentation is in order to prove the savings they claim.”
Energy Insight also has conducted numerous research projects for Minnesota Power over the years, proving the performance of technologies such as LED lighting and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) in commercial and institutional applications. In addition, its energy efficiency experts assist Minnesota Power customers with B3 and ENERGY STAR benchmarking, data logging, and specialized training, such as Building Operator Certification.
Energy Insight does a great job of staying up to speed on changes in the energy efficiency industry,” Frye said. “They often give us ideas for seminars or technology demonstrations that would benefit our customers. We want to help customers make energy decisions that are the right fit to help them succeed.”
Minnesota Power and Energy Insight fit well together. Several members of Energy Insight’s staff work out of Minnesota Power’s downtown Duluth headquarters. It is a close working relationship that encourages communication, promotes synergy, and speaks volumes to customers.
“Having them housed in our building reinforces the message that Energy Insight is an extension of our team,” Frye said. “Minnesota Power brings the utility expertise about electric service and customer rates, and Energy Insight supplements that with technical expertise and knowledge of energy efficiency. It is a good, well-balanced partnership, and we rely on each other pretty heavily. We are one team.”