What's happening in Litchfield

LED streetlight project replacing water heater program

The Litchfield City Council recently approved a new program to replace the city’s street lights with LED bulbs, which use less electricity and require less maintenance than the high-pressure sodium bulbs that currently illuminate the city. The new LED program is expected to cost about $175,000.

To help fund its LED lighting project, the city is ending its water heater program, through which residents have been able to obtain new water heaters without charge. Litchfield City Administrator Dave Cziok said over the past two years the company that provides the heaters, Marathon, has struggled to fill orders which made terminating this program an easy decision.  Anybody who has already ordered a water heater through the program will still receive one.

The water heater program was instituted in 2009 as way for the city to manage its residential electric load and help the utility meet their energy savings goal as required by the state. With the water heaters, the city also installed controls which allow the city to turn off heaters during periods of peak energy use.

Minnesota Rubber and Plastics: A Partnership in Innovation

MN Rubber and Plastics

Ketan Deshpande, Vice President of Engineering for Minnesota Rubber and Plastics, has a goal: Manufacture product in the quickest, most efficient way possible. To reach his goal, Mr. Deshpande and contractor Energy Management Solutions of Excelsior, MN, approached Litchfield Public Utilities with an innovative way to redesign their manufacturing process through a three step process.

Step one was to install faster, more energy efficient, new molding equipment. Step two was to employ higher cavity tooling to reduce manufacturing time. Step Three was to develop and use a multi-drop cold deck approach. A “cold deck” system, relatively new in rubber and plastics manufacturing, eliminates the need to cure the material on its way to the mold. This results in less material that needs to be mixed, milled, extruded, and molded. The shorter manufacturing time and reduced material needs means that less heating is used and the equipment operates for fewer hours while manufacturing more product.

To prove the concept, Minnesota Rubber and Plastics and Energy Management Solutions conducted side–by-side comparisons of a standard injection mold compared to a cold deck strategy. The measurement and verification documented a savings of 87.50 kW and 632,156 kWhs for the first three applications. Litchfield Public Utilities provided a rebate in the amount of $28,447.01 to help them implement this exciting and innovative approach to manufacturing. Just another way that Litchfield Public Utilities is working with our customers to use energy wisely.

Lighting bonus rebate sparks efficiency efforts


When Dale Miller, Executive Director of ProWorks, Inc., learned that Litchfield Public Utilities was offering a bonus lighting rebate, they jumped at the opportunity to upgrade their building’s outdated, less efficient lighting. By taking advantage of the utility’s standard lighting rebate coupled with the bonus, Ms. Cook were able to reclaim nearly half of the total project cost for the T12 to T8 hotel retrofit while saving money and energy with the new equipment.

“The rebate program can really help a small business,” Mr. Miller said. “Eventually every business will need to upgrade, so why wouldn't you take advantage of the rebate program.”

Fluorescent lamps are measured in eighths of an inch.  The “T” number is the diameter of the lamp.  So a T12 lamp is 1.5 inches in diameter, while a T8 lamp is 1 inch.  The narrower the fluorescent lamp, the more energy-efficient it is.

T8 and T5 fluorescents are longer lasting, have better light quality, and can reduce lighting costs by up to 45 percent, with attractive 1-3 year simple paybacks for the building owner.  In fact, some T8 fixtures are rated to last up to 4,000 hours longer than T12s – nearly two years longer for a typical office.

first district

Pictured from left to right is Litchfield City Administrator Bruce Miller with First District Association CEO Clint Fall with a check for more than $36,000.

Improving the bottom line and helping the environment: A community partnership 

Both the First District Association (FDA) and Litchfield Public Utilities have been members of the Litchfield community for a very long time, so it isn't surprising that these two stalwarts would team up to manage energy costs, minimize their environmental impact, and help to provide a quality product.

FDA has its roots in the community dating back to 1920. As part of the community, FDA recognizes the need to continually improve its operations and minimize costs to stay competitive in a global marketplace. As part of its continuing efforts, FDA underwent a major retrofit replacing existing inefficient lighting with high-quality new fixtures and bulbs. Additional savings were achieved by installing Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) on various motors throughout their facility.

To help address the costs associated with this upgrade, Litchfield Public Utilities provided $36,008 in rebates. By working together, FDA reduced their power demand by 45 kW and saved over 1.5 million kWh in 2009 alone. This will save 1,576 tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted and is the equivalent of planting 625 acres of trees.

Not bad for a little community partnership.

Anderson Chemical reduces lighting consumption

AC1 When Anderson Chemical was looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption lighting was their first thought according to Plant Manager Rodney Brekke. 

"We were looking for ways to reduce our energy costs and improve our facility at the same time.  We accomplished both with this project.  The new lights are fantastic compared to the old ones.  After the replacement, many people commented that they thought we had repainted the warehouse racks over the weekend.  The improvement was that dramatic." says Rodney Brekke, Plant Manager at Anderson Chemical.

Ultimately, Anderson Chemical replaced 86 400 watt Metal Halide fixtures and 86 T12 fluorescent fixtures with high efficiency T8 fluorescent fixtures.  In return for upgrading their lighting, Litchfield Public Utilities provided Anderson Chemical with an $8,869 rebate.  As a participant in Litchfield's Energy Management Program, the reduction in Anderson Chemical's energy demand was noticed immediately.  Their weekly average demand dropped from 111 kW before the retrofit to 90 kW after the retrofit (a reduction of 19%).

"Litchfield Public Utilities is committed to working with our customers to help them save money and use energy wisely," says City Administrator Bruce Miller.  "That includes our lighting rebates, energy management program, and many other services that we provide to our utility customers."

Trico 1

TRICO gets cash back on compressor

Litchfield, MN -- When TRICO TCWIND needed a new air compressor, energy costs were a factor according to Chief Financial Officer Brice McDonald.  Ultimately, TRICO purchased an Ingersol-Rand Variable Speed Rotary Screw Air Compressor and worked with Litchfield Public Utilities to quantify the savings and apply for a utility rebate.  In return for selecting a high-efficiency model, Litchfield Public Utilities provided TRICO with $854.40.  It is estimated that TRICO will realize a reduction in their electric demand by almost 4 kW and lower their energy needs by over 9,000 kWh a year.  As a result, TRICO expects to save $771 each year off of their electricity bills compared to the costs to operate a standard-efficiency air compressor.


"Litchfield Public Utilities is committed to working with our customers to help them save money and use energy wisely," says City Administrator Bruce Miller.  "Our programs expand beyond lighting and allow us to work with customers like TRICO on many diverse projects such as air-compression."