The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) helps industrial facilities cut costs and reduce pollution by increasing energy efficiency.
SWEEP promotes best practice utility energy efficiency programs serving industrial customers throughout the Southwest. We also promote efficient electrification technologies to serve process heating needs, such as industrial heat pumps.
*Savings and benefits data preliminary as of spring 2023.
Areas of focus
Best-practice industrial utility programs
Utility industrial energy efficiency programs in the Southwest
Industrial customers account for a significant percentage of electricity consumption in the Southwest states. All of the major electric utilities in the Southwest have programs to help industrial and other large customers improve the efficiency of their electricity use, while cutting pollution and combating climate change. These programs help the utilities achieve their energy saving goals while helping industrial customers stay competitive and provide jobs to the communities in which they operate. In addition, electrification technologies can help industrial facilities reduce air emissions from fossil fuel combustion, while improving their productivity.
SWEEP's work on utility industrial energy efficiency programs
SWEEP encourages the utilities in our region to adopt best practice programs to help industrial customers reduce their energy consumption through improved efficiency. We do this through ongoing dialogue with each utility’s commercial and industrial program managers, and through providing comments on the utilities’ plans as they are being developed and finalized. We also encourage programs to promote industrial electrification technologies, as these become cost-effective.
Industrial energy efficiency opportunities
About industrial energy efficiency opportunities
Most industrial facilities have many opportunities to reduce their energy consumption through improved efficiency — reducing energy costs and helping improve competitiveness while reducing carbon dioxide and other harmful air emissions. Some of the main obstacles to improved energy efficiency include shortages of staff and capital, and often a lack of trained staff or technical expertise.
SWEEP's work on industrial energy efficiency opportunities
SWEEP plays an active role in encouraging industrial energy efficiency improvements, through research into technologies and energy management practices, promoting improvements to utility industrial energy efficiency programs, and facilitation of industrial energy efficiency networks in the southwestern U.S.
Opportunities to save energy
Motors, pumps, and fans
Motor-driven equipment, including pumps and fans, accounts for about 64 percent of electricity and about 30 percent of total energy consumed in the industrial sector. There are two general tactics for saving electricity in motor systems: developing a plan for upgrading your motors to premium efficiency motors when they require replacement, and matching instantaneous motor power most efficiently to the needs of the task. These tactics will save energy and reduce maintenance costs, and they may also improve productivity by preventing motor failures.
Compressed air systems
Compressed air accounts for about five percent of total electricity consumption in industry. Most plants use compressed air for at least some functions; for many, compressor energy is a substantial portion of the electric bill. Many compressor systems are often poorly designed, have leaking fixtures, and motor/compressor systems are frequently mismatched to loads. Suggestions for curbing energy waste in air compressor systems include the following: Use properly-sized, energy-efficient compressors driven by energy-efficient motors and associated storage tanks that are matched to loads; ensure that systems can operate efficiently at part loads; use electronic controls on individual compressors to optimize pressure and output; consider installing a smaller, high pressure compressor to meet a specific need in order to allow the main compressor to operate at a lower pressure; meter energy, flow, and other parameters to assess performance; and maintain the system to minimize air leakage.
Many industrial facilities use process heating for a variety of operations. Direct process heating (not including steam systems) accounts for about one-fourth of total industrial energy use. Opportunities to improve efficiency in this area include: Optimize burner air to fuel ratios; maintain clean heat transfer surfaces; install furnace pressure controllers; install waste heat recovery systems; preheat combustion air; reduce air infiltration in furnaces; and reduce radiation losses from heating equipment. In addition, new electrification technologies can help reduce energy costs or improve productivity while reducing emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Some of these technologies require more demonstrations and market development. The U.S. Department of Energy is promoting many opportunities for utilities and industrial facilities to partner in developing these new technologies.
About 20 percent of all energy consumption by industry is used to generate steam, which is used for a variety of process heating applications as well as facility space heating. There are many opportunities to improve the efficiency of steam systems, which can be summarized into four main areas: Steam generation (boiler controls, water treatment, maintenance/cleaning of heat transfer surfaces, matching pressure to end-use needs, etc.); steam distribution (better insulation, steam trap maintenance, and finding leaks); steam end-use (heat exchanger maintenance and other measures to optimize end-use); and condensate return (optimize the amount of condensate return and use of low-pressure steam).
Lighting is responsible for approximately four percent of total electricity use in the industrial sector. There are many opportunities for energy savings through lighting upgrades in many industrial facilities, such as: Replacing conventional high intensity discharge lighting with LED or efficient fluorescent fixtures; paint ceilings and sidewalls with a white semi-gloss paint; and upgrade outdoor lighting and exit signs to LEDs.
State programs that encourage industries to establish energy savings goals, recognize outstanding achievements, and provide technical assistance.
Rules that allow or require electric utilities to offer beneficial electrification programs to industrial customers.
Rules to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from industrial customers, with options for trading and purchasing high quality GHG emissions offsets.
Resources and publications
Industrial Program Director
Support our work
Supporting SWEEP’s Industrial Program allows us to help industries harness the economic advantages of better energy efficiency for optimized cost savings, plus the invaluable benefits of cleaner and healthier air, clean water, and climate forward policies to help the communities in which they do business.