Feds and Food Processors
by Rob Manning
Federal officials were in Portland yesterday to sign an agreement with Northwest food processors. The agreement they signed was to sharply cut their energy use - over the next decade. Rob Manning reports.
Only the region's timber mills consume more electricity than operations run by Northwest food manufacturers.
But food makers plan to use a lot less. Food makers and the Department of Energy will work together over the next ten years to cut electricity use by 25 percent.
Sergio Dias, with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, helped broker the voluntary agreement. He says the next step is to figure out how to meet that goal.
Sergio Dias: "How do we measure this, how do we track it? How do we collect data so that we know what projects to work on? How do we know if freezing is where we should start, or canning is where we should start?"
Food industry leaders say the right answers will come with help from energy experts.
Doug Kaempf is a top federal energy administrator who flew out from D-C to witness this agreement.
He sees the Department of Energy offering money and answering questions. But he also says the food makers to keep their eye on the big picture:
Doug Kaempf: "What are they going to look like in 20 years? And I ask them, 'are you going to be in business in the U-S in ten years?'. Those are real good questions to ask."
Jim Root: "The answer is an emphatic 'yes'."
Food producer Jim Root says Oregon's geography is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, he says Oregon has excellent soils for growing food.
Jim Root: "On the other hand, we sit in a location quite distant from our global marketplace. And hence there's a very large energy component to what we do."
That large energy component helped drive food producers to seek that 25 percent efficiency goal.
Industrial leaders, though, are wary of some government efforts to mandate energy conservation - especially if that mandate comes from the state or regional level.
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