Continuous Energy Improvement at Hiland Dairy

A grant and rebate from the local electricity provider and other energy savings made the cost of the dairy’s sustainability project negligible.

Gallon Filler

After implementing a continuous energy improvement project, Hiland Dairy's Norman, Okla., plant achieved an energy savings of nearly 1.1 million kWh or 12.2%. The energy saved is equal to the removal of 769 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions or 1,134 single-family homes' energy usage for a year.

All of Hiland Dairy’s processing plants have implemented sustainability efforts primarily through recycling and water conservation. Participation in energy savings goes hand in hand with those efforts and is another step in the direction for sustainability, according to the dairy processor. With Oklahoma electrical plants at full capacity and by reducing the dairy plant’s energy, Hiland helps Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E) avoid building new power plants and allows the utility company to keep electricity affordable for residents.

During 2017 and 2018, Hiland established a baseline of energy usage, then started and completed its energy-efficiency efforts in 2019. For example, in March 2019, the plant used 599,748 kWh, compared to 751,490 kWh in March 2017. In August 2019, the plant used 692,205 kWh, compared to 886,065 kWh in August 2017.

Cusum Of K Wh Norman[1]

A retrofitted LED lighting system cost $110,000, but Hiland received $55,000 back from an OG&E grant. In addition, OG&E provides a 2-cent rebate for every kWh of energy saved, which amounted to $21,751.40 in 2019. Plus, $57,859 in annual savings were achieved due to reduced energy usage. “The grant, rebate, and energy savings made the cost of the project negligible,” says Norman Plant Manager Steven Boydston.

Energy-management coaches suggested behavioral modifications, such as thermal and lighting controls, and engineering controls, such as reducing runtime on equipment through efficient measures. Other changes included updating the thermostat system from standard mercury to programmable digital thermostats, changing parameters on the refrigeration system, decreasing and increasing some parameters to reduce energy use of compressors, and using sunlight on bright days to harvest daylight and reduce usage of some lights.

Hiland employees formed an energy team, wrote a charter, and started working on ways to satisfy recommendations. All dial points were set at exact numbers, and manufacturing-process refrigeration was set at a more appropriate degree. Energy team members were trained on how to use ultrasonic leak detector tools.

“A sense of teamwork was established at the plant,” says Boydston. “The energy team always thinking of ways that the plant can be more sustainable.” Other Hiland plants have adopted similar programs.

For this project, Hiland Dairy’s Norman, Okla., plant received a third-place honor in ProFood World’'s annual Sustainability Excellence in Manufacturing Awards. The awards ceremony will be held at PACK EXPO International in November 2020.

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