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A potent partnership

January 9, 2019

Article originally printed in DTE EnergySmarts Magazine

DTE Energy, Consumers Energy and the Small Business Association of Michigan have teamed up to help Michigan business owners reduce their energy costs. SBAM Energy Solutions is the program that makes this possible, and it includes a range of services, including help in analyzing energy accounts, managing outage alerts, arranging for energy consultations, reducing energy usage and more.

Annual rate analysis
Among SBAM Energy Solutions services is an account analysis that helps determine if a member is on a plan that meets their business needs. Caile Richards, SBAM Energy Advocate, says “If a business owner has rate questions or has never reviewed their rate, I connect them with the right people. Annual rate analysis is important. The utility doesn’t know if your business has grown or gotten smaller.”

Managing outage alerts
For a business owner whose bottom line is dependent on electricity, managing potential outages is critical. SBAM Energy Solutions wants every owner to know that DTE (and Consumers) will keep customers updated should an outage occur by providing information in regard to restoration time and notifying them when it is achieved. Sometimes, a prewarning can be given if a severe storm is likely to cause difficulties.

Energy consultations
SBAM Energy Solutions encourages businesses to arrange for a free energy consultation. When performed by a utility expert, it can include the installation of free energy-saving equipment, including LED lamps, faucet aerators, pipe wrap, prerinse spray valves for restaurants and more. All consultations include a check of the building’s seal and insulation, inspections of equipment, an analysis of electricity and natural gas use, and recommendations for energy efficiency improvements.

An energy consultation case study
One Michigan business that learned about energy consultations as a result of their SBAM membership is UTEC, a supplier of office technology equipment. 

“We purchased our building two years ago,” said Kevin Van Kannel, UTEC president. “We’re SBAM members and appreciate all they do for Michigan business. A business owner we met through SBAM told us about the Energy Solutions Program.”

“Our building is 18 years old,” said Anne McMillian, supply Engagement Manager at UTEC. “We updated it when we moved in two years ago, installing LED fixtures and motion sensors, but we realized the warehouse and exterior lighting was outdated and wasting energy. So we called Caile Richards at SBAM and asked him to help us with additional energy efficiency improvements.”

Richards visited the UTEC building and performed an energy consultation that included an inspection and walk-through. He agreed that lighting upgrades were necessary. He brought in contractors to provide recommendations and estimates. Kimberly LED Lighting, a DTE Trade Ally and also an SBAM member, was awarded the lighting-upgrade job. 

Tom Mannino, lighting consultant at Kimberly LED Lighting, said his company replaced 15 455-watt metal halide fixtures in the warehouse with 150-watt LED fixtures. Although using much less energy, they are 15 to 25 percent brighter. Outdoor 215- watt wall packs were replaced with brighter 70-watt LED fixtures. Other outdoor lighting was replaced with similar gains. Overall, annual electric bill savings are estimated at $6,407 per year, and the cost of the upgrade should be paid back in less than two years, thanks in part to $1,691 in DTE rebates.

Energy matters
As an SBAM Member, you can speak with the SBAM Energy Solutions team on any of the following energy-related topics.
•    Availability of energy efficiency programs
•    Assistance scheduling and energy consultation
•    Account overview analysis
•    Account management services
•    Managing outage alerts
•    Billing and payment options

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