Applying Intuition – Fixing an Electricity Power Factor Problem

Client’s Challenging Situation:

While touring a family-business friend’s manufacturing operation, we learned that the company was paying large electricity power factor penalties.

Scope of the Problem:

Our friend explained that a senior operations person had left the company. Our friend believed the power factor penalties happened after the senior employee departed. We were asked to perform an assessment of our friend’s electric utility invoices and their facilities. Our friend wanted to know if the problem was a utility billing error or an energy systems operating problem.

Our Solution:

We reviewed the utility invoices and noticed the increase in power factor charges was not gradual and the abrupt increase did occur after the senior operations person had departed. We checked the systems and found the very simple cause behind the problem. Somehow, the knowledge of power factor correction had not been transferred from the senior operations person to others at our friend’s company. The capacitor banks had been turned off. We located the switch and turned them back on. The power factor problem was corrected.

The Value Delivered:

This simple fix reduced our friend’s company’s electricity invoices by thousands of dollars. As a side benefit, energy management procedures were put in place to ensure operations knowledge was shared between operations employees…so problems like this could not occur in the future.

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