From a news release issued by Focus on Energy:

With potato-processing plants around the world, McCain Foods has a total production capacity to make more than one million pounds of french fries an hour. In fact, the company makes one-third of all frozen french fries in the world. Despite the high performance required by its plants, saving energy is no small potatoes for McCain Foods.

With the help of Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, McCain Foods’ plants in Appleton, Fort Atkinson, Plover and Rice Lake, Wis. have reduced energy consumption by 4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 647,688 therms of natural gas annually – enough energy to power 1,070 homes for a year. The company will also save $875,000 on its energy bills each year.

“Focus on Energy was an invaluable asset to help us find energy saving solutions,” said Andrew Green, plant engineering manager at McCain Foods. “Their technical expertise and assistance have assured us that we’ll see a strong return on investment for our projects.”

Since 2008, McCain Foods has received $485,000 in cash incentives from Focus on Energy to boost its efforts toward becoming more energy efficient. Together, the company’s four Wisconsin plants have completed many energy saving projects, including plant-wide lighting upgrades, heating and cooling system improvements, updates to compressed-air systems, the installation of a variable-speed drive on a wastewater-treatment system and more.

But the biggest energy saver is an innovative heat recovery system installed at the Plover plant last month. The system captures “waste” heat from the plant’s three exhaust stacks and uses it to preheat water for the boiler system. Reusing this heat enables the plant to significantly reduce its natural gas use and saves $594,000 a year. Focus awarded a $300,000 incentive to help get the project off the ground.