Energy Accounts for 26% of Forest Products Industry Costs, So We're Continually Reducing Energy Use.
With more than 30,000 dedicated workers and annual economic impact of $8.9 billion, Minnesota's forest products industry contributes greatly to the state's employment and financial health.
All this activity also makes the forest products industry one of the state's largest energy users, with energy accounting for 26% of the industry's cost of operation. To reduce this percentage, the industry is continually implementing new electric and gas conservation projects that include production enhancement, new facilities and other operational improvements.
And those enhancements are working.
Nationally, the paper and pulp industry uses 42% less energy today than it used 40 years ago. In Minnesota, the State's four largest paper mills invested nearly $14 million each year from 2006-2010 on conservation and efficiency projects, achieving average annual electric energy savings of over 15 million kWh. Those savings helped reduce the state's "carbon footprint" from carbon dioxide emissions by about 28 million pounds each year - the equivalent of removing approximately 2,500 cars from the road.
The state's board, lumber and other production facilities also continue to implement new efficiencies, all combining to ensure that Minnesota's many fine wood and paper products remain competitive in today's global marketplace.
Affordable energy is necessary to keep affordable products
Forest products made in Minnesota compete with lumber made as close as Canada, paper made as far away as Asia and Europe, and worldwide companies focused on increasing their market share.
The quality of Minnesota's forest products stands up to those made anywhere in the world. To make sure our prices do well, we continue to work hard to keep production costs down.
You're literally surrounded by fine products from Minnesota's forests, including everything in the photo below!
We produce energy in our mills
The state's forest products companies combined self-generate 28% of their own electricity by using many of the renewable resources that go into making their products. Bark, branches and other unused parts of trees help power electric generators, and produce steam and heat to create an efficient cycle of production.
State-set power rates provide challenges
A challenge forest products companies face regarding energy costs is that operating in Minnesota is becoming more expensive than in other states, because of state-set rates. We continue working with the Public Utilities Commission, which sets electric rates for power companies, to reduce those costs to ensure that they are competitive.
Not just diesel fuel, it's biodiesel
The 5.4 million gallons of diesel fuel Minnesota's logging trucks use each year contain biodiesel, which means it's made in part of Minnesota-grown crops to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
Minnesota Power is an important partner
Although the company doesn't directly produce paper or wood products, the electric power provided by Minnesota power helps forest products companies, mining companies and other major industries produce their products.
Without Minnesota Power's major power capabilities, as well as its ongoing efforts to increase its power through renewable resources such as wind, biomass and hydroelectric power, the cost to produce forest products would increase substantially.
Minnesota Power is part of the forest products industry. Not symbolically, but as an active member of Minnesota Forest Industries.
Forest products even transport electricity
Another Minnesota forest products company is Bell Lumber & Pole Company, which since 1909 has produced a variety of products that include the utility poles that carry electric power lines around the country.