Knowing that plastics processors have a steady demand for a lot of electric power, Common-wealth Edison Co. in Chicago has dedicated a staff of 13 to help such customers determine their power use and, if possible, reduce it. Joseph E. Fleming, segment manager for plastics, works for ComEd's Energy Services Organ-ization specifically with plastics processors. He's made visits to about 30 processors in the three years of the program in the Illi-nois service area served by the giant utility. He and his staff are assigned to visit companies using 1-15 megawatts of power to help determine their electric efficiency. Processors average 2 mega-watts of power demand.
He estimates that there are 800 custom molders and processors in the northern Illinois service area, not counting captive operations.
Among processors, Fleming said he has found that dependable supply is as important as inexpensive power.
``Now, with computer controls,'' he said, ``an instantaneous outage is as bad as a long-term outage.''
Key to his efficiency effort is benchmarking the electrical use of presses, heaters, chil-lers and other high-draw electrical machines. ``There isn't a lot of information on machinery demands'' either for individual machines or for types of machinery, such as injection molding machines, he said.
``There's much more on resin producers' demands, because they're bigger,'' Fleming said.
``However deregulation happens, the plastics industry will be highly desirable when competition [among power providers] comes in.''
Keeping customers happy now by analyzing their power de-mands in high-priced peak and low-priced off-peak periods may help to win customer loyalty when deregulation gives those customers a choice of provider, he said.
``We want to keep them competitive amongst themselves in our service area,'' Fleming said.
``A lot of customers are modifying their presses'' to make the most of power rates, which fluctuate from as low as 21/2 cents per kilowatt hour to more than a dime, according to the demands on ComEd, he said.