An energy assessment does for a large industrial plant what the more familiar energy audit does for a private residence. It analyzes where energy is spent excessively, comes up with changes that could be made, and then prioritizes and recommends those changes to the company. The ultimate goal is to analyze energy consumption and promote energy conservation. It is a program entirely administered by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The energy assessment is done by a specialist employed by the Department of Energy. This individual will come to the plant's location and work on site for three days at larger plants. For medium and smaller sized plants, an energy assessment will be done at a university-based facility. During this time, the analysis will be done using specialized software developed specifically for the task. The process is entirely free for the company, though the suggestions made will almost certainly come with a cost.
Conducting an energy assessment for small and medium-sized businesses can only be done if the company meets certain requirements. For example, the company must have fewer than 500 employees, but have energy bills of between $100,000 US Dollars (USD) and $2 million USD. The company must have sales of less than $100 million annually. Such an energy savings can represent a significant boost to the company's bottom line. The company must also be within 150 miles (240 km) of a university that conducts such assessments.
Those companies wishing to take advantage of an energy assessment must do some preparation work beforehand to ensure they will be accepted. This includes verifying how much energy is used, and submitting any supporting documentation required to get approved. In addition to the technical requirements, there are also other stipulations the Department of Energy makes for those companies that will be receiving an energy assessment.
One of the most important requisites before the assessment begins is to make sure the company's management fully comprehends what is at stake. These assessments provide a potential average energy savings of $2.5 million USD per year. That is why it is so attractive to so many companies. Many of the things suggested may be relatively inexpensive to implement, but they may require a few extra duties, or a few minor inconveniences.
Those who implement the recommendations from the energy assessment will likely be asked to share their accumulated experience with other companies. This is considered part of the civic duty from receiving the benefits of the free program. The goal is to encourage other companies to participate by showing them the benefits are real, not just theoretical.