If a casino finds energy waste risky, should other businesses take note? Over the last three years, Odawa Casino Resort in Petoskey implemented nine energy efficiency projects—all of them through Great Lakes Energy and its Energy Optimization (EO) program. As a result, this business saves 3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) per year—equivalent to removing 406 cars from the road.

“I think, as with any company, energy cost savings would be the biggest reason to implement energy efficiency, but the Odawa Casino Resort also believes it is very important to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Dave Heinz, the Casino’s lead electrician.

Knowledge is Power
In 2009, Great Lakes Energy’s key account manager told Heinz about Energy Optimization rebates for businesses. It was a game changer. The EO program offers rebates on simple projects (i.e., equipment replacement) as well as complex energy efficiency projects unique to a business. The program maximizes energy savings and return-on-investment for businesses.

“I’m impressed by how eager to help and knowledgeable everyone that I have dealt with in the EO program is,” Heinz says. “We have not completed a project that we didn’t get more out of it than we thought we would.”

Project Details
The Odawa Casino Resort started its energy efficiency efforts with lighting retrofits—a practical choice for any business. They replaced thousands of old incandescent lightbulbs with new compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). This alone saves almost $32,000 per year in energy costs.

Last year, they installed variable frequency drives (VFD) on eight belt-driven motors. The VFDs prevent motors from running at full speed all the time, therefore reducing the need for costly belt replacements. Instead, VFDs adjust the motor’s electrical supply to efficiently meet varying process requirements, which saves energy and extends equipment life. Odawa also added coolant valves to its 20 cylinder natural gas-fired generators. This reduced run-time for the 2k to 12k coolant heaters by 60 percent.

In 2012, several 50-inch plasma TVs were replaced by equivalent Energy Star® models that save over $1,400 annually. More significantly, hundreds of slot machines were converted from mini-fluorescent lights to new LED lights, and over 10,000 mini-incandescent bulbs used for mood lighting were replaced with LEDs. These lighting projects on the gaming floor not only resulted in less electrical use, but now the air conditioning system doesn’t have to work as hard to remove waste heat from the lights. This LED project is expected to save over $38,500 annually in electricity costs.

The Casino already has other energy-saving projects in the works for next year.

Saving at Home, Too
Energy Optimization programs are available for residents, too. “I know that our team members take a lot of the information and knowledge gained on the job and use it to save energy at home, too,” Heinz explains.

Rebates on new Energy Star® or energy efficiency appliances are among the most popular incentives. You can also take advantage of a free online home energy audit, energy-saving kit, and refrigerator recycling.

What’s Next?
The Odawa Casino Resort has had repeated success with the Energy Optimization program, and you can, too. Call 877-296-4319 or visit michigan-energy.org to learn about energy-saving options that are ideal for your business, farm or home.

Co-op Member Spotlight Company:
Odawa Casino Resort

Energy-Saving Actions:

  • Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs)
  • Variable frequency drives (VFDs) on motors
  • Custom process improvements
  • Reduced wattage T8 fluorescent lights
  • Cooling system improvements
  • Energy Star® plasma TVs
  • LED lightbulbs in slot machines
  • LED lights for mood lighting

Rebate Amount: $61,687


  • Saved 3.1 million kWh per year
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • Enhanced existing equipment
  • Saved $217,000 per year