Orange County Business Wins Big With Energy Savings

Shmaze Custom Coatings takes advantage of energy-efficiency incentives and summer discounts to save nearly $59,000 on its electric bill.

You may not have ever heard of Michael Shamassian, but if you own a cellphone, drive a car or have watched the Tour de France, you’ve probably seen his work.

For more than 20 years, Shamassian’s Shmaze Custom Coatings in Lake Forest has been designing and perfecting its paint and application techniques to produce a broad range of consumer products ranging from cellphone cases and cycling helmets to high-end sports eyewear.

His success can be attributed in part to a commitment to excellence, but also to keeping a close eye on the bottom line.

“For a small businessman like me, it always starts with the money,” says Shamassian.

So three years ago when his electric bill nearly tripled to $8,000 in one month, it got his attention.

Working with Brian Bustamante, a Southern California Edison account manager, Shamassian learned about several SCE energy management programs designed to help businesses lower their electric bills through energy efficiency.

Shamassian got to work, upgrading some existing equipment and fixtures. He also enrolled in two demand response programs.

His combined efforts paid off with nearly $59,000 in energy-efficiency incentives and billing credits over the last three years. He continues to save about $1,000 a month, even after adding a night shift.

Bustamante says it’s the on-going savings that is the big energy-efficiency payoff for businesses.

“They will continue saving, month after month, long after the life of the project,” he says.

Shamassian’s biggest savings came from installing a new energy-efficient machine that uses heat to destroy the volatile chemicals produced during the coating process. He received $33,400 in SCE incentives for that. Upgrading to energy-saving, light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures added another $7,700 in incentives.

Shannon Curtis, another SCE account manager, suggested Shamassian also enroll in two SCE summer programs that provide billing discounts and credits for cutting back electrical use during periods of high electric demand.

Under the Summer Advantage Incentive program, Shamassian now reduces his costs by voluntarily shifting his electrical use to off-peak hours. He says it causes very little disruption. He simply brings his first shift in earlier and delays some work to the night shift.

Shamassian also participates in the Summer Discount Plan, which automatically cycles the air conditioning off during major energy events. Since 2012, he has saved nearly $18,000 in credits by participating in the two summer programs.

But Shamassian’s not finished. He wants to squeeze out even more savings by installing a wind turbine.

“He’s forging the path and is way out in front of us now,” Bustamante says.