A combination of State and Federal Government grants is to be made available to food processing companies to finance technical investigations of their use of energy.
"We want to help them identify all areas where they may be using too much power, so they can adapt their production procedures and use energy more efficiently," Deputy Premier Ian Taylor said today.
Mr Taylor said the ‘Energy Audits’ would be conducted by private consultants with the two Governments each sharing a third of the cost - or up to $5,000 each. The food companies themselves would have to cover the remainder.
The Department of State Development was implementing the scheme as part of the WA Advantage program.
"The food processing industry was identified in the program as being one of Western Australia's key export industries of the future - and its use of energy is a critical factor in ensuring that it is financially competitive," Mr Taylor said.
"But there are other advantages to be had from good energy management. For every $45 you can save in energy costs, that is about 3 gigajoules in electrical power which we do not have to produce.
"In other words, there are considerable environmental gains to be had, too. That same energy-saving translates into a reduction of 400 kilograms of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere."
Mr Taylor said although the State Government was directing considerable effort towards reducing energy cost, all such efforts would go to waste if companies themselves did not use energy efficiently.
"Most companies, particularly small companies, do not realise that the way they do things can have a profound effect on their energy consumption," he said.
"All too often, energy bills are treated as an inescapable impost and little or no thought is given to the fact that much of that usage may be unnecessary.
"It is not a matter of simply going around and switching off electric lights.
"It is more a matter of finding ways of making products with the minimum amount of energy."
The Minister said in reality that could involve redesigning the production room; and installing more energy-efficient equipment.
The audit program would initially be targeted at about 80 food-processing companies in the hope of persuading them to conduct investigations.
"Among manufacturers, food processors are some of the biggest consumers of energy, so it is important that we help put their industry right first," Mr Taylor said.