With energy costs near record highs, industrial manufacturers are trying to find ways to cut their energy use and draw on renewable sources of energy. What may be surprising is the number of ways that industries tackle that challenge.

In the food processing industry, Lakeville, Mass.-based Ocean Spray has fuel- and money-saving plans for its plant in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. The facility is preparing to use methane gas from a nearby landfill to fuel the boilers used to energize a cranberry concentrator currently being installed. Ocean Spray and Onyx Cranberry Creek Landfill have agreed to build a one-mile-long pipeline to supply the landfill gas to the facility, cutting Ocean Spray's fuel costs by 25 percent.

With Ocean Spray literally tapping that gas to power its boilers, greenhouse emissions from the landfill will be reduced by nearly 7,000 tons a year. The environmental benefits this will produce are equivalent to planting 15,000 trees or removing carbon monoxide emissions from 12,000 cars.

Methane gas is a reliable and renewable fuel source produced from the natural decomposition process of waste materials, the largest source of man-made methane gas in the United States. The use of the methane gas is a strong conservation measure, utilizing a renewable fuel that otherwise would not be recovered for beneficial use.

Pipeline installation and startup of the company's new cranberry concentrator is scheduled for early fall, in time to process the 2005 cranberry crop.

Ocean Spray and Onyx, a Milwaukee-based waste service company, are investing a combined total of more than $2 million in the project.

Elsewhere, other companies are harnessing new technologies to reduce energy consumption as well. Energy and Power Solutions Inc., Costa Mesa, Calif., is preparing to build three large cogeneration plants at dairy food processing facilities in southern California and Massachusetts. With financing from New Energy Capital Corp., Waltham, Mass., each project will be fired with natural gas and will produce two megawatts of power while providing heat for food processing. The projects will employ natural gas-fired engines with heat recovery systems to generate electricity and thermal energy. By producing both power and heat in the same units, the plants are expected to provide energy to the processing plants more efficiently than through separate electricity procurement and thermal production.