New England’s largest craft brewer cuts energy use in half during grid emergencies
Harpoon Brewery is known for its Harpoon IPA, UFO Hefeweizen, and other specialty craft beers. It’s also known for being a good corporate citizen via Harpoon Helps, its philanthropic arm, which supports local charities with donations and volunteer hours. Harpoon is an innovative, energyaware company that works actively to boost energy efficiency at its facilities and throughout the brewing process.
In 2007, Harpoon enrolled in EnerNOC’s demand response (DR) program offered through ISO New England, its regional electric grid operator. Working closely with Harpoon, EnerNOC developed an energy reduction strategy focused on modifying the settings on their chillers, rescheduling bottling processes, and making other relevant production changes. By following its customized energy reduction plan, Harpoon agreed to reduce 350 kilowatts (kW) of electricity. What’s truly impressive is that this represents more than half of the brewery’s normal electricity load.
EnerNOC DR generates payments of approximately $8,000 annually, which helps Harpoon offset some of the rising prices of raw materials, such as hops and glass, and protect its margins. However, the company’s decision to choose demand response wasn’t just financial. It felt that flexibility in its production processes make DR possible without any great hardship on its employees—and with no effect at all on the quality of its beer. Harpoon leaders are clear that the company wants to do the right thing for the environment. They see EnerNOC DR as part of the company’s innovative business strategies, which make Harpoon a model in the brewing business and beyond.
Boston, MA and Windsor, VT
EnerNOC DemandSMART - New England
| DR Strategy:
| Primary Curtailment Strategy:
Process and bottling shutdown, lighting and HVAC adjustments
| Annual Payments:
Major increases in the cost of hops, barley, and wheat—as well as fuel and electricity— put small batch microbreweries like Harpoon under pressure to cut costs. The goal? Avoid increasing prices or reducing margins, all while maintaining the legendary quality of its beers.
With EnerNOC DR, Harpoon can generate new revenue by reducing energy usage throughout its operation. These energy reduction measures have minimal effect on the business, and no effect on product quality. “Making beer is a complicated process,” says Warren Dibble, vice president and chief financial officer (CFO). “However, our operations process can have some flexibility in it. While some stages in our process are temperature-sensitive and cannot be adjusted, others—such as packaging—can be postponed and rescheduled after a DR event. For example, we can often delay bottling for a few hours without issues.”
During demand response events called by ISO New England, Harpoon’s regional electric grid operator, Harpoon receives notification from EnerNOC and begins reducing its energy usage at its Boston, MA and Windsor, VT breweries. It adjusts or shuts down some of its processing equipment, lighting, and heating/air conditioning in its facilities and then moves its production crews to other projects for a few hours.
Brewery staff members notice the changes, but are extremely accommodating when they know the reason behind them. “Once they know that it’s because we’re helping avoid a larger problem with the energy grid, they get it,” says Dibble. “And they’re completely supportive of demand response.”
The end result is reduction of approximately 350 kW of electricity, an impressive figure for a smaller operation. Even more impressive is the fact that Harpoon is cutting its energy use in half during a DR event. For example, during a recent emergency event—when a major regional transmission line went down—Harpoon was able to reduce energy consumption at its Boston brewery from 240 kW to approximately 80 kW.
In terms of financial results, EnerNOC’s DR program generates a steady stream of additional revenue of approximately $8,000 annually for Harpoon. These payments from EnerNOC help offset rising commodity and energy costs, keep the price of Harpoon’s product competitive, and protect margins. Though these financial benefits are much appreciated, they’re not the only reason Harpoon participates in DR.
“Being part of EnerNOC’s demand response program is part of our goal to think about the impact our business has on the environment,” says Dan Kenary, president of Harpoon. The company has an extensive recycling program. It has completed a full lighting retrofit. The spent grains from its brewing process are used as feed at local dairy farms. In addition, Harpoon is working to reduce its carbon footprint.
The top benefit EnerNOC DR offers Harpoon is that it enables the brewery to earn revenue without any effect on the quality of its product. Other key benefits that EnerNOC DR brings to Harpoon include:
EnerNOC made it easy for Harpoon to enroll in DR by taking care of all the details, including reviewing their sites, identifying appropriate strategies, installing metering, and providing ongoing, responsive support.
EnerNOC DR gives Harpoon the flexibility to make energy reduction decisions based on the timing of the event. Its energy reduction strategy during a specific event may vary based on where certain beers are in the production process, inventory demands, and other factors.
“In the past, we knew what we were spending on electricity every month, but we weren’t sure exactly where it was going,” recalls Dibble. Now, with access to EnerNOC’s free, web-based energy management software, DemandSMART, Harpoon can log in and see its current energy usage, and how much energy specific pieces of equipment are using. “We can see how we’re using energy, not just how much,” says Dibble. “And that lets us understand our demand – free of charge – so we can make better decisions.”
Harpoon worked closely with EnerNOC throughout the process of evaluating the site, determining the right strategy, installing the metering, and more. “We’re very impressed with the caliber of EnerNOC’s people, and appreciate how responsive they are,” says Dibble. “Our EnerNOC contact even hand delivers our checks.”
As Harpoon expands its Boston brewery, it continues to look at new ways of reducing energy usage and increasing energy efficiency. And it continues to leverage the knowledge that it gains from DemandSMART, such as identifying new machinery that might become part of its energy reduction strategy.
“I think that other companies considering demand response should definitely sign on with EnerNOC,” concludes Dibble. “DR allows you to understand demand and run your business better by controlling energy costs. Plus, it creates revenues. As a CFO, I find that hard to argue with.”