Algoma Orchards

Fast Facts

Industry: Produce
Location: Newcastle, Ontario
Program: Ontario Power Authority (OPA) DR3 Program
DR Strategy: Curtailment and backup generation
Primary Curtailment Strategy: Curtailment
Annual Payments: Approximately $20,000

The Big Picture

Algoma Orchards, a family-owned commercial orchard in the Durham Region of Ontario, is dedicated to serving its community with quality produce and products. Its state-of-the-art apple cider facility processes thousands of gallons of cider and apple juice for wholesale customers. Its new apple packing center ships apples to grocery stores throughout Canada. And its popular country market offers 28 varieties of farm-fresh apples, as well as other fresh produce and gourmet foods from its in-store deli.

When it first heard about demand response with EnerNOC, orchard owners saw it as another chance to help their community and the Province. “We were initially interested in the whole concept of demand response because we like the idea of helping our community by reducing energy use during key times,” says Mike Gibson, owner of Algoma Orchards. “It makes real sense for our business to support the grid and help the environment in any way that we can.”

During demand response dispatches, Algoma Orchards shuts down much of its processing operation, allowing it to reduce its energy use by approximately 400 kilowatts (kW). While these temporary changes help ensure the reliability of the energy grid during periods of peak use, they have no effect on Algoma Orchards’ overall operation. Production is simply rescheduled. And by participating in demand response, Algoma Orchards earns annual payments of approximately $20,000.

Doing What’s Right for the Province

EnerNOC DR provides relief to Ontario’s electric power grid, reducing emissions from power plants and costs for Ontario ratepayers—while helping ensure a reliable flow of power throughout the Province. When EnerNOC receives a dispatch command from Ontario Power Authority, it alerts more than 100 Ontario-based businesses and institutions to reduce non-essential electricity consumption. Among them is Algoma Orchards, a thriving apple orchard and juicing operation on the northern shore of Lake Ontario.

“We’re a business that’s very aware of energy and environmental issues,” says Mike Gibson, owner of Algoma Orchards. “We know the importance of doing what we can to reduce energy use when we can. It helps the environment and helps our business.” The Gibson and Kemp families have been growing apples in the Durham Region of Ontario since 1964. So Algoma Orchards is deeply ingrained in its community. By participating in demand response with EnerNOC, it helps other residents and businesses avoid any interruptions in power.

The center of Algoma Orchards' operation is an 115,000 square-foot facility that houses its fresh packing production line, juicing operation, and offices. This facility was constructed in 2009 and includes state-of-the-art equipment and a high degree of automation. Sustainability and energy efficiency were key priorities during the construction of this facility, which operates year-round.

EnerNOC worked closely with Gibson and his facilities team to evaluate the facility’s current energy use and identify opportunities for temporary energy reductions. “It was pretty simple,” recalls Gibson. “We worked with EnerNOC to monitor and measure our energy use, then figured out what equipment we could or couldn’t shut down temporarily.”

Algoma Orchards has a wide range of equipment in its facilities, from juice chillers to its packing operation. “Depending on where we are in the production cycle, some of our equipment has to keep running,” says Ken Ferguson, maintenance manager. “But other parts of our production line can be shut down temporarily.” The team’s attention focused on the large refrigeration units used to chill fresh apples. “We knew that these units were really efficient,” says Ferguson. “Once the pulp is cool, we can shut off the refrigeration for a few hours with only a minor rise in temperature, even on hot summer days.”

Ensuring the integrity of its produce and juice is vital to Algoma Orchards—and its reputation for quality. “By shutting off some of our equipment temporarily, we’re not affecting quality in any way,” says Gibson.

The Results

During recent DR dispatches, Algoma Orchards achieved its target energy reduction of 400 kW consistently. Gibson, Ferguson, and other key personnel receive emails and phone calls from EnerNOC, alerting them that dispatch is forthcoming. Depending on what equipment is operating at the time, Algoma Orchards can respond accordingly, manually shutting down non-essential equipment.

Participation in EnerNOC DR earns Algoma Orchards annual payments from EnerNOC of approximately $20,000—funds that help support other energy-efficiency efforts, such as replacing outmoded lighting.

During a dispatch, Ferguson logs into EnerNOC’s energy intelligence software (EIS) platform to monitor performance and make any necessary adjustments. He also monitors the production line to identify any issues. Production tasks are rescheduled for other shifts and workers simply make up the hours at another time. “Everyone knows we’re participating in demand response with EnerNOC,” says Gibson. “And they’re very supportive, since it serves a clear purpose and gives back to the community.”

Once the dispatch is over, Algoma Orchards resumes normal operation, with no lasting effect on its produce or its operation.

The Benefits

Supporting its community was main driver behind Algoma Orchards’ decision to make demand response part of its operation. “I think demand response is a great idea,” says Ferguson. “And I’m happy our facility can participate with EnerNOC. We’ve got to reduce power somewhere and slow down consumption, rather than other people having brownouts and other problems.”

Other benefits that EnerNOC brings to Algoma Orchards include:

Payments from EnerNOC

Algoma Orchards is well aware of rising energy costs; its monthly energy costs range from $30,000 to $40,000. So the opportunity to earn payments from EnerNOC appealed to its bottom-line business sense. 

A Streamlined Process

EnerNOC kept the whole process of enrolling and participating in demand response as simple as possible—an important consideration for a busy operation like Algoma Orchards. EnerNOC partnered with Algoma Orchards to assess its facilities and create a workable curtailment plan. And responding when EnerNOC sends out a DR dispatch is also simple. Within minutes, Algoma Orchards personnel can shut down the necessary equipment. And returning the processing line to normal operation is just as quick and easy.

Better Visibility into Energy Use

During implementation, EnerNOC installed monitoring equipment at Algoma Orchards. Using the EnerNOC's EIS platform, Algoma Orchards can measure and monitor energy consumption in real-time, during demand response dispatches and beyond—from any computer, 24/7/365. This capability gives Algoma Orchards more knowledge about its energy use—information that can leverage into new savings.

Protection of Quality

Algoma Orchards must protect its reputation for quality. Its participation in demand response does nothing to affect its apples, apple juice, cider, or other products. And its production facility stays well within food safety guidelines at all times.

A Commitment to Sustainability

Algoma Orchards works to reduce its environmental impact as much as possible. By partnering with EnerNOC, it provides tangible proof of this commitment, which is shared by the orchard’s more than 100 employees. EnerNOC helps Algoma Orchards’ business, its community, and the residents and businesses in the broader Province.

The Future

Algoma Orchards is just beginning to tap the knowledge gained from EnerNOC's software to make new changes that reduce use. And it continues to look for new ways to reduce its energy consumption, during DR dispatches and beyond.