Four Seasons Produce

Fast Facts

Industry: Cold Storage
Location: Ephrata, PA
Program: PJM Synchronized Reserves Market and Emergency Load Response
DR Strategy: Curtailment and Backup Generation
Primary Curtailment Strategy: Chiller Reductions
Annual Payments: Approximately $25,000

The Big Picture

Four Seasons Produce, Inc. is one of the largest independent produce wholesalers in the United States, with almost 200,000 square feet of temperature controlled warehouse space. Located in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, this progressive company prides itself on its smart use of technology and ongoing innovation. Its ambitious energy reduction initiatives are designed to help lower an annual electricity expenditure of approximately $700,000.

Four Seasons partnered with EnerNOC for demand response (DR) in 2007 and participates in the Synchronized Reserves Market and Emergency Load Response programs offered by PJM Interconnection, its regional electric grid operator. Estimated annual payments of approximately $25,000, significant reduction of energy use, and uninterrupted operation are just some of the main benefits EnerNOC brings to this innovative produce distributor.

Low Impact Energy Reduction Strategy

During a short-term Synchronized Reserves dispatch, Groff and his team receive phone calls and emails from EnerNOC two minutes before the company’s refrigeration systems are shut down remotely from EnerNOC’s headquarters in Boston. If facilities personnel are on-site during a dispatch, they also manually shut off a dozen electric breakers to decrease energy consumption. Dispatches last approximately ten minutes and when they are over, the refrigeration systems go back online automatically.

“Since we’re only shut down for a few minutes, these dispatches don’t have an impact on our operation,” says Groff. “Beyond our facilities staff, no one even knows it is happening.” In the first six months after joining the program, Four Seasons experienced approximately 25 short-term dispatches, which all went smoothly and without incident.

During an Emergency Load Response dispatch—which occurs relatively infrequently, primarily during the high-demand summer months—Four Seasons might be called upon to shut down its refrigeration for longer periods to avoid a brown-out or shortage from its energy provider, PPL Corporation. To reduce energy use, Four Seasons combines refrigeration adjustments with the use of a backup generator. During these more urgent situations, Four Seasons’ facilities managers receive the same notifications, and undergo the automated shutdown and seamless restarting processes.

The Results

Four Seasons’ overall energy reduction during a DR dispatch ranges from 400 kilowatts (kW) per dispatch over the winter months to 1,000 kW during the summer months. Groff expects annual payments from EnerNOC of approximately $11,000 for its participation in the Synchronized Reserves market and an additional $14,000 from the Emergency Load Response program.

Four Seasons did not have to make any changes to participate in EnerNOC’s demand response programs, which it considered an easy way to reduce energy use. EnerNOC handled the installation and metering, and provided full-scale consulting to identify the best energy reduction strategies. Payments from EnerNOC go directly toward Four Seasons’ energy bills.

The Benefits

“While we appreciate the payments, we’re not just looking to save money,” says Groff. “We’re also trying to reduce our footprint and be more sustainable as a company.” Beyond the bottom line, partnering with EnerNOC brings a wide range of benefits to Four Seasons:

Visibility through Energy Intelligence Software

As part of its demand response partnership with EnerNOC, Four Seasons deployed EnerNOC's energy intelligence software, giving Four Seasons visibility into its real time energy consumption.  “We did not have in-house metering,” recalls Groff. “Thanks to EnerNOC, we now have Internet-based metering on our switches. So I can see our usage and make adjustments if we need to reduce during peak rate periods. Plus, I can forecast kilowatt usage more accurately, so we’re never surprised at our bill.”

Smarter Use of Resources

Participating in EnerNOC’s DR programs is one aspect of the company’s wide-ranging sustainability and energy initiatives—all aimed at reducing overall waste, water use, energy consumption, and carbon emissions. For example, Four Seasons has installed more efficient lighting systems that generate less heat, as well as a power quality system to use electrical power more efficiently.

Automation and Control

EnerNOC automatically initiates the energy reduction process, which proceeds ahead without requiring attention from the facilities staff. However, Four Seasons Produce always retains full control over energy reductions, and can choose to override any shutdown— without penalty. “We’re very comfortable with automatic curtailment,” says Groff. “Because if we need to, we can always take control back.”

A Reliable Demand Response Partner

“The EnerNOC team is very qualified and helped simplify the somewhat confusing field of demand response,” says Groff. “They have proven to be an excellent partner. And they’re very responsive—so I get quick answers to any questions I have.”

The Future

EnerNOC’s energy intelligence software will continue to be an important tool for generating revenues and reducing energy use. Working with EnerNOC, Four Seasons Produce will continue to explore new ways to reduce even more energy usage.