Industry: Cold Storage (Produce)
Location: Guadalupe, CA
Program: EnerNOC Demand Response in PG&E
DR Strategy: Curtailment only
Primary Curtailment Strategy: Equipment shutdowns (ice injectors, ice makers), and delaying vacuum pump operation
Annual Payments: Approximately $35,000
The Big Picture
Guadalupe Cooling Company is a leading produce pre-cooling company that cools, processes, and ships a wide range of vegetables and fruit. It relies on vacuum cooling, HydroVac cooling, pressure cooling, icing, and other processes to protect produce and prepare it for shipping. Many of these processes are energy-intensive, making Guadalupe Cooling one of the larger users of electricity in its community.
The complexity and diversity of the equipment used in Guadalupe Cooling’s 20-acre facility make manual control of energy use extremely challenging. The company wanted to participate in a demand response (DR) program offered by Guadalupe Cooling’s local utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), but needed to be able to control its energy use automatically— without affecting production or quality.
In 2008, Guadalupe Cooling implemented an energy management system from Powerit Solutions. By integrating Powerit with EnerNOC’s energy intelligence software (EIS) platform, the company can now reduce energy during a demand response dispatch—precisely and automatically. As a result, Guadalupe Cooling can provide almost 2 megawatts (MW) of energy—the equivalent of more than half of the company’s total consumption—when PG&E announces a demand response dispatch. This significant energy reduction earned Guadalupe Cooling approximately $35,000 in 2008 in addition to a wealth of other benefits.
Simplifying Demand Response with Smart Technology
Cooling diverse produce for shipping is complicated, temperature-sensitive work. At first glance, a large-scale produce cooling company like Guadalupe Cooling might seem like an unlikely candidate for demand response, since produce must be kept within very tight temperature ranges. However, these facilities are major industrial users of electricity, making them prime candidates for DR. There is also more flexibility in their processes than there might seem to be, as proven by the success of Guadalupe Cooling’s DR implementation.
“If you had told me six months ago that we’d be able to participate in demand response, I would have disagreed,” says Danny Vincent, plant manager at Guadalupe Cooling. “I thought it would be a real mistake to adjust the cooling cycles. But it’s not true.”
Vincent considered DR for several years, attracted by the considerable payments that DR might generate. In addition, DR could help by reducing Guadalupe’s electricity bill while aiding the community and ultimately, the environment. However, to manage a facility with the complexity and scale of Guadalupe Cooling’s operations, the company first needed an energy management system that would control and manage its overall energy use.
Enter Powerit Solutions, a leading technology provider of intelligent energy management systems. Funded by a $270,000 grant from PG&E, and through a close partnership with Powerit, Guadalupe Cooling installed a system that gave the company granular control over its energy usage. With the Powerit system in place, Guadalupe Cooling was now in a position to capitalize on the significant DR market opportunities available in California.
One of the reasons that Guadalupe chose to partner with EnerNOC was because EnerNOC's software integrates seamlessly with Guadalupe’s Powerit system, enabling the company to reduce electricity usage without affecting its operations during grid emergencies.
With the integrated solution now controlling and monitoring Guadalupe Cooling’s energy usage, demand response participation became much simpler. When a demand response dispatch begins, the system automatically responds by adjusting compressors, reducing the number of pressure cooler fans running, slowing the speed of evaporator fans, delaying vacuum pumps and motors, stopping operation of ice injectors and ice makers, and more. These adjustments are carefully controlled by Powerit and monitored by EnerNOC.
“We have to keep a close eye on our operation during a dispatch, and make sure we’re meeting our customers’ requirements,” says Vincent. “But we’re able to make major changes for periods of a couple hours, without affecting our operations. I wouldn’t have believed it in the past. But now, Powerit and EnerNOC made DR possible for us. They minimized our risk—and they made it easy.”
The energy reductions that Guadalupe Cooling charts are impressive, approaching 2 MW in 2008. The DR participation payments from EnerNOC are also significant— approximately $35,000 annually. Going forward, Guadalupe Cooling can adjust its energy reduction amount to ensure that its DR strategy is always in line with overall operational goals.
The Powerit system automates much of the work of responding to a DR dispatch, according to Vincent. “Our maintenance crew does some additional manual shutdowns of lighting and other equipment, which enables us to reduce even more,” he says. “Exceeding our goals raises the payments, so we have an incentive to cut even more.”
During a dispatch, Vincent and his crew use EnerNOC’s profiling application to watch the company’s energy reductions add up. “We log into EnerNOC during DR dispatches to see how we’re performing, and to make other changes if we need to cut even more. We also use it at other times to spot times when cutting some energy use might really save us a lot.”
The quantifiable results are clear. Guadalupe Cooling delivers significant energy reductions to PG&E during summer-season emergencies, when the utility needs them most. In return, Guadalupe Cooling received payments of more than $35,000 in 2008. But the benefits of the partnership with EnerNOC go beyond the bottom line. “We would like to help our utilities avoid having to build new power plants,” says Vincent. “DR requires a temporary adjustment of our operations, but it’s well worth it. DR is good for our company, for our state, and for the environment. I only wish we had signed up earlier.”
The biggest benefit that EnerNOC brings to Guadalupe Cooling is that it is able to achieve significant energy reductions— and subsequently, receive DR payments— without any impact on the quality of its produce or its ability to deliver solutions that meet the needs of customers. Guadalupe Cooling maintains complete control over its operation, thanks to the careful control and automation enabled by the integration of its Powerit solution and the EnerNOC EIS platform. This high level of control reduces risk significantly, while ensuring the quality of Guadalupe Cooling’s operations—and the produce it processes and ships.
EnerNOC brings a range of powerful benefits to Guadalupe Cooling.
In the past, Guadalupe Cooling did not participate in DR because the process of shutting down significant, complicated systems seemed too daunting and risky. With its Powerit/EnerNOC implementation, Guadalupe Cooling gets a sophisticated, fully automated system that takes the work out of large-scale energy reductions. But it also maintains much needed control so that it can monitor and measure changes, making adjustments when necessary.
“Implementation was incredibly easy,” says Vincent. “It’s almost like it didn’t happen. EnerNOC does everything for you. The combination of Powerit and EnerNOC made it possible for us to participate in DR. And they kept it all simple and easy for us.”
Guadalupe Cooling’s DR implementation gives the company multiple scenarios to choose from when reducing energy use. “We can monitor our reductions and see where we’re being successful,” says Vincent. “And we can go with Plan A, B, or C depending on what needs to be shut down. Even though DR is automated, we still make the decisions and retain control—letting us meeting our DR targets while our core operations continue.”
EnerNOC's energy intelligence software lets Guadalupe Cooling take steps to further reduce energy use during a DR dispatch and to save additional money during off-peak periods. With EnerNOC, Guadalupe Cooling gets the information it needs to make better decisions throughout its complex, large-scale facility and to ensure continuity of its sensitive operations.
Reduced Energy Costs
“Energy is one of our top expenses,” says Vincent. “So we’re glad to reduce our annual bill in any way possible. With DR, we can lower our energy costs while helping to protect the energy grid and the environment.”
Vincent advises other produce-related businesses to enroll in DR, but to do their homework when choosing a program. “DR is a great choice for companies like ours, but when you’re dealing with perishable goods, it requires some careful thought and planning—and help from a reliable partner like EnerNOC,” says Vincent. “With every DR dispatch, we learn more and more about our energy use and how to reduce it.”