Energy Audits Pinpoint Ways to Save

Talk about ROI! Make a no-cost energy audit your plant’s next investment.

By Mike Pehanich, Plant Operations Editor

4 of 4 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 > View on one page

The success of the Mountain View plant relies heavily on its refrigeration system for hydro-cooling and cold storage. What made the investment doubly enticing was that the capital cost of reworking the refrigeration system into a more energy-efficient operation was also reduced by financial incentives provided by its utilities provider, Pacific Gas & Electric (

Reworking the refrigeration system involved more than increasing the size of the piping. Insulation had begun to deteriorate, and the system controls were not functioning effectively. So inefficient was the system that it required more than one compressor during light load conditions.

Grimmway’s comprehensive solution eliminated an entire engine room and its two refrigeration compressors from the system. In addition to the piping and insulation upgrades, the carrot processor installed new valves for better control. State-of-the-art digital, programmable temperature and defrost computer controls helped optimize the refrigeration cycle.

The energy savings tallied from the investment were 3,400,000 kWh per year – enough to qualify for PG&E’s Standard Performance Contract (SPC) program and its $300,000 incentive. This offset a large part of the cost of the capital-intensive energy project.

The SPC Program, administered by the state’s investor-owned utilities, provides significant incentive payments to companies that retrofit their commercial and industrial facilities with energy-efficient systems. The incentives are based upon kilowatt-hour and therm savings that are measured and verified by the participating company for two years following implementation of the project.

“In effect it has really been a program of partnership…both locally here with the Kern Division and through the main office in San Francisco,” says Black.


Energy providers will roll out the red carpet for big customers…and the red wagon, too, when needed.

Food processing operations are often some of the biggest users of energy in a given region. Utility providers should be anxious to keep them happy.

Publix, with retail stores and processing facilities for dairy, bakery, deli and produce in the area of Lakeland, Fla., is a favored customer of local utility provider Lakeland Electric.

“The Publix dairy plant is contracted to receive 27 tractor truckloads of raw milk per day,” notes Lakeland Electric key account executive, Ron Pierce. “So it is important to keep them up and running.”

As the utility’s largest customer, Publix negotiates a favorable energy contract rate with Lakeland Electric. But it’s on the service end where the utility steps up its attention.

An advanced transfer system that encircles the Publix processing complex monitors and controls feeds and distributes power as needed. The system design was a joint effort of Publix and Lakeland Electric. The utility has advised and provided engineering assistance to Publix on the energy angle of other projects, too, including a recent freezer installation for ice cream storage.

“Our service emphasizes power quality and reliability,” says Pierce. “The utility is ready to assist at any time.”

That claim was put to the test when a fire disrupted energy distribution to the dairy facility at the Publix processing complex.

“We worked with Publix around the clock after the fire,” says Pierce. “They had a new modified atmosphere banana storage facility under construction. A new feed had been installed, but we hadn’t installed the switch-gear yet. We were able to put it in the dairy.

“Within seven hours they had the new feeds.”



Top 10 Energy Efficiency Recommendations
for Bread and Bakery Products
  1. Use most efficient type of electric motors
  2. Analyze flue gas for proper air-fuel ration
  3. Use energy-efficient belts and other improved mechanisms
  4. Install compressor air intakes in coolest locations
  5. Reduce the pressure of compressed air to the minimum required
  6. Eliminate leaks in inert gas and compressed air lines/valves
  7. Insulate bare equipment
  8. Insulate steam/hot water lines
  9. Install timers and/or thermostats
  10. Install setback timers
Editor's Note:

  • Use demand controller or load shedder
  • Minimize water usage
  • Optimize plant power factor
  • Preheat boiler makeup water with waste process heat
  • Repair faulty insulation in furnaces, boilers, etc.
  • Use outside air for compressor intakes
  • Lease/purchase baler; sell cardboard to recycler
  • Improve lubrication practices
Source: Energy Information Administration survey; via Alliant Energy
Most of these recommendations also were suggested for plants processing fluid milk, sausages and prepared meats, meat packing, poultry processing and flour and grain mill products categories. Additional recommendations from these other food categories include:


4 of 4 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 > View on one page
Show Comments
Hide Comments

Join the discussion

We welcome your thoughtful comments.
All comments will display your user name.

Want to participate in the discussion?

Register for free

Log in for complete access.


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments