Get Paid to Cut Power Consumption

April 3, 2012
The ability to measure and model energy consumption has benefits that go beyond allocating energy costs to products and processes.

It also allows companies to participate in the demand-response programs being offered by many utilities. In these programs, utilities pay businesses to reduce their energy consumption during times of peak demand.

Supervalu Inc., a grocery retailer based in Eden Prairie, Minn., reports that two of its distribution centers in Pennsylvania have been able to generate between $75,000 and $115,000 in annual revenue by participating in one of these programs. And the enabling automation also has led to greater efficiencies in energy utilization. “These facilities each have refrigerated space with operating temperatures ranging from –12 to 55 degrees,” says Richard Druce, director of facilities maintenance. “Approximately 50 percent of the energy consumption of these facilities is due to their refrigeration systems.”

The key technology driving these savings is the OptoEMU Sensor, a hardware appliance from Opto 22 ( of Temecula, Calif. “The sensor monitors a variety of utility meters and submeters, as well as the voltage and current of load panels, chillers, and refrigeration units,” explains Arun Sinha, Opto 22’s director of business development. “The collected energy data is sent from the sensor over the Internet to NetPeak, the company running the energy-management program for Supervalu.”

NetPeak Energy Group LLC ( of Green Bay, Wis. analyzes the energy-usage data to help the distribution centers buy optimally priced power and match their loads with the available demand-response programs. At periods of peak demand, NetPeak notifies the centers that they need to begin curtailing their power usage. Because refrigeration units are their heaviest consumers of energy, systems integrator Advanced Energy Control ( of Randolf, Wis. installed control automation that reduces the equipment’s power consumption while ensuring that food is preserved properly.