Refrigerated Distribution Company Cuts Demand Charges and Reduces Annual Energy Spend by 40 Percent at Ohio Facility; Pennsylvania Site to Follow Suit

There would have been no way without Enel X to see what was going on. I mean, I could have guessed at a whole lot of things and crossed my fingers, but honestly, I can’t imagine running this place without it

Phil Watson, Chief Engineer

For both Solon and Cranberry Township, demand response dispatches are simple. Each facility shuts down all non- essential electricity consumption, yet operations continue normally. Trucks load and unload without interruption, and customer orders are unaffected.

During dispatches, the facilities maintain inventory quality and continue to fulfill customer orders without interruption. “We’re not handcuffed with any loss of work when we go into our response,” says Smith. “And we know that if we need to start up again, we have that option.”

When Using More Means Spending Less

A few months after being enabled with Enel X’s software, Great Lakes hired Phil Watson as its new chief engineer. The 35-year cold storage and refrigeration veteran knew immediately that he had to address the $55,000 per month electricity bill at the Solon facility.

Watson eagerly embraced Enel X’s software as a key tool to enable better energy management. “Once I found the graphs, I started watching them closely,” explains Watson.

The real-time energy usage data accessible through Enel X gave Watson insight into not just the facilities’ overall energy consumption, but also the actual cost of his operational decisions. Based on the information he was seeing in the software, Watson began running the facility 24/7—a decision that ultimately meant Great Lakes consumed more kilowatt hours of electricity, but dramatically smoothed out the facility’s load curve and reduced expensive peaks. This somewhat counter-intuitive approach was a direct departure from his predecessor’s approach, but armed with the data in Enel X’s software, one that quickly gained traction. “That decision stirred up a big thing. Everybody here just knew the power bill was going to be ungodly,” recalls Watson.

Optimizing for Efficiency

Backed by a supportive CEO, Watson continued his focus on operational adjustments to manage energy costs. He changed the defrost times in the building and shut down equipment that didn’t necessarily need to be running, all the while carefully watching the effects by logging into Enel X. By mid-2011, Great Lakes had reduced Solon’s monthly bill from $55,000 to $50,000 per month, and that was just the beginning.

Watson continued to dig deeper, adjusting the operation of the refrigeration system so that they used only what was needed to keep facility temperatures at targeted levels and verifying that lights weren’t being left on at night. Through continuous monitoring the Great Lakes team realized that even small changes, like keeping doors closed, had a big impact.

“With the helpful demand graphs in Enel X’s software, all you need to do is keep an eye on it to find where your problems are,” Watson adds.

At the end of 2011, the monthly bill was down to $45,000, and at the end of 2012 it was down to $32,000.

“There would have been no way without Enel X to see what was going on. I mean, I could have guessed at a whole lot of things and crossed my fingers,” Watson adds, “but honestly, I can’t imagine running this place without it.”

Director of Operations Tom Johnson works closely with Watson to implement operational changes at the Solon facility. “Previously, I hadn’t seen firsthand the results of energy management,” says Johnson. “What Phil has done to level out the power usage is surprising and impressive. We’ve seen significant savings in energy costs, there is no question we are greener, and on top of that our refrigeration equipment is not as taxed as it used to be.”

Watson’s work in reducing these expenses, says CEO Pat Gorbett, was crucial to supporting the company’s bottom line during a challenging stretch for Great Lakes.

With the Solon facility running as Watson wants it, the next step for the Great Lakes team is to replicate the approach to finding and correcting inefficiencies at the Cranberry Township facility.

The Benefits:

New Insights & Savings Opportunities

By logging into Enel X, Watson can watch his facilities’ energy consumption in real time on a regular basis and especially during demand response dispatches. “I can sit at home on my iPad and tell exactly what’s happening in the building,” he says.

Easy access to and intuitive interaction with consumption data provides new insights into ongoing energy use and helps target costly inefficiencies. Using Enel X, Watson shares that he has cut more than a quarter of a million dol- lars off the Solon facility’s annual electric bill.

New Source of Funding

Great Lakes uses the savings it achieves from better energy management to advance other energy management projects at its facilities, such as a lighting upgrade that is expected to deliver significant costs savings by replacing over 300 lighting fixtures with the latest energy efficient technology.

Gorbett is also looking forward to the replacement of the Solon facility’s 25-year-old doors in 2013. “I know we’re losing a ton of energy out the old doors. The new doors will go a long way toward saving even more energy,” he adds.

Verifying ROI

Once the lighting projects, door replacements and other projects are complete, Great Lakes will be able to quantify the economic and energy savings impact of these capital improvement projects easily and precisely using Enel X’s software.

Community Support

Through their partnership with Enel X, Great Lakes helps support and protect the businesses and residents where its facilities are located. “When there is an extreme need for power, we’re able to reduce what we use,” says Gorbett. “In turn, we’re helping the community because more power is available for the general population. It’s a win-win for everybody.”

An Ongoing Partnership

With Enel X, Great Lakes gains an ongoing energy management partner with wide-ranging expertise, including a suite of powerful applications that address key energy management challenges.

The Future

Leveraging its experience with Enel X’s energy intelligence software, Great Lakes is committed to expanding its energy efficiency achievements. With several initiatives ready for implementation, including bringing the Cranberry Township facility up to the Solon facility’s operating standards, Great Lakes is well on its way to achieving even greater energy savings.

Previously, I hadn’t seen firsthand the results of energy management...We’ve seen significant savings in energy costs, there is no question we are greener, and on top of that our refrigeration equipment is not as taxed as it used to be.

Tom Johnson, Director of Operations

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