SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- As electricity usage ramps up during peak demand periods this summer, Big Y Foods here is participating in an electricity usage demand-response program aimed at conserving resources and preventing blackouts.
Big Y has enrolled six southwestern Connecticut stores and committed to conserving several hundred kilowatts of capacity this summer during peak energy times, according to EnerNOC, Boston, which is helping the chain comply with the program via technology and management services.
The stores have agreed to take measures such as cutting back on nonessential lighting during peak periods specified by ISO New England, Holyoke, Mass., which operates New England's bulk power generation and transmission. In addition to reducing its energy costs, Big Y receives monthly payments from ISO New England reflecting its energy reductions.
"With Big Y's new capability for automatic reduction of consumption during peak hours, we are able to help maintain grid reliability in the region and keep electricity on in the homes of our customers," said Gary Kuchyt, Big Y's energy manager, in a statement. Big Y declined to comment further on the program.
The monthly payments are only one reason supermarkets participate in demand-response programs, said Bob Laurita, senior program administrator for the program at ISO New England. "These [retailers] realize they're making a significant contribution to the local region," he said. "They're helping to keep the lights on for the schools and the hospitals and the fire department and the police station."
Other food retailers using EnerNOC to comply with the same or similar programs are Pathmark, Stop & Shop and Shaw's in the Northeast and Raley's, Sacramento, Calif., said Jennifer Collins, EnerNOC's marketing manager.
The price of employing EnerNOC's systems ranges from $4,000 to $7,000 per store, based on what technology the retailer already has in place. "To enable what we do, they need an interval meter at their facility, and sometimes some work needs to be done, some rewiring and circuit work," Collins said. EnerNOC can, however, sometimes cover costs from the retailer's monthly capacity payments "so there would not be an out-of-pocket expense," she explained.
Supermarkets are ideal candidates for this program because most have their own emergency generators and also a high amount of discretionary lighting, Laurita said.