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Northern California independent grocer North State Grocery Inc., which runs 14 Holiday Market and Sav Mor Foods stores, teamed up with PG&E’s EnergySmart Grocer program for a large-scale retrofit of all of its stores. The upgrades include some of the more innovative efficiency solutions available to grocers today.
EnergySmart Grocer, which offers energy expertise plus rebates to offset the costs of high-efficiency upgrades, recommended North State Grocery install the Zero Zone Crystal Merchandizer as a way to replace open refrigerated cases and greatly increase efficiency without sacrificing the look of the display.
"We were very excited to upgrade our refrigerated cases with the Zero Zone Crystal Merchandiser," said Richard Morgan, North State Grocery president. "We’re always looking for ways to reduce our energy use and EnergySmart Grocer has been a great partner in helping us get there. With the rebates and on-bill financing, we can make these changes to all of our stores with less upfront costs. We get to see the savings right away."
Open cases are notoriously inefficient because of the way the cool and warm air can intermingle so freely, according to EnergySmart Grocer. The case works harder to stay cool, and the store’s heating system has to work harder to overcome the refrigerated air that’s escaping. The Zero Zone Crystal Merchandiser solves this problem by providing a nearly frameless all-glass case that reduces infiltration and air leakage.
For North State Grocery, this solution significantly decreases refrigeration load, in many instances using only 10 percent the energy of the case system it’s replacing. With such a strong forecast of energy savings, the company decided to make the retrofit to all 14 of its stores.
In addition to the Zero Zone Crystal Merchandiser, other energy upgrades being made during the 14-store retrofit include LED case lighting, refrigeration controls and night covers. For those stores that have already completed the installations, the results have been positive. The North State Grocery in Palo Cedro, for instance, is looking at 263,576 kWh in annual savings, while the Cottonwood location is set to save 181,577 kWh.
Along with EnergySmart Grocer rebates, the program also utilizes PG&E’s on-bill financing plan. Out of the 14 stores involved in the retrofit, 11 have already qualified for on-bill financing and the remaining stores are set to receive it as time and funding permits. With on-bill financing, there’s no upfront cost to the grocer (unless the loan exceeds $100,000) and the interest rate is zero. This financial assistance has played an important role in enabling North State Grocery to pursue such a large-scale retrofit across all of its stores.