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Case Study:  Four Star Fruit

"Spara is a proven tool for smart grid connectivity in our field, and we know our customers will be interested in further driving down their energy costs via Powerit's peak demand control, automated demand response and dynamic pricing features."

Satyen Prabhu
President & CEO
Inductotherm Corp.

Grape Grower Keeps Lid on Energy Costs as Business Booms

What do you do when your business is growing like crazy — and your electricity costs are growing even faster? From 2008 through 2010, Four Star Fruit, a premier grower of table grapes in Delano, California, grew 20 percent — and its power consumption doubled.
An energy audit showed a trend of high peak charges, revealing an opportunity for demand control and automated demand response. Four Star seized that opportunity, and has realized ongoing benefits. The company continued to grow 10 to 20 percent annually from 2011 through 2014, but its electric bills, happily, didn’t keep pace.

Optimized Loads
  • 170,000 square feet of refrigerated storage
  • 722 kW tested load
Powerit Installed
  • Spara DM® (hardware and software)

Four Star Fruit reached its ROI on the Spara system in less than two months, thanks in part to utility incentive funding. “We achieved a 16 percent reduction in our bill in the first year, which was great and was more than we anticipated, ” Munguia says. “And in the four years since then, escalating energy costs haven’t hampered our growth. Spara has been instrumental in avoiding costly spikes on utility consumption.”
The company continued to grow at a rate of 10 to 20 percent annually from 2011 through 2014, and even with a combination of electricity price increases and DR payment decreases, Four Star’s electric bill has gone up only about 5 percent annually.
Munguia also loves the transparency Spara provides. He can see his operations in real time and fine-tune temperature controls. “As an engineer, the thing I really appreciate about the Powerit system is the kind of visibility I have into my operations. It’s a powerful tool with real-time advantages,” he says. “For example, with Spara I know instantaneously through alarms if a pump is not working or a fan is broken, and I can have it fixed right away. It used to be that people had to walk the system to visually check for these things.
“But the best part is that I know the temperature of each grape room — the quality-control experience has taken us into the
21st century. Spara has proved to be one of the best operational tools available.”