Oregon onion shipper ramps up energy efficiency efforts
Fresh Plaza, July 19, 2017
Newly formed Baker & Murakami Produce Company LLLP in Ontario, OR, has teamed up with Idaho Power to expand energy efficiency at the Treasure Valley onion supershed with upgrades in LED lighting and a new high capacity VFD air compressor to run the state-of-the-art packing line.
As incentive to these and other “green” measures being put into place by Baker & Murakami, Idaho Power presented the company’s principals Jerry and Steve Baker and Grant Kitamura, along with Baker & Murakami COO Cameron Skeen, with a check on July 17 for $32,417.57, the first in a series of planned payments aimed at helping the company save on its energy costs.
According to Skeen, “The incentive check is actually the first of three that we will be getting from Idaho Power.
”He explained that in addition to the lighting in the new finished product storage/shipping office portion of the facility, Baker & Murakami has also worked with Idaho Power in putting in a new high capacity variable frequency drive (VFD) air compressor to run the new packing line.“
The VFD capabilities will drastically reduce our energy consumption as the compressor will increase or decrease output based on demand throughout the day,” he said.
Skeen continued, “All of these projects align with our focus on long-term sustainability as we move forward into a new frontier in the onion industry.”
The upgrades will save more than $18,000 in annual energy costs while also helping reduce the company’s carbon emissions.“
A lot of focus has been put into efficiency and sustainability at all levels of this project,” Skeen said. “One of those areas was our consumption of energy, and this was a major step in the right direction.”
Upgrading lighting was one of the more obvious moves, he said, noting, “When looking at how we could be better stewards of our newly remodeled facility, we saw the potential in changing our current lighting system by upgrading to LED. First and foremost we saw that we could create a much better work environment for our employees due to the brightness and better visibility along with just a better overall ‘feel.’ We want our employees to be comfortable and enjoy their work environment, and this was a major step in the right direction.”
Also, the new lighting translates to a savings of 180,098 kWh per year and a financial savings of $18,009.80 annually.
“Maybe the most important number is the amount of carbon emissions that has been prevented by the kWh saved. Based on the U.S. average of 1.13 lbs. of carbon emissions per kWh, we reduced our carbon footprint by 101.755 tons annually. So knowing what we could do for employees and also seeing how much we could save and reduce our carbon footprint, this became a top priority for us to get done,” he said.
Skeen recognized the contributions from Idaho Power and said, “We want to thank Idaho Power for providing a great program to help us achieve our goals of being sustainable and environmentally responsible. I would like to give special thanks to Richard Simerly at Platt Electric who helped us through this process as well as the team at Indianhead Electric that did all of the installation in a very timely and professional fashion. All companies were excellent to work with.”