Case Study: Thermal Energy Storage Saves California Winery Nearly $30K a Year

Thermal Energy Storage

Wilson Creek Winery in California’s Temecula Valley is best known for its award-winning Almond Champagne, yet the winery’s commitment to environmental agriculture and facilities management has led the winery to an equally innovative approach to energy management.

Temperature control is vital to the aging process of wines, and Wilson Creek’s facilities-including a 40,000-square-foot main building used for fermentation, tasting, retail, administration and special events-require cooling eight months of the year.

By 2010, Wilson Creek Winery President Bill Wilson had identified controlling energy costs as a major priority.

Wilson Creek’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor SunRize Mechanicals Inc. proposed a two-part solution to slash costs without reducing reliability or the steady temperature essential to wine production.

First, Wilson Creek would replace lower-efficiency (10-15 SEER AC) units with more efficient models and retrofit some existing split AC systems. Next, SunRize proposed installing a system of Ice Bear thermal energy storage units in tandem with the new, higher-efficiency air conditioning.

A major appeal of the Ice Energy proposal was the availability of a substantial rebate from Southern California Edison (SCE) that would provide 45 percent of the upfront costs for qualified energy efficiency investments. After researching Ice Energy’s history of reliability of more than 15 million hours of energy storage, Wilson decided to roll out a fleet of Ice Bears across the winery grounds and buildings.

“When we ran the numbers, investing in storage technology seemed like the logical thing to do,” Wilson said.

Based on current SCE rates, Wilson Creek is saving an average of up to $27,000 annually in electricity costs. Because the units run at off-peak rates, a rise in peak pricing only increases the winery’s savings. Between the utility rebate and energy annual savings, Wilson expects the high-efficiency AC and thermal storage tandem to pay for itself quickly.

Thermal Energy Storage

Smart Controllers Key to Efficiency

Billy Vevle, president of SunRize, said the storage unit project was completed in two weeks. The 12 Ice Bears installed on the winery’s rooftop and grounds work seamlessly with the facility’s air conditioning units, operating up to six hours when ambient temperatures reach 68 degrees.

“Other than configuring the controllers, the Ice Bear units are very straightforward installations that any licensed and certified HVAC contractor should be able to handle,” Vevle said.

The smart controllers are the brains of the operation. They centralize control of the units, with Wi-Fi built into them, which allows SunRize to remotely monitor performance of each unit.

Performance has been flawless, Wilson said.

“We haven’t had a single day of downtime, and as far as comfort level inside the building, visitors and employees can’t tell the difference between the cooling cycles,” Wilson said.

Thermal Energy Storage

How to Store Energy in Ice

The Ice Bears work with the natural environment to produce clean, green energy. At night, when temperatures drop and electric rates are lowest, the Ice Bears begin to freeze their 5-ton water supply into a solid block of ice. With daylight as temperatures rise, the Ice Bear controller signals the conventional AC unit’s compressor to turn off. The Ice Bears’ ice, created in the night, then begins to thaw, circulating cooled air through a special coil installed in the AC unit. This means only a small, 300-watt motor needs to run during the hottest hours when power demand and electric rates are highest. When temperatures drop, the Ice Bear turns the cooling back over to the AC unit. Later in the evening, the Ice Bear resumes the ice-making cycle using power while energy demand and rates are lowest.

By shifting the air conditioning cooling load from more expensive peak hours to low-cost night periods, Wilson Creek is saving an average of up to $27,000 annually in electricity costs based on current SCE rates.

“We certainly can’t complain about the results,” Wilson said. “We’re extremely happy we made the decision to reduce our peak air conditioning energy consumption based on SCE’s recent announcements of additional time-of-use rate increases.”

Thermal Energy Storage

Environmental Stewardship That Saves

Beyond the bottom line, Wilson says that introducing smart grid technology keeps with the winery’s commitment to environmental stewardship without affecting the thousands of visitors who tour the winery annually.

“We consider sustainable agricultural practices as best practices for our industry, so we look at utilizing energy more efficiently through sustainable technologies as a natural extension,” he said.

To the winery’s thousands of annual visitors, the Ice Bears may not be obvious, tucked as they are among the vines or on the rooftops across the 70-acre enterprise. Yet to Wilson, they are an essential element of an earth-friendly, cost-effective energy efficiency program that helps secure continued success of the family’s legacy of award-winning varietals.

First Round Winners of PowerBridgeNY Announced

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the first round of awards from PowerBridgeNY, a recently created proof-of-concept center established to move clean-energy ideas from the laboratory to become successful businesses in New York.

These awards continue to support the development of New York’s clean-tech economy to create jobs and businesses focused on emerging clean-energy technologies.

“New York is taking a leading role in supporting the development of clean-tech products that are environmentally friendly, reduce energy use and increase reliability of the state’s energy systems,” Cuomo said. “When the best and brightest clean-tech researchers in New York state have the opportunity to collaborate with smart, experienced experts in the private sector, the result can be a powerful force for economic development resulting in a cleaner, greener, more sustainable state for future generations.”

PowerBridgeNY was created by Columbia University and New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, leading a consortium of public research institutions throughout the state, and is partially funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The award winners are working on products with the potential to reduce wastewater treatment costs, increase energy efficiency of solar panels, reduce electricity outages, decrease the cost of fuel cells, absorb carbon dioxide from the environment and generate clean energy from railroad track vibrations, among others.

PowerBridgeNY’s award winners receive up to $150,000, mentoring and other business support to develop an innovative clean-tech product first conceived through research in New York.

NYSERDA provided seed money in January 2013 to Columbia, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering and High Tech Rochester to create proof-of-concept centers. The funding-$5 million for each of the three organizations-is for five years, after which the centers are expected to operate on their own. The center in Rochester, called Nexus-NY, is expected to release the names of its first funding award winners.

Businesses were judged on the products’ technical potential, the potential appeal to investors and how the scientists could benefit by taking part in this program.

The research teams that won the first round of PowerBridgeNY funding include:

Columbia University:

  • Early detection of problems in wastewater treatment microbial processes to reduce energy costs;
  • Turning carbon dioxide waste and electricity into fuels or chemicals to reduce reliance on fossil fuels;
  • New low-cost device to measure energy use during energy audits; and
  • Forecasting machine to improve grid reliability and boost efficiency.

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering:

  • Reducing electricity outages;
  • Wireless recharging of electric vehicles; and
  • Building a more efficient power transformer.

City University of New York:

  • Reducing dust on solar panels to increase energy efficiency; and
  • Improving energy efficiency of HVAC technology.

Cornell University:

  • Longer battery life; faster recharge time for new lithium oxide batteries; and
  • New material to absorb carbon dioxide emissions.

Brookhaven National Laboratory:

  • Reducing cost of fuel cells and electrolyzers.

University of Stony Brook

  • Generating clean energy from railroad track vibrations.

In addition to funding the proof-of-concept centers, NYSERDA also has invested in other clean energy entrepreneurship initiatives, including six clean-tech business incubators across the state; an Entrepreneur-in-Residence program that links experienced business mentors with clean-tech start-ups; and Green Capital Empire, a NYSERDA-sponsored initiative designed to bring early-stage funding to New York-based clean energy businesses.

Businesses were judged on the products’ technical potential, potential appeal to investors and how scientists could benefit.

ITT, Siemens Design System to Protect Power Grid From Earthquakes

ITT, Siemens Design System

ITT Corp.’s Control Technologies business is partnering with the Power Transmission Division of Siemens AG to engineer new seismic damping and isolation systems that use ITT’s Enidine brand technologies to help protect high-voltage transmission substations from earthquakes and other earth vibration.

The companies’ engineering teams have created and qualified custom seismic damping and isolation systems for high-voltage components such as live-tank circuit breakers and fixed series capacitors (FSCs) that reduce stress by up to 50 to 80 percent.

Transmission substations are critical for moving electricity long distances. If a seismic event damages these substations, wide-ranging outages can occur.

“The major causes of outages during past earthquakes were the catastrophic failures of circuit breakers, transformer bushings and disconnect switches at the substations,” according to the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center.

ITT has a range of energy-absorption devices for infrastructure applications, said Munish Nanda, president of ITT’s Control Technologies business.

“We specialize in working with key partners such as Siemens to combine our technologies in ways that create unique and optimal solutions,” Nanda said. “Through applying our capabilities, we help protect our customers’ systems, buildings and structures and help to solve their most difficult challenges.”

The seismic damping and isolation systems include an interconnected and finely tuned set of viscous dampers and wire rope isolators to isolate the high-voltage components’ base from shock and vibration coming from the earth. The new seismic damping and isolation systems created by ITT and Siemens can be customized for each project anywhere seismic activity is of concern. The partners’ work focuses on eliminating or greatly reducing the motion that travels from the earth through the base that supports the high-voltage components and to the components themselves.

The high-voltage components ITT and Siemens are helping protect range in weight from 5 tons for a circuit breaker to 50 tons for an FSC. Because of differing heights (some as high as 6 meters) each component creates varying centers of gravity for each base and its seismic damping and isolation system to support.

April 2014 Transmission Project Review


by Aaron Moline, PennWell MAPSearch

In April, companies sponsoring 10 large transmission projects with an estimated combined total cost of $5.2 billion announced significant changes, including Public Service Enterprise Group’s Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), which energized a portion (Roseland to Hopatcong) of its 145-mile, 500-kV Susquehanna Roseland Project.

BC Hydro announced a delay in its original May 31 in-service date of its 214-mile, 287-kV project in British Columbia to an unspecified date.

Furthermore, portions of the Great River Energy and Xcel Energy-sponsored Brookings County to Hampton project were energized, with completion of the 250-mile, 345-kV project slated for early 2015.

In addition, Minnesota Power submitted a preferred route application for a presidential permit for the 220-mile, 500-kV project being developed with Manitoba Hydro. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) approved the Limestone to Zenith route for CenterPoint Energy’s 130-mile, 345-kV double circuit. Also, the Houston Region Import Capacity Project is scheduled to be online in mid-2018.

In other news, American Transmission Co. (ATC) increased the cost estimate for its Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project from the range of $514 million to $552 million to $540 million to $580 million. In addition, Basin Electric’s 197-mile, 345-kV double-circuit Antelope Valley to Neset Project was approved by North Dakota state regulators.

Also making news was Dominion’s 45-mile, 235-kV Dooms to Bremo Rebuild Project, which received extension for construction and in-service date by approximately one year. ATCO Electric’s Engstrom to Kinosis 144-kV project was approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission while Dominion’s 13.8-mile Loudoun to Pleasant View 500-kV Rebuild was approved by Virginia state regulators.

Two projects with a combined estimated total cost of $471 million were energized in April. The largest was PSEG’s Burlington to CamdenProject. The 230-kV underground and aboveground 37-mile project came online in late April and was estimated to cost $381 million. Pacific Gas & Electric’s 42-mile, 115-kV Palermo to East Nicolaus Rebuild was energized April 14 at an estimated cost of $90 million.

In addition, five new projects were announced in April, including FirstEnergy’s Mohican-Longview Rebuild, which involves 15 miles of 69 kV and is scheduled for operation next December. Also, Potomac Electric announced plans for its $40 million Little Falls Parkway to Van Ness project in Maryland and the District of Columbia. The construction will involve four new underground 138-kV circuits, and the project is expected online in mid-2017.

Furthermore, Tri-State Generation and Transmission announced its 72-mile, 230-kV project between Burlington and Wray, Colorado. The new project will relieve congestion, improve reliability and allow for more renewable energy in the area. In addition, Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative’s 138-kV, 12-mile Gillett to Nopal project was announced last month and is expected online in March 2016. Also announced in April was National Grid USA’s Clay to GE 14 Reconductoring Project, which involves two 115-kV circuits and is scheduled for completion in mid-2017.

Aaron Moline is a research analyst for PennWell MAPSearch. Prior to joining PennWell, he worked for Constellation New Energy and Consumer Energy Alliance. He is a graduate of the joint MS in Energy Management program from Bodàƒ¸ University (Norway) and MGIMO (Russia). Reach him at

Entergy Research: Gulf Coast Infrastructure at Mercy of Big Storms

Watermarks on a New Orleans house show flood levels left after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Watermarks on a New Orleans house show flood levels left after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

At a recent summit in New York’s financial district, the news was pay now or pay much more later. Speakers either showed scientific evidence of potential disasters because of sea level rise or the enormous costs brought about by the most costly storms: Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

“We are well past the point of excusing our coastal fate on unintended consequences,” said Val Marmillion, managing director of the America’s Wetland Foundation (AWF).

He warned of research findings from a study conducted with Entergy Corp. by SwissRE.

“We found that Gulf Coast states would be hard pressed to keep up with the loss of critical infrastructure due to long-lasting, larger-footprint storms similar to Sandy and Isaac,” Marmillion said.

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season arrives on the heels of a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists and recent research by federal agencies, universities and research institutions that predict sea level rise will cause catastrophic events and that either adaption or retreat from large population centers is predictable.

Bill Golden of the National Institute for Coastal and Harbor Infrastructure hosted the New York summit.

“Large coastal communities need to take Sandy as a warning call, unfortunately coming too late for those who lost their lives and property,” Golden said.

His remarks came amid calls for funding adaptation measures leading to resiliency and for businesses and residents alike to work in communities to abate the risk of storms to come.

“Sandy was not an apparition but the real deal,” Golden said. “Knowing what we face, we must cobble together bipartisan leadership nationwide to secure our coastal resources and cities or every American will pay the price. We are working with vulnerable communities and NGOs along the Gulf Coast and in other coastal areas that have experienced coastal flooding disasters, but that is just a baby step to what is needed.”

In New York, Florida, Texas and Louisiana, loss of critical wetlands and ecosystems including barrier islands that buffer the impacts of storms is a serious problem. Conflicting or outdated federal policies often make coastal restoration and protection projects difficult to achieve in a timely and cost-effective manner. Storm surge and velocity are blunted by a healthy ecosystem, wetlands and back bays, and their sustainability is essential to storm protection.

Sidney Coffee, senior advisor to AWF, identified vulnerable cities.

“Our work to ensure coastal resiliency took us from the Gulf Coast to Vietnam and the Mekong Delta region where we convened World Delta Dialogues II,” Coffee said. “Similar to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), New Orleans and Houston are two large cities in the target zone, as our Gulf region experiences some of the strongest rates of sea level rise. This can mean only one thing: It is not a matter of if, but when Gulf cities will have another storm-related disaster.”

Already in low-lying regions of the Gulf, wetlands are being lost at the equivalent of a football field an hour to coastal erosion and subsidence in coastal Louisiana, Coffee said.

“When you see water over the roads and names removed from maps because the spot is under water, the obvious could not be clearer,” Coffee said.

Louisiana could be the poster child for sea level rise. Combined with the impacts of subsidence and the leveeing of the Mississippi River, each new hurricane season brings greater urgency for coastal restoration efforts, said King Milling, AWF chair.

“Whether or not this hurricane season will have Louisiana in its sites is impossible to know, but one thing is certain: Never has the need to restore Louisiana’s coast been more critical,” Milling said. “To do what is necessary will take an incredible amount of cooperation at all levels of government, working closely with coastal communities, NGOs and the private sector.

“This is on us. Our generation must accomplish this if the future is to hold any promise of economic, cultural and environmental viability.”

According to the latest statewide poll commissioned by the AWF, 74 percent of registered voters consider saving Louisiana’s coast the most important issue of their lifetime. The poll also revealed that 97 percent of statewide voters feel a unified effort of government, industry, education and nonprofits is the best hope for coastal restoration and protection. A recent poll of Texas voters by AWF confirmed that many Texans feel anxious about “the big one.” Eighty-three percent of Texans feel that more should be done to prepare for natural disasters, and a majority of Texans worry about evacuation and emergency response. Ninety-five percent of Texas voters found it important to invest in the coast to protect Texas ports, inland waterways and other shipping infrastructure, and 86 percent agreed that Texas’ booming economy depends on a healthy coastal environment.

EYE ON the world

Prysmian wins contract for Ausgrid power grid upgrades in Sydney


Prysmian Group, a leader in the energy and telecom cable systems industry, has been awarded a new contract worth some à¢â€š¬30 million (AU$44 million) for 132-kV underground high-voltage cables for the North Shore cable upgrade project by Ausgrid, a state-owned utility of New South Wales, Australia, managing distribution and transmission assets.

The award comes on the back of a separate smaller related contract (Engadine) awarded in September worth some à¢â€š¬5 million (AU$8 million).

These projects form part of Ausgrid’s network plans wherein cables and equipment installed some 40 years ago are being replaced. The areas are the Willoughby-Lindfield-Castle Cove area on Sydney’s North Shore and the Engadine area just south of Sydney. The contracts comprise design, manufacture, supply, civil works, installation and test of 132-kV XLPE underground cables for both projects.

Production will involve multiple Prysmian locations: China will supply some 105 kilometers in total of 132-kV cable; China and the Netherlands will supply joints and outdoor terminations; and Prysmian Australia’s Liverpool and Dee Why plants will supply bonding and fiber-optic communications cables, respectively. The Engadine project is in the installation phase with completion scheduled for June, after which works on the North Shore cable upgrade project will begin.

Australia represents a major market for the group, with a number of projects ongoing and already accomplished. These include Basslink, the Victoria-Tasmania submarine HVDC interconnector, the NBN project for the supply of fiber-optic cables for the development of the new National Broadband Network, the Pluto, Gorgon, Wheatstone, Australia Pacific and Queensland Curtis LNG projects for the supply of power cables for the production of liquefied natural gas, among many others.

Skipping Stone opens Tokyo office

Skipping Stone

Skipping Stone recently announced the opening of its Tokyo office and the addition of Sumitaka Matsumoto, who will head Japanese market development activities for Skipping Stone.

Matsumoto is coordinating Japan’s OpenADR Alliance activities and has been engaged in various energy-related projects for three years.

Skipping Stone has assisted clients in navigating energy market changes, capitalizing on growth opportunities and solving business problems in some 20 countries around the world for nearly two decades, including the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) Demand Side Management Programme that addresses wholesale electricity market issues in 12 countries including the development of demand response programs.

Skipping Stone has been working with TEPCO and other Japanese firms through relationships developed through the Peak Load Management Association (PLMA) and elsewhere.

The company’s model and success derives from exclusively using energy industry veterans on all its client engagements.

“With Japan’s planned opening of its retail markets, demand response initiatives and pending wholesale market, the timing is excellent for Skipping Stone to provide its expertise developed from years of experience working with a variety of clients through U.S. and other countries’ deregulation activities,” said Peter Weigand, Skipping Stone CEO. “Our ability to provide Japanese energy market participants with strategy development, planning, market assessments, training and provide knowledge on lessons learned in the U.S. will hopefully be of value as Japan reshapes its energy market.”

Japan, Matsumoto said, has been studying the U.S. energy markets, and others.

“I believe there will be many opportunities for Skipping Stone to provide a variety of Japanese energy companies the benefit of its deep working knowledge of U.S. markets and lessons learned across its extensive client base. I’m excited to be able to bring such expertise to Japan.”

CAMEG Algeria orders à¢â€š¬4 million of transformers from CG

CAMEG Algeria

Avantha Group Co. CG has bagged an order from CAMEG (Comptoir Algàƒ©rien du Matàƒ©riel Electrique et Gazier) for the supply and installation of 60-kV instrument transformers at numerous substations across Algeria.

CG will provide indigenously built high-voltage (HV) equipment worth à¢â€š¬4 million, which includes 800×60 kV current transformers, 800×60 kV capacitive voltage transformers and 250×60 kV inductive voltage transformers. The project commenced in April and will be completed by October 2015. CG’s manufacturing facilities in Nashik and Aurangabad, India, will be a part of the project that involves CG’s delivering equipment in Algiers, Oran, Skikda, DjenDjen and Mostaganem. CG’s HV substations will be dispatched across Algeria.

CAMEG is a subsidiary of Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonelgaz in charge of electricity and natural gas distribution in the country. Sonelgaz is investing heavily to expand and upgrade Algeria’s power generation and distribution network. CG’s high-end transformers will play a vital role in improving the reliability of the Algerian energy infrastructure.

CG has developed in-depth understanding of the power grid network in Algeria and has highlighted key areas that need efficient 60- and 220-kV HV equipment. The demand is further heightened by ongoing upgrades to Algeria’s medium-voltage network (from 10-kV to 30-kV), which will involve erection of many substations.

CG also has established a new office in Alger, Algeria, to oversee and provide end-to-end support for the ongoing project.

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