SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Big Y Foods here is testing a new gas-powered engine for refrigeration systems to determine potential savings in electricity and maintenance.
The retailer installed a gas-powered rotary engine in a new store that opened here in November and has seen some reduced energy usage, store officials said.
"It's an alternative way to power our refrigeration," said Claire D'Amour, vice president of corporate affairs. "Our refrigeration experts are very happy with the test."
The engine, which powers the compressors of one refrigeration case, is from Rotary Power International, Wood Ridge, N.J. "It still needs some regular electric power, but because the natural gas kicks in at certain time periods we don't get strong [energy] demand surges, which is how your utility rate is determined," she said.
D'Amour said it is difficult to determine precise savings, as the test involved one refrigerated case. However, the gas-powered rotary engines "should reduce operating costs through the ability to purchase energy more competitively by choosing the best combination of natural gas and electricity," she said.
"The flexibility gained in tailored energy consumption should improve our bottom line all year long.
"In addition, the engine is smaller, runs cleaner and has fewer parts, so maintenance-wise it is less expensive to operate," D'Amour added.