QUINCY, Mass. — Stop & Shop here is participating in a demand-response program that reduces its energy usage at 415 stores during times of peak energy demand such as the summer months.
Under the voluntary program, managed by Enernoc, Boston, “nonessential lighting” over the sales floor is turned off during daylight hours to help prevent brownouts or blackouts in neighboring communities, said Paul Grenier, manager of energy, budgeting and procurement for Stop & Shop. “We turn off our lights so our customers can keep theirs on. It has worked well.”
All 360-plus Stop & Shop stores are involved, as well as some at sister Ahold division Giant Food, Landover, Md.
Grenier said there are two levels to the Enernoc program. One is an emergency program, designed to prevent blackouts, in which energy is cut from three to six hours. There were two such events in the New England stores last summer, but none so far this year.
The other is a year-round reserves pilot program, aimed at averting brownouts, in which reductions last for one to two hours; these are more frequent, occurring up to three times per week in the summer. Last month, he said, there were four reserves pilot energy reductions at 117 stores, each lasting about an hour.
The energy reductions are specified by independent system operator (ISO) units that monitor consumption and demand throughout the Stop & Shop and Giant Food operating areas. Stop & Shop reduces consumption by about 100 kilowatts per store per event, and has saved 240,546 kilowatt-hours of electricity since the program began in 2005, said Grenier.
Enernoc works with several other food retailers nationally in a similar program, including Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., and Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas. Other organizations involved in Enernoc energy initiatives include big-box retailers, universities, government buildings and water treatment plants.
In addition to lighting, Stop & Shop targets some of the “anti-sweat” heating elements on its refrigerated case doors for energy reduction. The chain is looking into rollbacks of HVAC usage as well. “We're testing in a couple of stores whether we can turn off the air conditioning for a certain time frame without affecting the comfort of shoppers,” said Grenier.
During lighting reductions, daytime lighting over the sales floor is cut by 50%, Grenier said, noting that the store gets “a little darker.” Some newer Stop & Shop stores employ skylights, offsetting the need to use electricity.
Stop & Shop is given alerts about an impending energy rollback anywhere from an hour to 15 minutes in advance from Enernoc, which remotely controls lighting via equipment it installs at stores.
“We post signs at the front door [about the lighting reduction] and advise shoppers to ask the store manager if they have questions,” said Grenier. “We have had positive feedback from shoppers since we are helping to keep their lights on.”
Stop & Shop receives incentive payments from Enernoc for participating in the program. Grenier declined to disclose the amount the chain receives, but according to Sarah McAuley, communications manager for Enernoc, payments to supermarkets can range from “a few thousand dollars per year to upwards of $100,000.”
Food retailers do not pay for the equipment that Enernoc installs at stores to control energy usage.