New technology helps Amy’s Kitchen keep processing, reduce peak energy use by 44 percent.


And the award goes to . . . Powerit Solutions. This Seattle energy management systems provider recently won a Connectivity Week “Buildy Award” for implementing automated demand response technology (Auto-DR) at Amy’s Kitchen in Petaluma, Calif.
Using Powerit’s technology, officials say Amy’s reduced its electricity use 44 percent during a simulated Auto-DR event.

Powerit’s Spara EMS™ lets users such as Amy’s Kitchen take a series of strategic, predetermined steps to trim power demand during key times without negatively impacting productivity. Clients can save and even earn money by participating in demand response programs, which manage energy consumption dynamically through cooperation between power customers, the electric utility and the electric system’s partners. Participants receive payment for reducing energy consumption by a certain amount during demand response events initiated by the utility.
The utility, in turn, benefits by creating more capacity without having to build additional infrastructure or buy power on the open market. Auto-DR takes this one step further by automating the entire process – from the utility just notifying the participant to making the actual necessary consumption adjustments via a direct remote connection to the site.
“Our work with Amy’s shows the dramatic energy savings that can be achieved with smart grid devices that use finely tuned rules-based software,” said Bob Zak, Powerit general manager and president.

Speaking at the industry’s Connectivity Week event, Zak added, “We’re honored by this award and are proud of the solutions we provide to help industrial users large and small participate in demand response programs with their utilities. Controlling demand during peak times is vital to meeting the nation’s energy objectives and we look forward to providing more innovations to this emerging sector in the future.”

The Buildy Awards were presented at an industry gala as part of the Connectivity Week 2009 Conference and Expo at the Santa Clara (Calif.) Convention Center. Powerit won in the Industrial Connectivity Implementation category, which recognizes the developer or installer that uses smart device connectivity to best demonstrate energy efficiency in an industrial application.

The University of California, Berkeley Demand Response Research Center at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory nominated Powerit for successfully integrating Open Auto-DR communication infrastructure (Auto-DR that’s compliant with open standards) at Amy’s Kitchen. Powerit is a member of the Demand Response Research Center’s industry advisory group.

Officials say Amy’s hired Powerit after a hot day in 2008 shut down one of its two main breakers. Amy’s developed a time- and labor-intensive way to prevent the problem from happening again, but Powerit’s software solution addressed the issue far more efficiently and will allow Amy’s to generate revenue through the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Auto-DR program. The utility rebated 88 percent of the cost of Powerit’s smart energy management system.

All communication between the utility and Amy’s Kitchen during demand response events happens automatically between computers, without any manual intervention. Powerit’s Spara EMS receives PG&E’s signal that a reduction is needed, and responds by reducing power demand based on rules that can adjust usage from minute to minute in a way that maintains the company’s full production capacity.

Amy’s had previously signed up for the utility’s program, which provides substantial financial incentives, but according to the company’s director of engineering, Bert Pires, “We were never able to do anything because we didn’t have a way to measure information and we couldn’t make the necessary changes manually.”

Within six to nine months, Amy’s expects to see a return on its investment in the full energy management system.  And there was “absolutely no negative impact” on production during installation, Pires noted.

Powerit is one of PG&E’s technical coordinators for its Auto-DR program.  --  Powerit Solutions
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