Field Service Analysts are part of PECI services to supermarkets to find ways to improve refrigeration equipment efficiencies.

It is a familiar lament for those who work on supermarket refrigeration. There is a problem. The owner wants it fixed. He says, “It’s already costing a fortune to stay in business, and I can’t afford any down time with equipment. So just get it running as fast as you can, as cheap as you can.”

The technician can apply a quick fix, but that won’t deal with potential recurring problems - and the fact that the equipment may not be operating all that efficiently or even be all that up-to-date.

So even if  the patch-up is done, the tech or his contractor-owner boss needs to find a way to tell the store owner about better options and show the store owner how he can end up with equipment that has less down time and more long-term savings.

Enter a company called PECI which offers no-cost energy audits under its EnergySmart Grocer program. Through proprietary software program called GrocerSmart™, field energy analysts can identify and recommend refrigeration, lighting, and HVAC upgrades to lower the owner’s energy costs. “Our final energy report to retailers assists them on making the right decisions for energy upgrades in their store,” said Stephen Achilles associate director of PECI’s Pacific Northwest Grocery programs. Through these relationships, PECI’s services are paid by the utility.

“If you sell or install refrigeration, lighting or HVAC equipment, you can benefit from the EnergySmart Grocer program’s leads and financial incentives,” Achilles said.

The program works with most public and private utilities on the West Coast. It was noted that EnergySmart Grocer has been operating in the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. territory for almost a decade. Said Bill McNamara, director for the California Region of PECI, “We have developed strong contractor relationships for all types of work, and from these relationships we have provided thousands of leads and project assistance to contractors.”



If a store owner or decision maker agrees to the audit, PECI (which once stood for Portland Energy Conservation Inc., but no longer does so because of its geographic breadth) sends its own personnel to provide the energy audit. In effect, said Achilles, this becomes a third-party audit since PECI does not manufacture any of the equipment or products that eventually might be needed.

Some of the opportunities include:

• Design on new construction and remodels;

• Retrofits by upgrading lighting and refrigeration technologies;

• Commissioning of new and existing buildings.

Results could be anything from suggesting replacement of strip curtains to full-scale retrofits.


Among the contracting companies that uses PECI services is Source Refrigeration based in Anaheim, Calif., which has extensive involvement in supermarket refrigeration. Pete Cuneo, director of energy services, said Source first became involved with PECI in 2003. The first project, he said, was to install some 50 floating head controls in 10 Southern California supermarket chains.

Cuneo said PECI performs a site survey of a store, and then determines what rebates are available. He said in the case of those first 50 stores, “It ended up being zero cost to the customer.”

He noted PECI’s energy analysts “can model the existing store and an existing energy-efficient one.” It then becomes the contractor’s job to install the upgrades that will produce the projected savings. “If the contractor can’t deliver verifiable energy savings, then everybody loses. We make (the savings) happen,” said Cuneo.

Cuneo said PECI’s relationship with utilities and ability to track down incentives and rebates makes the company unique.


Achilles said grocers can look at the program for three reasons.

“First, this is an opportunity to grow the business. Energy is the second largest variable in a store. If a grocer doesn’t manage that, the store may not be essential.

“Second, the program helps connect contractors with manufacturers and new technologies to speed the process to bring products to market.

“Third, the industry is all about relationships and helping to get energy costs down.”

In regards to this, Achilles said EnergySmart Grocer holds training programs for contractors, which includes table top expos where manufacturers can show some of the newest products.

The conductors of the audits for PECI are called field energy analysts who typically come from the contractor or store owner sectors. “They know the parties involved,” said Achilles. “They understand the market and have the expertise to help grocers save energy and money.”

For more information, visit

Publication date: 02/07/2011