Utilities representatives and supermarket end-users recently met to develop solutions for incentivizing the use of natural refrigerants in supermarkets and convenience stores. More than 35 participants came together on Aug. 4, at the National Grid corporate offices in Waltham, Massachusetts, to make in-roads on developing and implementing natural refrigerant utility incentives.

The workshop was organized by the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to advancing natural refrigerants in retail food settings.

“Utility incentives for natural refrigerant equipment is one the most effective ways to advance these climate-friendly technologies, by making natural refrigerant options financially feasible for food retailers,” said John Laughead of Food Lion.

According to NASRC, despite the long-term savings and proven environmental benefits of natural refrigerants, their higher initial equipment cost remains the primary barrier to widespread adoption of these beneficial technologies. Utilities have an opportunity to speed the transition to these technologies by offering incentives for their installation and use, to help reduce demand on the grid and help utilities meet any carbon reduction goals.

“The NASRC workshop was a unique opportunity to learn from utilities and end-users that are first movers in this space,” said Michael Mills from Eversource, New England’s largest energy service provider. “Not only that, but the working session in the afternoon provided a vital forum to discuss the complex challenges and issues and to identify potential solutions for consideration.”

The working sessions focused on issues such as how to establish and validate baselines — and what that means for new systems — how to incorporate direct greenhouse gas savings into incentives, and how best to streamline the incentive application and payout process.

“The ideas generated in these working sessions will feed directly into the goals of our NASRC progress group focused on this exact topic,” said Liz Whiteley, NASRC executive director. Participation in that group is open to anyone from a NASRC member organization.

Emerson Climate Technologies sponsored the workshop, with planning and outreach support from Bitzer US and Hillphoenix.

“Companies like Emerson, Bitzer, and Hillphoenix are working hard to further the market for natural refrigerant equipment,” said Keilly Witman, owner of KW Refrigerant Management Strategy and workshop facilitator. “What’s really fantastic, though, is when companies share the data and modeling that utilities want to see, while at the same time recognizing that the conversation really needs to be between utility providers and their end-user customers.”

With a close to even split between utility and end-user participants, the workshop attendees included the event host National Grid, along with utilities Eversource, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Con Edison, Efficiency Vermont and representatives from Georgia Power. Retailer participants included Hannaford Bros., Food Lion, Shaw’s, Price Chopper, Whole Foods Market, Target, and Demoulas/Market Basket. For a complete attendee list, email liz.whiteley@nasrc.org.

The North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council is a membership-based, action-oriented 501(c)(3) nonprofit, committed to advancing natural refrigerants in the retail food sector. Natural refrigerants offer a host of environmental benefits. The mission of the NASRC is to bring together all stakeholders to make these technologies a reality throughout the North American market and shape a more sustainable future for retail food refrigeration. For more information, visit www.nasrc.org.

Publication date: 8/15/2016

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