Practical Winery
58-D Paul Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903-2054
phone:415/479-5819 · fax:415/492-9325
This article is from the September/October 2004 issue of Practical Winery & Vineyard Magazine. Order current or back issues here.


September/October 2004

BY Tina Vierra

California wineries can take advantage of substantial rebates from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) when they install or upgrade to energy-efficient operating equipment and facilities. Working to meet energy-efficiency goals set by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), PG&E is offering three rebate programs that are currently authorized and funded through the end of 2005.

Two of the programs — PG&E’s “Standard Performance Contract (SPC)” program and Express Efficiency, the small-customer equipment retrofit program — offer rebates for upgrading existing winery facilities and equipment to achieve improved energy efficiency. The third, Savings By Design, is a new construction design assistance and incentive program.

Potential rebate amount
Under the SPC and Express Efficiency programs, wineries receive incentives to upgrade tank and building insulation, lighting systems, refrigeration systems, and HVAC systems.

One-time rebates are calculated on the estimated number of kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy a winery will save in the first year of use of the new insulation or equipment retrofit. The winery can recoup up to 50% of the installation cost. The cash limit of rebates is $300,000 per PG&E electric meter (if a winery has more than one PG&E electric meter, it can take advantage of more than one rebate cap).

Savings By Design offers customized pre-construction design assistance and rebates for installation of new or expanding facilities and equipment meeting energy-efficiency guidelines. Rebates in this program can be for tank insulation, naturally cooled caves, daylighting, efficient lighting, HVAC, refrigeration, and process equipment. New construction rebates are limited to $75,000 per meter. Tank insulation rebates are limited to tanks smaller than 50,000 gallons.

A recent study of energy use in California wineries found that larger wineries typically already insulate tanks, and as a result, PG&E is targeting small wineries with its rebate appeals (see Survey sidebar). “PG&E is trying to encourage small wineries to take advantage of this program, since they are less likely to insulate without incentives,” says Chip Kime of ConeTech (Santa Rosa, CA), which offers PolarClad tank insulation from Australia.

Wineries are encouraged to contact their local PG&E representatives early in the new construction process to help them determine which installations, equipment design changes, and upgrades might be eligible.

A program of solar energy installation rebates, formerly offered by the California Energy Commission, has run out of funds and is currently being reviewed for renewed funding in the next state budget. PG&E stresses that solar energy is not part of the rebate programs in this report, but customers should check for rebates through the PG&E Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). SGIP is slated to continue through 2007, with additional funding expected annually beginning January 2005. See PWV, January/February 2004 for more information on solar energy installations.

Energy-saving goals
Jim Salomone, account manager in Sonoma County, reports several wineries are already taking advantage of the PG&E rebates. Korbel Champagne Cellars (Guerneville, CA) and Robert Mondavi Winery (Oakville, CA) installed PolarClad tank insulation; Rodney Strong and Chalk Hill wineries (Healdsburg, CA) upgraded to more efficient lighting; Clos du Bois (Geyserville, CA) is working on a compressed-air project with its presses, which will earn a rebate; and Sterling Vineyards (Calistoga, CA) underwent a cool-roof upgrade.

Tank insulation for energy efficiency
Cuvaison Winery installed new tanks with PolarClad tank insulation at their new Carneros facility (constructed for harvest 2004) which received a rebate of $19,000 through the SPC program. The winery also installed PolarClad on tanks at the Calistoga, CA winery (built in 1979), and were rebated through the SPC program.

Tory Britton Sims, Cuvaison CFO, worked with Robert Davis of PG&E to get rebates on several energy-efficient aspects of the winery’s new facility through Savings By Design. Electrical engineers installed self-extinguishing lighting systems, lighting controls, and daylighting, which earned rebate dollars. The winery’s new wastewater treatment system and compressed air system were inspected for potential efficiency improvements and rebates.

“Rebate programs in the past have meant a lot of paperwork for the winery for a small amount of rebate money, but these new rebates are substantial, and PG&E helped us earn the maximum,” Sims reports.

“Canandaigua insulated many of its tanks in the Central Valley at a cost of around $255,000,” reports Kime. “PG&E paid $125,000 of those costs.”

Lighting upgrade serves dual purpose
Chalk Hill Winery started work on a lighting upgrade in late 2003 and was able to obtain a 2004 rebate. Estate Manager Ron Jaramillo reports the winery replaced all ballasts in order to use more efficient bulbs and installed motion sensors to turn lights on and off according to whether a room is occupied. Jaramillo estimates Chalk Hill received up to 65% of its capital cost back in rebates and incentives.

“One of my favorite things about the new lighting,” Jaramillo says, “is that the new green-tip bulbs have less mercury and are a lot less taxing to the environment. On top of the energy savings, we’re saving several dollars per bulb by not having to send them to hazardous waste disposal.”

Compressed-air energy savings plan
Process Engineer Andy Woehl is working to improve the compressed-air supply to four tank presses at Clos du Bois Winery. According to PG&E, new compressed-air systems meeting efficiency guidelines are eligible for incentives.

Compressed air is a critical operational component in many types of winery equipment (including high-speed bottling lines), and it plays a crucial role during harvest for operation of bladder presses.

If compressed-air systems are not designed properly or functioning at maximum potential, bladder presses will not yield all of the potential juice from a load of grapes. Time is lost if press cycles have to be re-run for complete juice extraction. Additionally, pomace that is too wet when discharged from a press may overload pomace-removal equipment.

Compressed air is the third largest consumer of industrial electrical power in California. “When it came time to change our compressed-air system at Clos du Bois,” explains Woehl, “we looked for an effective solution both to increase crush efficiency and to reduce electrical energy use for harvest operations.

“To achieve this, we are making three major system changes for the 2004 harvest. First, we are increasing the diameter of the main compressed-air pipeline. The system was sized properly for year-round applications, but is too small for harvest loads. A system that is too small results in pressure losses or lost work from the system.

“Second, we have installed additional air-receiver capacity. Since the bladder presses require large volumes of air in short-time spurts, we can slowly make the volume we need to refill the receivers, and this reduced the size of the compressors we were operating.

“Third, we are purchasing a new variable-frequency drive air compressor and dryer. Using variable frequency technology will enable us to have a smart compressor that will increase or decrease the compressed air production (and energy required) to match the amount of compressed air we are actually using.”

Clos du Bois expects to see a 16% decrease in energy use for its compressed-air systems based on a test run with the bottling line before the system was upgraded, and Woehl believes, with the addition of a few more air receivers, the winery will see further energy savings.

Cool roof upgrade
Sterling Winery upgraded to cooler roofing during earthquake retrofitting in 2003, reports Ed Wheeler, the winery’s Director of Environmental Engineering and Safety.

Foam roofing went on the roofs of Cellars 1–4 and the fermentation room of Sterling’s hilltop winery. Roofing layers included plywood just above the ceiling, then a fire-barrier material layer, then the foam, and a hard acrylic coat to seal against weather damage. The spray-on foam has an estimated R19 insulation factor, depending on depth. Depths of foam ranged from two inches to four inches to allow for roof slope and water drainage.

“PG&E calculated our rebate at $0.15 per square foot, and the roofing covered about 30,000 square feet,” Wheeler reports. “The hardest part was getting through the paperwork, but we have a great PG&E representative, Jim Salomone, who was really helpful with that.”

Getting the word out
“We want to get the word out to wineries that these rebates are available,” Salomone stresses. “We’re working hard with the CPUC to solve the energy crisis without building more power plants.”

PG&E has information about the energy efficiency rebates.