Grocery stores were thrust into the spotlight early during the COVID-19 pandemic, given their vital role in our community. Safeway supermarkets provide a critical service as essential workers continued to work during that time. The company successfully overhauled its lighting systems, improved the efficiency of its food refrigeration systems, and added electric vehicle (EV) chargers at select locations.
Providing energy efficiency services during the pandemic required flexibility between all partners. Tacoma Power worked with several contractors to develop an approach that permitted remote site visits and rebate processing. They reviewed energy savings, determined and issued incentive payments, and structured paperwork to ease processing, all done virtually.
In a typical grocery store, refrigeration and lighting represent a large percentage of the total consumption, making these systems the best targets for energy efficiency. Bryan Russo, a customer energy programs planner for Tacoma Power, helped Safeway implement planned energy-saving conversion strategies. Several stores in Pierce County upgraded their refrigeration systems, replacing older motors with modern energy-efficient models, and added on-demand controls to prevent fog formation on glass display cases. With Tacoma Power’s Custom Retrofit program, the company received $206,000 in energy efficiency incentives. Their total energy savings are 914,000 kWh per year, saving them about $50,000 on their electricity bill.
“Refrigeration systems are notable consumers of energy, especially as these systems operate all hours of the year,” Bryan noted. “Modern, efficient motors and improved humidity controls help reduce energy use and utility expense in a highly cost-effective and proven manner.”
Jeff Gascoyne from Tacoma Power worked closely with the installation contractor to provide guidance on energy-efficient lighting. Safeway used Tacoma Power’s Bright Rebates Commercial Lighting program to replace their existing fluorescent lighting system with LEDs. Changing to LEDs in their refrigerated cases reduces heat emissions, allowing the refrigeration units to work more efficiently.
Jeff noted of the partnership, “It is great that Safeway took advantage of our Bright Rebates Program over the years.” “By investing in new LED lighting, it helps keep their costs down and saves energy.”
The 38th Street location completed its first project phase and is currently working on the second phase. Both projects are estimated to produce 338,378 kWh in energy savings, with an estimated $38,601 to be paid in incentives.
“The new lighting makes the store brighter, and it’s been a positive shopping experience for our customers,” said Doug Greene, store director for 38th Street. “Safeway is committed to reducing energy usage, and we’re pleased to make a favorable impact on our local environment.”
Lastly, Safeway added electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at several store locations, another unique way the business commits to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Tacoma Power’s community EV charging program supported the project.
“We are proud to assist Safeway and other businesses in their journey to make EV charging more accessible to their customers,” said Katherine Rice, program manager for Tacoma Power’s Energy Research and Development team. “Including traditionally underserved areas, where some Safeway stores are located.”
The Safeway and Tacoma Power partnership on energy efficiency projects dates back many years. Safeway’s corporate commitment to environmental stewardship helps guide improvements in their business operations that reflect the values and concerns of customers and the communities they serve.