(Camarillo, Ca) Houweling’s Tomatoes and SoCalGas have announced the installation of a new greenhouse thermal curtain, or system designed to reduce heat loss at night, functioning as a thermal barrier between the plants and the roof of the greenhouse. The new eco-friendly technology is estimated to save the Camarillo based grower more than 225,000 therms per year, the equivalent of removing more than 250 cars from California roads.
The system also works to reduce the volume of air that requires heating inside the greenhouse, and will provide the Houweling’s with approximately $80,000 in annual energy cost savings.
The new greenhouse energy efficiency upgrade was purchased in part with a $176,000 rebate check through SoCalGas’ Energy Efficiency Rebates for Businesses (EERB) program. To date, the utility has supported Houweling’s Tomatoes energy efficiency efforts with more than $725,000 in rebate funding for energy- and cost-saving technologies.
“SoCalGas’ energy efficiency rebate programs have been instrumental to the success of our business,” said Casey Houweling, owner and chairman of Houweling’s Tomatoes. “SoCalGas has been a dedicated partner to Houweling’s, not only in helping us move forward with projects we otherwise may not have been able to, but in helping us create the most efficient greenhouse operation in the country.”
Los Angeles based SoCalGas is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States servicing 21.7 million customers across 22,000 square miles of Central and Southern California. SoCalGas offers more than 90 energy efficiency programs that deliver close to $161 million in annual cost savings directly to its customers.
“Energy efficiency innovations, like these thermal curtains, help our customers save on energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change,” said Rasha Prince, director of commercial and industrial services at SoCalGas. “Houweling’s is a true leader in sustainability and partnerships like this can go a long way toward achieving California’s climate goals, while supporting great industries and good jobs across the state.”
Through SoCalGas’ EERB program, commercial, industrial, and agricultural customers of the utility can apply for energy efficiency rebates on qualifying energy-efficient, natural gas-fired equipment and improvements for the business, like commercial grade dishwashers, ovens, clothes washers, space-heating and other boilers, water heaters, steam traps, and other energy-saving equipment, that help offset a portion of the cost up t0 $1 million per customer, per year.
SoCalGas has been a long-time energy efficiency partner of Houweling’s Tomatoes, working together on many projects. In 2011, the utility helped the greenhouse leader fund the installation of the first-ever cogeneration power system in the United States that uses combined heat and power technology to capture traditionally wasted CO2, heat, and water for use within the greenhouse, while large natural gas-powered engines produce enough electricity to power the full operation and 8,800 local homes. In total, the new 13.2-megawatt system saves Houweling’s over 14,000 gallons of water every day, and has diverted more than 21,000 tons of CO2 emissions – the equivalent of taking 4,000 cars off the road – by converting it into fertilizer.
Since 1990, SoCalGas’ energy efficiency and rebate programs have reduced emissions equal to taking almost 700,000 cars off the road and have saved SoCalGas customers more than $670 million in utility bill costs. Moreover, because of energy efficiency measures and new innovative technology, business and homes account for only about 7.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions statewide, according to the California Air Resources Board.
The California based utility is working to increase the production and use of renewable natural gas, or biogas, which turns methane emissions into a source of clean energy to fuel homes and businesses. Decarbonizing natural gas pipelines with renewable natural gas will help California obtain deep greenhouse gas reductions at the lowest overall cost while preserving energy choice for residents and businesses alike.