TONASKET – Local apple and pear growers are seeing their fruit stay fresher longer, thanks to major efficiency upgrades at the Blue Bird warehouse, which earned an $80,000 check for energy savings through the Okanogan County PUD.
Until last year, old refrigeration and scrubber equipment (some from 1959) was still being used, causing issues with inefficiency and difficulty to maintain or repair. When Blue Bird decommissioned the original engine room, they consolidate to a new engine room and have saved 349,555 kWh in a year – enough to power approximately 20 average homes. The PUD manages incentive programs through funding by the Bonneville Power Administration, a major source of its electricity.
“The success of this project is the result of the hard work and dedication of the refrigeration and maintenance team and the investments made by the executives at Blue Bird,” said Tony Simon of Energy Smart Industrial. “Projects like this are great because the fruit quality will be just as good if not better, but with much less energy consumed.”
Aside from the energy and money savings, Blue Bird Facility & Food Safety Director Larry Blakley said the new equipment is also safer, both for staff and the community. The upgraded controls and consolidation of ammonia compressors and carbon scrubbers have helped reduce workload and safety risks.
The controls also allow Blue Bird to cool fruit from the field faster, which allows for longer storage time. The longer the fruit stays fresh, the better it is for growers awaiting sales.
The PUD has multiple energy efficiency incentives for residential, commercial and other types of customers. Learn more on the PUD website, www.okanoganpud.org.
Caption: Blue Bird employees in their new engine room after major upgrades to their refrigeration and scrubber equipment. Left to right: Brandon Cobos, CFO; Brent Craig, refrigeration manager; Nick Fleisher, Tonasket warehouse manager; and Larry Blakley, facility & food safety director.