New lights save energy, money for Price Chopper

Price Chopper estimates 299 LCD lights installed in December will reduce the energy bill at the ware

Each LED light quickly illuminated with the approach of a forklift navigating the towering rows of frozen supplies at Price Chopper’s frozen food distribution center.

The bluish diodes remained lit for about 30 seconds and then promptly went dark in the absence of motion. The lighting system seems like a novelty for the sprawling, 152,000-square-foot warehouse at first glance — one that didn’t seem to faze workers toiling in the sub-zero atmosphere.

But for the regional grocer’s accountants, the efficiency created by the LED lighting system means big savings. Price Chopper estimates the 299 lights installed in December will reduce the energy bill at the warehouse by roughly $64,000 per year over the high-intensity discharge lights used previously.

The lighting system cost about $249,000 and was helped by an $84,041 incentive provided by National Grid. In using the system, the grocer has realized a 72 percent drop in the energy cost to light the warehouse.

National Grid’s energy efficiency initiative provides incentives of up to 50 percent of the cost for qualified improvements. The company includes LED lighting for specific applications, including cold storage facilities and certain exterior lighting upgrades.

“This is an excellent application of our program,” said Nat Hancock, a commercial energy consultant with National Grid, during a tour of the facility Tuesday.

The system was installed by SmartWatt Energy, a Ballston Lake-based business that helped outfit a similar lighting scheme at the Stewart’s Shops ice cream plant in Saratoga Springs. The state-of-the-art controls for the system gives Price Chopper the ability to both monitor the energy consumption of each individual light and to operate them remotely via a Web-based platform.

“When lights were [accidentally] left on in the past, there are now systems in place to ensure that won’t happen any more,” said Benny Smith, Price Chopper’s vice president of facilities.

The lights also will have a much longer life than their predecessors, which lasted about 18,000 hours. The LED lights are expected to have nearly four times the lifespan.

In addition, the new lights operate much better in the cold environment, which ranges from freezing to about minus 5 degrees. The LED lights produce hardly any heat compared to the high-intensity discharge bulbs, meaning Price Chopper also saves a small amount on the cost to cool the facility. Likewise, the LED lights snap on almost immediately, unlike the previous lighting system.

“The other style of lights would take longer to light up,” said Bob Doyle, Price Chopper’s vice president for distribution. “These are literally turned on and off in an instant.”

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