31 July 2012 – Hundreds of independent stores and supermarkets in the Metcash group have signed up for an energy conservation scheme to cut their power bills by up to 20 per cent annually.

The grocery and liquor wholesale distributor and marketer has begun rolling out its sustainability program after actively recruiting participants at road shows in recent months.

Metcash sustainability manager Louise Rhodes created the program in 2009. She said it had since been finely tuned since then to give it a face to face element.

It has also been extended to provide initiatives to cut stores’ water consumption and carbon footprints.

“The new services come at a time when electricity, water and waste costs are rising dramatically,” she said.

Plans are afoot to enlarge the program further but details are still under wraps until finalised.
Metcash is already actively involved in the development of carbon emission inventory, energy performance contracts and a national sustainability strategy.

Two hundred of the country’s 1400 Supa IGA and IGA supermarkets have signed up for the program to date, half of them in Queensland.

Rhodes says interest has also been strong from other owner/operators in the Metcash group.
These included 450 Mitre 10/Tru Value stores, 2300 liquor clients at Cellarbrations, Bottle O, Thirsty Camel and independent pubs and hotels, plus 425 Lucky 7 convenience stores.

Rhodes said the company had focused first on IGA supermarkets because of their high use of refrigeration, airconditioning and lighting.

Each participant will pay for an energy audit, design, installation of energy saving devices and ongoing monitoring.

Operators can also receive sustainable support for their store design and layout to optimise energy efficiency.

“The big supermarket chains change their store designs every seven years or so but independents can take up to 25 years to change theirs,” said Rhodes.

Metcash plans to optimise at least 100 stores a year for energy efficiency under the program using national energy management firm SEDAC for the implementation.

Using Neal Morgan’s Supa IGA at Meadow Heights in Victoria as a test pilot SEDAC managed to cut power use by 16 per cent over a four week period this year.

This equates to $26,540 in savings a year from an investment of $72,000 for that store.
SEDAC’s national business development manager, Dave Walsh, said the firm took a holistic approach to reducing electricity consumption over the pilot period.

Refrigeration, heating, ventilation, airconditioning and lighting comprised the majority of the store’s power so getting the right configuration was essential to optimise base load consumption and technology controls, he said.

Airconditioning and refrigeration and voltage use were all tuned, lighting controls were installed and night blinds were added.

Morgan said he would be introducing the scheme to his other stores across the state.
Rhodes said Metcash offered to arrange funding to store participants because it thought cost might be a barrier but few had taken this option, preferring to use their own cashflows.

“Refrigeration and lighting are the main areas of energy consumption in a supermarket and there is new technology and some fundamental initiatives that can be undertaken to control this cost centre,” she said.

These included changing to “low temperature” Co2 refrigeration, night timers, installing doors, domes and night blinds on open fridges and freezers, double glazing, LED lighting and smart controllers.

“The payback period is within five years in most cases,” she said.

Other initiatives encouraged through16 efficiency strategies offered by Metcash included installing solar panels and water tanks, efficient taps and appliances, composting food waste on or off site, re-cycling plastic materials and sending excess packaging back to suppliers.