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Cool technology reduces costs for food distributor

Turning up the cold, from left: Dylan Charles, freezer operator, Spencer Butterfield, COO of Butterfield and Vallis, and Mickindae Smith, freezer operator supervisor

Two years after legislators cut the import price on energy-saving green technology, food distributors Butterfield and Vallis is reaping the benefits.

“We were the ones who pushed for it to happen,” said Spencer Butterfield, the company’s chief operating officer, stressing that the savings were being passed on to reduce food costs.

The company’s array of thermal energy storage batteries address two major price concerns in the island: the soaring costs of both electricity and food.

Demand-side management systems, or DSM, use electricity during periods of low demand, such as during the course of the night, when power is cheaper.

“We can confirm that we are saving 40 per cent of our refrigeration costs, which represent 50 per cent of the facility’s power consumption,” Mr Butterfield told The Royal Gazette.

He was speaking at the company’s warehouse on Woodlands Road, Pembroke, where a giant freezer is kept extra cold with the help of banks of thermal batteries in the ceiling.

The company has invested heavily in new customer services, but the power savings help avoid passing on that cost to consumers, he said.

“We determined 2½ years ago to run with it — it is large scale, but we have the largest freezers on the Island.”

Butterfield and Vallis examined the use of DSM technology in comparable jurisdictions such as Puerto Rico, where the company examined how two companies had made use of it.

However, part of making the scheme economically feasible was being able to secure duty relief.

That tax break came in the form of the Customs Tariff Amendment (No.3) Act, approved by Parliament in December 2013, with Butterfield and Vallis being the biggest company to take DSM on board.

“We have chatted with our competitors and others that might have a need for it; we’d love to see others take it on,” Mr Butterfield said, estimating that the system would pay for itself in four years. With an affordable arctic chill keeping food fresh at the Woodlands Road premises, the company is keen to invest in a secondary facility “next winter”, he added.