Instead, ShopRite chose to partner with Unison Energy, which installs, owns, and operates microgrids that offer both day-one cost savings and decades of energy resiliency. Unison designs its systems to suit each store’s unique energy needs and take advantage of any local utility incentives. So far, Unison has installed nine combined heat and power microgrid systems for ShopRite stores in Long Island and New Jersey. These systems are comprised of natural gas engines that provide power 24/7, with many using cogeneration technology to capture waste heat, generate hot and chilled water, and increase the total system efficiency.
ShopRite’s decision has already paid off. In summer 2019, ShopRite stores were hit with 19 separate island mode events, lasting from two hours to over eight days at one store located on a particularly unstable utility feeder. During these events, the stores seamlessly transitioned into island mode when the main utility breakers opened. Because Unison’s microgrids receive natural gas even when the grid is down, the systems continued to operate during even the longest outages. The ShopRite stores were able to serve the community and sell much-needed supplies to their customers without any interruption.
Microgrids have also been a cost-effective choice for ShopRite stores. The microgrids provide savings versus the utility during normal operations. However, the real savings come during an outage, as stores no longer have to discard perishables if grid outages extend past a few hours. Additional savings can result from reduced insurance premiums and fewer equipment replacements for electrical components damaged by power spikes.
These savings are significant, but ShopRite store owners agree on the biggest advantage. Melissa Buonadonna, a ShopRite owner-operator in Bay Shore, NY, said: “It’s nice to know that you can work your day, go home, and if there’s a storm, you have peace of mind — for our associates, for our product, for the customers who are coming in and shopping. It’s a major relief.”