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Walnut Hill Farm

Pork Processor Upgrades Refrigeration System and Uses Energy Savings to Help Expand its Business

With the incentives it received as part of the Save on Energy Retrofit Program, Walnut Hill Farm – a pork processor in Gads Hill, Ontario – reduced electricity costs by 40% through energy-efficiency upgrades to its refrigeration systems. The annual electricity cost savings have helped to pay for the expansion of its business from $750,000 to $1.3 million.
 
“The electrical savings we gained by investing in more energy-efficient equipment will be used to pay for the additional electricity we need to expand the business,” said John Koch, who, with his wife Julieanne, owns and operates the Perth County business. “Electricity bills will be about the same as before, but we’ve added 40% more refrigeration. We’ll be paying the same amount, but getting more bang for our buck.”  
 
BACKGROUND
Walnut Hill Farm produces a wide range of specialized pork products for its own customers, as well as for Perth Pork Products.
 
To meet growing customer demand for more specialty pork products, Walnut Hill Farm increased the number of its refrigeration rooms to six from ten.  
 
REFRIGERATION UPGRADES
The electricity savings came from a new high-efficiency refrigeration system that Walnut Hill added in 2012, which added more efficient compressors, evaporators, and insulated panels throughout the facility.
 
“The old refrigeration system, while effective in controlling and maintaining proper cooling, was two to three generations behind the current technology and inefficient,” Mr. Koch said. “It was costly to operate. Electricity is one of the farm’s highest fixed costs. Anywhere you can save on hydro is a plus,” he said.
 
The system used seven separate compressors (158,000 Btu/h) to provide cooling to refrigeration rooms throughout the facility. The older compressors were replaced by three high-efficiency compressors (150,000 Btu/h) that were linked together and controlled by temperature monitors in each refrigeration room. By installing polyurethane-insulated panels throughout the facility, cooling levels were  maintained and the compressors were not used as frequently. Additional energy was also saved by installing more efficient evaporation fans.   
 
One of the electricity-saving measures that Walnut Hill now uses is capturing the heat generated by its compressors to heat water for cleaning and washing. Previously, Mr. Koch spent up to $1,000 a month on propane for heating. “Our propane costs have dropped over 70%,” he said. “In the meat industry, it’s not what you make but what you save.”  
 
SEEING THE SAVINGS
With the retrofit, energy usage is estimated to fall to 61,000 kWh from 103,000 kWh for the original six refrigeration rooms, a savings of 42,000 kWh annually.
 
Walnut Hill Farm’s investment in the new refrigeration system was about $175,000. The business had also received a Save on Energy Retrofit Program incentive of $5,600 delivered through their local hydro company.
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