Nighttime Ice-Makers to Save New York City Grocer Utility Bills

  • $5 million project stores energy when power demand ebbs
  • Consolidated Edison participates in Axiom Energy storage

The city that never sleeps expects to provide savings to consumers that make ice at night -- when electricity demand is low -- to cool dairy, meat and produce during the heat of the day.

As part of Consolidated Edison Inc.’s plan to forestall construction of a $1 billion substation in Brooklyn, Axiom Exergy Inc. was awarded a contract to build more than $5 million worth of ice-making energy storage for a couple dozen grocery stores, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The chillers take advantage of low power energy demand at night to cheaply freeze tanks of saltwater that can provide as much as 8 megawatt-hours of cooling supplies the next day, saving the grocer money on its utility bill and delaying new utility investments, said Amrit Robbins, president and co-founder of the Richmond, California-based startup.

“Con Ed is forecasting there will be blackouts in 2017 and 2018 during peak demand,” Robbins. “They can call on us to reduce demand during those peak hours to help.”

In New York City, the average spot price for next-day power averaged $34 a megawatt-hour over the past year, a 57 percent premium over the night-time average of $21.70 a megawatt-hour. That provides an arbitrage opportunity for anyone who can shift energy use to night hours, when demand and prices are lowest.

Axiom Exergy is negotiating with supermarket chains to join the pilot project, and plans to install more than half of the systems next year and the remainder in 2018, Robbins said.

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