A certified organic farm known for its herbs, vegetables and petite edible microgreens, Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens, located in Easton, Conn., believes in conservation, composting and recycling as responsible business practices. Keeping in line with those principles, Gilbertie’s recognized that making energy upgrades was important, particularly with aging oil furnaces that were difficult to maintain and lighting that was inefficient and old.
United Illuminating, a subsidiary of AVANGRID Inc. (NYSE: AGR), identified financial incentives and opportunities through the Energize Connecticut initiative’s Small Business Energy Advantage program to make otherwise cost-prohibitive upgrades a reality for Gilbertie’s. Federal grant funding through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) was also leveraged. Between the two programs, incentive payments of $125,260 were provided to Gilbertie’s to help fund the energy efficient improvements.
Twelve oil-fired furnaces were replaced with natural gas furnaces to provide a clean, dependable and energy efficient heating solution to help keep greenhouse temperatures constant. Efficiency measures to update lighting not only improve employees’ ability to see details, they also help increase growth on the farm, which means more product for customers.
“These upgrades have saved us money but also helped increase productivity. We no longer have to worry about a failing greenhouse furnace quitting during the cold winter months and ruining crops. Employees who maintained those old furnaces are now available to work on other things,” said Sal Gilbertie, third generation proprietor of Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens. “Without Energize Connecticut programs, we would not have been able to afford this project.”
The updates are expected to save Gilbertie’s an estimated $7,207 in annual electricity bills, or about 41,184 kilowatt-hours, and annual natural gas savings of $7,797 or 7,088 Ccf. Additionally, by converting from oil to natural gas heat, annual fuel bills are expected to drop from $42,968 to $15,680 for an annual savings of $27,280.
“There are ample opportunities for agribusinesses in the state to achieve savings and sustainability through energy efficiency, whether addressing energy usage and costs associated with operations, looking to renovate or expand facilities or hoping to upgrade equipment,” said Dennis O’Connor, Small Business Program Administrator at UI.
Part of Gilbertie’s mission is to educate the public through lectures and classes on the importance of growing organically and being environmentally responsible. These energy efficient measures help the farm stay true to their mission.
“The experience and the people involved were pleasant and professional, and they all made an effort to understand our business needs,” added Gilbertie. “They worked around our busiest season in the spring, beginning the project in September to finish before the cold weather set in. The installation was done quickly, with minimal disruption to our workday.”
Interested UI customers can get started with a free energy audit through the Small Business Energy Advantage program by calling 877-WISE-USE and speaking with our team, who work with you to reach your goals.
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About AVANGRID: AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR) is a diversified energy and utility company with more than $31 billion in assets and operations in 27 U.S. states. The company owns regulated utilities and electricity generation assets through two primary lines of business: Avangrid Networks and Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid Networks comprises eight electric and natural gas utilities, serving approximately 3.2 million customers in New York and New England. Avangrid Renewables operates 6.5 gigawatts of electricity capacity, primarily through wind power, across the United States. AVANGRID employs approximately 7,000 people. Iberdrola S.A. (Madrid: IBE), a worldwide leader in the energy industry, owns 81.5% of the outstanding shares of AVANGRID common stock. For more information, visit www.avangrid.com.
About UI: The United Illuminating Company (UI), established in 1899, is engaged in the purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity and related services to approximately 333,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the greater New Haven and Bridgeport areas of Connecticut. UI is a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc. (NYSE: AGR). For more information, visit www.uinet.com.
About Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center: Gilbertie’s facility in Easton is the largest certified organic greenhouse operation in New England. They also have a retail operation in Westport with greenhouses and gift shop surrounded by theme gardens providing an experience for both the casual gardener and serious botanist. They offer annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs, statuary, tropical plants, fish, pottery, fall pumpkin picking and hayrides, Christmas trees, decorations and pond supplies and ornaments. Dedicated to community they provide free demonstrations, lectures and workshops as well.
About Energize Connecticut: Energize Connecticut helps you save money and use clean energy. It is an initiative of the State of Connecticut, the Connecticut Green Bank, Eversource, UI, SCG and CNG, with funding from a charge on customer energy bills. Information on energy-saving programs can be found at EnergizeCT.com or by calling 877.WISE.USE.
Media Contact: Michael A. West, Jr.