"Energy Efficiency is at the heart of energy affordability." Tony Earley, Chairman, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation

News

Saving energy pays off for Pacific Ethanol

Originally published in Recordnet.com

STOCKTON — Pacific Ethanol Inc. on Wednesday received more than $470,000 from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for energy-saving improvements installed at its Stockton ethanol plant.

Those improvements include a system allowing electric motors, which power pumps on the plant’s fermenting tanks, to run at variable speeds depending on the load.

Pacific Ethanol also installed a wet milling system, called a Cellunator, that is much more efficient at pulverizing the corn feedstock. It both reduces power consumption and improves ethanol yields by 2 percent, which can be a critical advantage in a competitive commodity market, officials said.

“You’re doing more action, more work with the older grinders,” said Patrick McKenzie, Pacific Ethanol’s engineering director.

Theresa English, who works with PG&E’s commercial customers, advising them on energy efficiency and available incentive programs, said Wednesday’s award came out of her talking to McKenzie and other Pacific Ethanol employees about their plant processes.

“This was just one of the projects that came from that conversation,” she said.

Altogether, the Sacramento-based ethanol producer has earned more than $1 million in utility rebates and incentives for energy savings and there is more to come.

“We have a slew of other projects to get into the queue for this year,” English said.

Neil Koehler said the state’s incentive program, along with its low-carbon fuels standard, helps prove Pacific Ethanol’s business model of having production plants on the West Coast, as opposed to the Midwest, where most U.S. ethanol production is found.

Said Koehler: “It is the kind of program that takes a little of the sting out of doing business in California.”