Western Growers Tech Center and Concentric Power Co-Host Forum to Discuss Energy Independence With California’s Growers
- by Kayla Webb
SALINAS, CA - Western Growers is doing all that it can to light the way for our industry via its Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT) arm. Its latest effort is co-hosting the first-ever Salinas Valley Energy Forum alongside Concentric Power, an energy technology company that partners with some of the country’s largest grower-shippers. The forum, which will take place on January 27, 2020, was designed to help growers and fresh food providers from California’s agricultural regions maintain productivity and improve profitability through energy independence.
“Energy is a huge part of farming. In fact, everything done after harvest requires power,” said Dennis Donohue, Director of the WGCIT. “Our members provide over half the nation's fresh fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, so it’s critically important we help them navigate the energy challenges currently facing the state.”
According to a press release, Western Growers co-created the forum following historic fire seasons that bankrupted California’s largest energy utility and led to widespread Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) last fall. Unreliable and unstable energy is a major disruption to the agriculture industry, and the cost of energy for ag companies can be unpredictable, having risen nearly 20 percent since the beginning of 2018 within the PG&E service territory. As a result, Western Growers and Concentric Power are working together to help forum attendees learn the following:
- What is happening across the state from an energy perspective
- Local power options and solutions
- How to execute energy projects at little to no upfront cost
- How to invest in sustainable infrastructure
- How Salinas Valley cities are improving and promoting economic development
“Technological advancements, business models, regulation changes, and the low cost of capital have made energy independence a viable option,” said Brian Curtis, Concentric Power’s Founder and CEO. “Many organizations simply don’t know that it can pencil out both economically and technically. With power shutoffs now happening year-round and utility rates continuing to rise, ag and other fresh food producers are finding that status quo is no longer an option.”
At the forum, a panel of experts representing energy developers, government agencies, and solution providers will present to forum attendees and help provide insights into how the California region’s agricultural industry can overcome the instability in energy availability, reliability, and pricing. Representatives will include Brian Curtis; Rick Sturtevant, State Energy Coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Norm Groot, Executive Director at the Monterey County Farm Bureau; Rene Mendez, City Manager for the City of Gonzales; and Gregg Morasca, Vice President of Strategic Customers at Schneider Electric. Moderator Matthew Willis, Vice President of Product and Business Development at Concentric Power, will lead the forum.
The Salinas Valley Energy Forum will be held at the Taylor Farms Curious Classroom on January 27, 2020, from 8:30-11:30 a.m.
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