Salinas Valley Energy Forum Attracts Record Audience
Posted on January 30, 2020 11:06 AM by elyons
Energy along the 101 corridor in the Salinas Valley is a pain point for anyone involved with produce. With questionable power quality and potentially ten years of PG&E power shut-offs ahead of us, unreliable energy poses a major disruption to businesses. Fortunately, the energy industry as a whole is going through a transformation, with significant benefits to the ag industry. WGCIT resident Concentric Power assembled an expert panel of energy developers, government agencies and solution providers to offer insight on energy solutions geared toward sparing businesses from the next outage and saving them money while meeting corporate sustainability goals. Panel members included:
- Brian Curtis, founder and CEO, Concentric Power
- Gregg Morasca, Vice President of Strategic Customers, Schneider Electric
- Norm Groot, Executive Director, Monterey County Farm Bureau
- Rene Mendez, City Manager, City of Gonzales
- Matt Willis, VP Project and Business Development, Concentric Power
Dennis Donohue, director of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, started the event by discussing the mission of the Center and introducing Concentric Power CEO, Brian Curtis, to the standing-room-only auditorium. Curtis was careful not to make the event a two-hour advertisement for Concentric Power; he kicked off the panel discussion with an overview of macro-trends in energy usage by Salinas Valley farmers, coolers, and processors. Curtis did a fabulous job of setting the stage with the challenges facing agriculture.
Norm Groot introduced himself and the Monterey County Farm Bureau, by noting the conversations he has been having with concerned local growers. Rene Mendez discussed the microgrid solutions that Gonzales is currently working on, and the reason that agricultural cities should be facilitating alternative energy solutions. The economies of many cities in California depend on family farms and keeping ag processors up and running. Gregg Morasca introduced the room of agricultural operations professionals to Schneider Electric and their partnerships with companies like Concentric Power globally. Schneider Electric is a French multinational Fortune Global 500 corporation specializing in electrical equipment. Morasca has a long-term relationship with Curtis, and sees a bright future in Concentric Power microgrid solutions.
Matt Willis moderated the question-and-answer portion of the panel discussion. Several processors expressed their frustration with the complexity of getting off the grid. The difficulty of evaluating energy alternatives seemed to be more of a hindrance than the cost and investment of the scalable solutions. As the panel concluded, news station KSBW showed up to interview Curtis about alternative energy, increasing efficiency, and reducing carbon emissions. Local news interest and the over-capacity attendance show how pertinent this topic is to Western Growers members.