Sierra-Cascade Nursery Success Story

CA_Sierra-Cascade_Nursery_2015-07-29_16_325x259.jpgSierra-Cascade Nursery improved lighting at its Tulelake location with help from Pacific Power’s cash-back incentives. Pacific Power regional business manager Todd Andres (left) visited John Wells, Sierra-Cascade’s vice president of operations.

Fall harvest keeps 500 workers busy at Sierra-Cascade Nursery’s ranch in Tulelake, California. They’re processing the nursery’s bare-root strawberry plants to supply fruit growers across the United States, Mexico and other parts of the globe.

The workers rate, trim and package the stock. Good lighting is critical to the job.

“It’s really important people can see the plants,” said Vice President of Operations John Wells. “They’re making split-second decisions on grade and quality.”

However, the outdated lighting over the workstations wasn’t up to the task.

Wells’ dissatisfaction with the situation prompted a call to Pacific Power’s wattsmart® Business program for a solution. The program provides cash-back incentives and technical assistance for lighting, HVAC and other equipment upgrades that increase electric energy efficiency.

High-bay LEDs: packed with advantages

Sierra-Cascade grows berry stock on a total of 6,400 acres in five locations, making it one of the largest nursery operations of its kind in the world. The company has built a strong reputation in its nearly 40 year history for providing the highest quality products using the most sustainable practices available.

Wells said the company had upgraded the lighting in a small maintenance facility at one location and was pleased with the results. The improvement got them looking to make the change at the Tulelake site.

With help from wattsmart Business, Sierra-Cascade upgraded the 400-watt metal halide and T12 fluorescent lighting in the production and packing areas to highly efficient 256-watt, high-bay LED lighting. Similar metal halide lighting in the operation’s cooler room also replaced high-bay LEDs.

LEDs are an increasingly popular choice for high-bay lighting applications. In addition to high quality light and superior energy efficiency, LEDs’ long operating life – 50,000 to 100,000 hours – can help reduce maintenance and replacement costs. The technology’s dimming capabilities are compatible with daylighting and occupancy controls, which can increase savings further. 

For Sierra-Cascade, LEDs offer other key advantages: they turn on instantly and have no restrike time delay.

“With the metal halide lighting, if the power goes out, they’ve got to cool off before they finally get back up,” said Wells.

Lower costs, higher productivity

The high-bay LED lighting upgrades Sierra-Cascade Nursery implemented are estimated to save nearly 80,650 kilowatt-hours a year in electricity and $10,740 in energy costs annually. The company earned a Pacific Power incentive of $7,700 for its energy-saving results.

Wells said the utility’s program made the difference in moving ahead with the project.

“We’re like anybody else – capital expenditures are scrutinized hard,” he said. “The assistance from Pacific Power made it affordable.”

This year’s harvest will be the first with the new lighting and Wells said the benefits of the improved work environment should be substantial.

“Take 500 people and increase their productivity just a percent or two – it’s huge.”

Learn more about energy efficiency services and incentives for businesses »