As a manufacturer in a business that uses significant resources, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s philosophy has always been to manage those resources as efficiently and sustainably as possible. Over the years, the nation's seventh-largest brewery has established a reputation as a sustainability leader, taking steps to dramatically improve efficiency and reduce carbon dioxide emissions at its Chico, California-based operations. As a longtime partner, PG&E has been proud to help Sierra Nevada achieve its business and sustainability goals. By taking advantage of PG&E's portfolio of options—earning incentives for energy efficiency, installing on-site solar and fuel cells, and being among the first to sign up for our new ClimateSmart™ program—Sierra Nevada stands apart as a customer managing for today and planning for tomorrow.
Ken Grossman is the CEO and co-founder of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., www.sierranevada.com, considered the nation's premier craft brewery and a pioneer that continues to demonstrate environmental leadership.
Lia White is a Service and Sales Manager for PG&E, who has worked hand in hand with Sierra Nevada for many years to find new ways to use energy in a more sustainable manner.
How are you meeting your sustainability goals?
Grossman: We have a fairly aggressive recycling program and now divert more than 97 percent of our waste stream. On the energy front, we've been working with PG&E for years on retrofit projects to save energy. We're also generating a lot of power on site. We installed four 250 kW fuel cells, fed in part with biogas from our wastewater treatment process. We've also put up 1.4 MW of solar panels—I think it's one of the country's largest privately owned installations. My focus right now is how to use even less power.
How has PG&E helped Sierra Nevada meet its goals?
White: Getting to know customers like Ken and their goals is really the best approach. We've got a portfolio of programs that we try to match with customers' needs—whether it's sustainability, reduced energy costs, bottom line benefits or all three. We enjoy working with customers like Ken who are willing to try new things and we learn together.
Is climate change a driver for you?
Grossman: We have a goal to reduce our carbon footprint. We're a member of the California Climate Action Registry, so we're tracking our emissions and looking for ways to improve. Part of our strategy is saving energy by being more efficient in our processes. We also signed up for PG&E's ClimateSmart™ program, and we think the extra money we're spending is going to good projects. We're also capturing and reusing the carbon dioxide (CO2) from our fermentation process.
What are your expectations from PG&E as a business customer?
Grossman: Having an advocate like Lia, who we feel is looking out for our best interests, has been a key to our ability to do a lot of these initiatives. It's been a real asset.
What can others learn from this partnership?
White: You know, we're a regulated company working under a variety of rules and requirements. But being a partner is one of the most important things we can do for our customers. When we share a common goal, some really great things can happen. The biggest key is good communication with the customer. We're fortunate that Ken has such a great vision and commitment. We strive for this kind of relationship.
Grossman: Many business owners are busy. But there are a lot of simple, inexpensive projects that companies can do. We share information because that kind of exchange allows people to see what is being done, and what can be done, cost-effectively.
What will it take for PG&E to become the utility of the future?
Grossman: I see change happening in the utility sector in California. In the next 10 to 20 years, there will be a lot of new technologies coming forward—generating energy from agricultural waste, solar, biomass, ocean waves. I know you're already working in this area, but I'm sure you can do even more. We will need a mix of energy solutions in the future.