Technology Helps Costa Farms Track And Reduce Energy Costs
Costa Farms, based in Miami, FL, began its commitment to energy savings in 2014, says Vice President of Operations Peter Freyre. The operation, one of the largest in the world, scales several locations plus a 2,000-acre farm in the Dominican Republic. Costa Farms’ owners and management didn’t like the feeling of having little to no control over a significant line item cost. Just at its Miami farms alone, Freyre found that Costa Farms had 125 separate accounts — and bills — with local utility provider Florida Power and Light (FP&L).
Instead, the operation wanted to be able to break down energy costs and be able to allocate them to specific departments and, even more granularly, to specific uses within each department. Costa Farms used its custom ERP system to collect all of the data, and establish a baseline for how much it is spending and where, pay bills, and allocate energy expenses.
“The biggest and most daunting task of this is frankly the most unsexy part, which is managing all of the data,” Freyre says. “Getting ahold of all of those FP&L accounts and more importantly, being able to map out which accounts correspond to which circuits, lights, potting machines, etc. All of these issues are tied back, and it was a tremendous effort to get all of the data consolidated.”
While the process began with tracking its electricity use, Costa Farms is now entering into its next budgeting cycle with the ability to budget to a greater degree, down to the specific department level for all different types of energy usage.
“We are tracking energy, not just electricity,” Freyre says. “The department that we have created has a mandate to look at everything, regardless of whether it’s electric, propane, natural gas, diesel, you name it. In some instances, we’re going back and doing an evaluation of whether something is the most efficient fuel or energy source.”
With older infrastructure that has been acquired over a number of years, some of the equipment that made sense when it was installed is now outdated, and newer equipment is much more efficient, Freyre adds.
Since Costa Farms started its energy tracking and allocation project, the operation has seen an 8.5%