Skip to main content

OWB Packers – Featured Project

OWB Packers

Featured Project

Energy Efficiency Retrofit Nets OWB Packers $480K in Annual Energy Cost Savings and Nearly $3 Million in State Grants and Utility Incentives

Project Details

  • Business: OWB Packers
  • Category: Protein Processing & Packing
  • Location: Brawley, CA
  • Project Type: Energy Efficiency Retrofit


  • California Energy Commission Sacramento, CA
  • Imperial Irrigation District Imperial, CA
  • SoCal Gas Monterey Park, CA

Project Overview

OWB Packers is a beef processing and packaging facility located in Brawley, California. Their operation is energy-intensive, with refrigeration, steam/hot water, and compressed air running continuously with limited options to curtail activities or otherwise lower demand and usage during processing periods. To reduce operating costs, OWB Packers sought to upgrade the facility’s existing utility systems through state-of-the-art energy conservation measures. Since OWB Packers is situated within a low-income and air-quality disadvantaged community, site workers, residents, and visitors are subject to a range of consequent adverse impacts. As a result, OWB was also looking to reduce the plant’s impact on the local community.

The DCE project team developed a comprehensive strategy that maximized energy, cost, and emission savings while taking advantage of nearly $3 million in implementation rebates, grants, and incentives.

Energy Conservation Measures

01. Ammonia Refrigeration

New refrigeration equipment included a 700 HP stationary screw compressor, which replaced pre-existing onsite portable refrigeration trailers. Additionally, a 500 HP VFD-equipped screw compressor was installed to efficiently trim during part-load conditions. Similarly, (2) of the pre-existing evaporative condensers were replaced with high-efficiency evaporative condensers. Lastly, an in-depth review of the startup and operation of evaporative condensers was conducted, which lead to the discovery of some operational inefficiencies that were corrected, leading to additional energy savings from the evaporative condensers.

  • Installed new fixed-speed and VFD-equipped screw compressors.
  • Replaced (2) evaporative condensers.
  • Optimized evaporative condensers startup and operation.

Energy Conservation Measures

02. Steam/Hot Water

Boiler system upgrades included retrofitting each boiler with stack economizers, combustion blower VFDs, hot water pump VFDs, and a central controller capable of 02 trim and sequencing controls. The economizers increase the feed-water temperature, reducing the amount of fuel consumed by the boilers to meet the pre-existing steam/hot water demand. Additionally, the new controls optimally load the boilers and pumps in relation to facility demand while minimizing excess oxygen during the combustion process. The boiler system scope also involved insulating approximately 2,000 feet of steam/hot water piping and a 215,000-gallon hot water storage tank.

  • Retrofitted (3) 600 HP and (1) 700 HP steam boilers with waste-heat recovery economizers, combustion blower VFDs, 02 trim, and sequencing controls.
  • Retrofitted (3) 50 HP and (3) 100 HP hot water pumps with VFDs.
  • Insulated approximately 2,000 feet of steam/hot water piping and a 215,000-gallon hot water tank.

Energy Conservation Measures

03. Compressed Air

The compressed air equipment included oil-free direct drive centrifugal and screw compressors with integrated VFD motor controls and a heat of compression desiccant air dryer package. The two-stage variable speed centrifugal compressor provides unmatched efficiency due to its low energy consumption and incredibly low off-load power consumption. These off-load power savings and improved efficiency result in approximately 25% lower energy consumption compared to a two-stage variable speed oil-free rotary screw compressor.

  • Replaced existing air-cooled, oil-flooded air compressors with ultra-efficient water-cooled, oil-free air compressors.
  • Increased engine room piping diameter size to minimize system pressure drop.
  • Replaced existing blower purge air dryer with a heat of compression desiccant air dryer.

Estimated Project Results


Food Production Investment Program (FPIP) Grant


Utility-Backed Rebates & Incentives


Full Facility Electricity Use Reduction


Natural Gas Energy Use Reduction

2,500,000 kWh

Annual Energy Savings

+/-380,000 Therms

Annual Natural Gas Savings


Annual Cost Savings

2,593 MTCO2e

Annual Carbon Footprint Reduction

Download the OWB Packers Energy Efficiency Retrofit One Sheet

With DCE’s help, we secured nearly $3 million in funding to upgrade our processing equipment in a way that is good for us and good for our community. The improvements to operational efficiency hit two key targets of ours - to use less energy and to reduce our facility’s carbon footprint. We’re now on track to save nearly a half million dollars a year in energy costs, and our employees, neighbors and families are benefiting from the significant reduction in emissions. These guys know how to check all the boxes.

Armand NicholiOWB Packers