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Sun-Maid – Featured Project


Featured Project

Energy Efficiency Retrofit Nets Sun-Maid Growers of California $600K in Annual Energy Cost Savings and Over $950,000 in State Grants and Utility Incentives

Project Details

  • Business: Sun-Maid Growers
  • Category: Dried Fruit Processor
  • Location: Kingsburg, CA
  • Project Type: Compressed Air Retrofit


  • Process Air Solutions – Fenton, MO
  • California Energy Commission – Sacramento, CA
  • Pacific Gas & Electric – San Francisco, CA
  • Gardner Denver Industrial Products – Quincy, IL

Project Overview

California processes over 1 million tons of grapes annually, producing nearly 100 percent of the total U.S. raisin output. Raisin processing and packaging facilities frequently operate continuously and often lie within air-quality disadvantaged communities. Operations are energy intensive, with limited options for reducing demand and usage. In this environment, retrofitting compressed air systems is one of the best ways to improve operational efficiency by reducing runtime and maintaining operations at lower pressures.

Sun-Maid® and its project partners sought to obtain a state-of-the-art compressed air system at its Kingsburg, CA facility that would reduce operating costs, carbon footprint, and maintenance requirements.

The project team developed a California Title 24 compliant compressed air system that reduced total facility electricity consumption by approximately 25%. The project qualified for a California Energy Commission-sponsored FPIP grant of $805,584, and approximately $150,000 in utility-backed incentives.

01. Measurement and Verification

DC Energy conducted in-depth measurement and verification (M&V) and analysis, which indicated that the pre-existing compressed air system provided very little turn-down for low demand requirements, and the air dryer design represented a large portion of the system’s air demand at over 600 SCFM. Additionally, the system demonstrated deviations of operating pressure +/- 10 PSIG with an operating pressure well over 100 PSIG.

Based on these findings, DC Energy determined that the varying production demand would be more effectively served with an appropriately sized and stepped compressed air supply system.

02. Grants & Incentives

DC Energy worked closely with the Sun-Maid® team to apply for multiple sources of project funding to offset capital investment. The result was a grant award from the California Energy Commission’s (CEC) Food Production Investment Program (FPIP) in the amount of $805,584 and approximately $150,000 in incentives from their electric utility provider.

03. Oil-Free, Centrifugal Compressor

The new equipment includes direct drive centrifugal and screw compressors with integrated variable frequency drive motor controls, heat of compression desiccant air dryer packages, increased air storage capacity, and a flow pressure controller. The compressor features an “oil-less” design, ensuring zero risk of product contamination due to oil carryover. The two-stage variable speed centrifugal compressor provides unmatched efficiency due to its low level of energy consumption, and it’s incredibly low off-load power consumption.

These off-load power savings and improved efficiency result in approximately 25% lower energy consumption compared to a traditional two-stage variable speed oil-free rotary screw compressor. Additionally, if desired, the compressors allow for a significant amount of heat recovery, allowing the facility to offset boiler usage for heating hot water in the future.

Estimated Project Results


Food Production Investment Program (FPIP) Grant


Utility-Backed Rebates & Incentives

4,441,086 kWh

Annual Electricity Use Reduction


Annual Energy Cost Savings

1,012 MTCO2e

Annual Carbon Footprint Reduction

2 Years

Project ROI Payback

Project Recognized by the California Energy Commission and the National Association of Energy Engineers

Project Overview

Sun-Maid’s compressed air system optimization project won the National Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) Region V Energy Project of the Year Award for 2020.

Read the feature about this project on page 89 of the California Climate Investments 2020 Annual Report.

Read the Report

“Our highly skilled stationary engineers can now focus on more important duties related to putting raisins in the red box instead of babysitting the compressors, dryers, and cooling system. Because our compressed air encounters the raisins during the washing and cleaning process, it is an ingredient. Clean, dry, oil-free air is a must, and that is what this new compressed air system delivers.”

Josh O’BannonSun-Maid, Engineering Manager