Demand response enabled CMV Farms to make the most of its flexible operations
Time for change
Established in 1981 CMV Farms currently farm more than 1,300 hectares of almonds, pistachios, and wine grapes. Although only a Flow Power customer for the last two months, CMV Farms has already been reaping the benefits of its adoption of demand response.
CMV Farms were previously locked into a fixed-term, three-year contract with another provider, at the end of this contract and facing dramatically inflated pricing, Agribusiness Manager, Ryan Norton, contacted Flow Power to review the farms’ energy consumption, spend and propose a solution that would suit its future growth plans.
“Our fixed-term contract with another provider worked well for us but as energy prices soared and we were coming out of contract., we had to look for alternative options that better supported our business. Speaking with Flow Power made us realise that there were options available that could help us gain better control over our energy use and costs,” said Norton.
CMV Farms’ most energy-intensive operation is pumping water, yet this is also it’s most critical. Pumping requires over 2,500 kWs of energy, across its pistachios, almonds, and wine grape operations.
“Flow Power helped us to better understand the wholesale market and how to read the market signals, so we can strategise on how best to manage possible events to control our energy use through employing demand response management. We now have control over our energy consumption and are no longer strictly price-takers,” said Norton.
Demand response enabled CMV Farms to make the most of its flexible operations just in time for the record-breaking temperatures of January 2019 that swept the country.
“We use demand response because our operations are flexible and large cost savings can be made. For instance, in high temperatures we tailor our irrigation operations by shortening our water patterns when the market is right to do so, inflated markets historically don’t last that long allowing us to return to normal operation before any negative agronomical effects” said Norton.
“Our training on the market signals familiarised us with AEMO’s notification process and what could trigger an event. We were all ready to completely cut pumping operations as soon as notifications went out. The system worked really well.”
“Summer is a difficult time to fully tailor our operations as demands on our irrigation infrastructure is at 100%, however outside of summer, when irrigation demands soften, we’re definitely continuing to move operations off-peak in tune with the market. We’ve not been with Flow Power long but we’re very confident of making big savings by responding to the spot market.
Utilising demand response helped CMV Farms achieve 40 percent below market average rates at five out of its six sites.
“If you’re willing to put in the research and get active, the benefits of using demand response definitely outweigh the old fixed-term contracts. If you have the ability to curtail it’s an easy process that makes sense.”
“Australia’s horticulture industry has a huge focus on the cost of energy – It’s a cost and efficiency game where driving costs down provides a business profitability buffer for when crop prices fall. You must work smart. We feel ahead of the game because working with Flow Power has given us access to smart tools like demand response. Energy is a hot topic and we’ve got our house in order. We’re very happy and see no reason we won’t be in it for the long haul where our energy management is concerned.”