The latest business incentive program from the California Air Resources Board will tackle a group of climate super pollutants with global warming potential thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide. The $1 million investment will help pay for new, innovative refrigeration equipment at 14 grocery stores and two retrofits from the Bay Area to San Diego, with a focus on stores located in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
Supermarket and large grocery store refrigeration systems can lose up to 25 percent of the refrigerant they use each year. Those refrigerants are powerful greenhouse gases, trapping up to 4,000 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, the most common carbon pollutant.
The first F-gas Reduction Incentive Program (FRIP) grants will pay for a portion of the cost to install new or upgrade existing supermarket and grocery store commercial systems with new refrigerants with far lower global warming potentials, and introduce new refrigeration technologies, including some climate-friendly innovations that are found in only a handful of stores nationwide.
“These grants support solutions that will significantly reduce climate pollution with a focus on low-income and disadvantaged communities most impacted by climate change,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. ”Providing state incentives to the private sector also helps accelerate the move to climate-friendly refrigeration solutions throughout the industry, especially in groceries and supermarkets.”
Funding for FRIP comes from the California Climate Investments program, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities. Fifty percent of the FRIP projects will be located in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
“The undeniable effects of climate change are adding to our already stressed health care system and distressed economy, and these innovative investments exemplify how we can mutually promote clean technologies and strengthen our businesses,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who authored Senate Bill 1013 establishing the grant program when he was a member of the California Legislature in 2018. “California once again is leading the way with pro-climate, pro-business strategies. Today’s investments in sustainable cooling systems will pay off for decades in lower super-pollutant emissions.”
SB 1013, also known as the California Cooling Act, authorized the FRIP program to address higher upfront costs to convert to more climate-friendly refrigeration systems and solutions, and to address an overall lack of familiarity in the industry with newer, commercially available technologies.
The FRIP grants support businesses that fall under the umbrella of California’s Refrigerant Management Program. Adopted in 2009, the program complements federal regulations. Large systems must register with the program, and annually report the amount of refrigerant used. The program also provides guidance on locating and repairing leaks, and best practices for facility owners.
Supermarket and large grocery store refrigeration systems typically have extensive networks of pipes and connections, making it difficult and expensive to locate and repair leaks. Installing new technologies and refrigerants with lower global warming potential greatly reduces the impact of these leaks on climate change. A refrigeration system for a grocery store can cost upwards of several hundred thousand dollars. The first round of FRIP incentive grants help cover the higher incremental costs in newly constructed and existing supermarkets and range from about $34,000 to $150,000 and include retrofits as well as completely new systems. Businesses will provide training for service technicians to build familiarity with new technologies and enhance workforce development in the industry.
The grants support new technology found in less than one percent of stores nationwide today, and some that have only been used to date in a limited number of locations in the United States. This year’s grant winners include small groceries and large chain stores.
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