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Energy Commission Grant Helps Airline Kitchen Land Big Energy Savings



As the state's primary energy policy and planning agency, it’s not unusual for the California Energy Commission to have its fingers in many pots including the ones used to prepare meals for airline passengers flying out of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The Energy Commission awarded a $900,000 Building Natural Gas Technology grant in 2014 to Fisher-Nickel, Inc. The project's goal was to demonstrate to the commercial food service community the business value of replacing standard cooking equipment with energy efficient items that improve cooking performance and significantly reduce energy costs.



A year later, Fisher-Nickel began setting up demonstration projects in the kitchen of a popular restaurant in San Diego, a large national hotel in Pleasanton, and a dining hall at an University of California campus. The company also partnered with Southern California Gas Co. for a demonstration project at the LAX kitchen of Gate Gourmet, a Swiss company that provides global airline catering services. As many as 32,000 meals per day are prepared at the LAX facility for passengers on domestic and international flights

One of the first things that Fisher-Nickel did at the Gate Gourmet was replace a 60-gallon steam kettle that has an annual operating cost of $5,000 with a large steamer that cost less than $1,000 a year to operate.

The company also replaced a conventional broiler with a conveyor-type broiler, a single oven with a double-stack convection oven, and a six-burner range with a four-burner model. Topping it off was new energy efficient cookware. In all, the new equipment is expected to reduce annual natural gas use by more than 9,100 therms – that’s equivalent to what 60 average California home kitchens would use in a year.

The LAX demonstration is scheduled to wrap up in mid-February. The other demonstrations will be completed in 2017. Fisher-Nickel will present the results from the demonstration projects to the Energy Commission.

If successful, the demonstrations could become a model for the industry. With more than 93,000 commercial food service facilities in the state, that would be a big pot of savings, not to mention, a significant reduction in natural gas use.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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