Convenience stores that sell groceries, snacks, and gasoline are energy intensive buildings. As their business model has shifted from automotive services to retail sales of gas, food and drink, their plug load, lighting, and refrigeration loads have increased rapidly. The objective of this CARD grant, awarded to Michaels Energy of La Crosse, Wis., was to identify the energy efficiency opportunities for this market sector through energy audits in a sample of Minnesota stores, and to recommend a program design for Minnesota utilities to more effectively capitalize on those opportunities. Since heating fuel use for the stores in this sample was so minor, electricity use was a primary focus of research in this study.

To conduct this project Michaels Energy partnered with multiple utilities statewide, especially municipal utilities and coops, to assist them with accomplishing their energy saving targets, enhance their limited budgets and resources, and address a customer type that is difficult for them to impact. Stores participating in this study were split about half and half between corporate/chain ownership (29 stores) and independent/local ownership (21 stores). Small differences were noted between chain and independently owned stores in their energy use and opportunities to save energy. The study did not include small grocery stores that do not have a gas station on site, because the exterior lighting associated with the gas canopy is a significant load in convenience stores.