( Courtesy Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology )

The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology and energy tech company Concentric Power Inc. are teaming up for the Salinas Valley Energy Forum

The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, Salinas, Calif., and Concentric Power are co-hosting the Jan. 27 event to help grower-shippers “maintain productivity and improve profitability through energy independence,” according to a Western Growers news release.

“Energy is a huge part of farming,” Dennis Donohue, director of the Western Growers center, said in the news release. “In fact, everything done after harvest requires power. Our members provide over half the nation's fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, so it’s critically important we help them navigate the energy challenges currently facing the state.”

The forum will discuss overcoming instability in energy availability, reliability and pricing, according to the release.

Matthew Willis, vice president of product and business development of Concentric Power, will moderate the forum. Speakers/panelists include:

  • Brian Curtis, founder and CEO of Concentric Power;
  • Rick Sturtevant, state energy coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • Norm Groot, executive director at the Monterey County Farm Bureau;
  • Rene Mendez, city manager for the City of Gonzales, Calif.; and
  • Gregg Morasca, vice president of strategic customers at Schneider Electric.

“Technological advancements, business models, regulation changes and the low cost of capital have made energy independence a viable option,” Curtis, founder and CEO of Concentric Power, said in the release. “Many organizations simply don’t know that it can pencil out both economically and technically.”

Curtis said power shutoffs and rising utility rates are affecting agricultural businesses in California.

Widespread wildfires have bankrupted California’s largest energy utility and caused power shutoffs. At the same time, rates in the PG&E service territory have risen 20%, according to the release.

The forum is from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 27 at the Taylor Farms Curious Classroom at the center.

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