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Sunkist Makes New Kind of 'Juice'

April 07, 1985|LOUIS SAHAGUN

A new cogeneration plant in Ontario is enabling Sunkist Growers Inc. to produce all the electricity and steam it needs to process juice into concentrate while shaving 10% off the company's energy bill each year.

Operations of the $14-million, 12-megawatt "Cheng Cycle" cogeneration plant, which was built by International Power Technology of Palo Alto, began in late December, and Sunkist officials are enthusiastic about the results.

Vincent Bendanillo, supervisor of operations engineering for the 6,000-member, Van Nuys-based citrus cooperative, said the company expects to save $650,000 in the plant's first year of operation.

Under the old system, which used electricity bought from Southern California Edison Co. and steam produced by its own boilers, Sunkist spent about $6.5 million a year to produce the 35 million kilowatts of power and 350 million pounds of steam needed for pasteurizing and processing its juice.

The new cost savings, he said, "will reduce our manufacturing costs and make us a little more competitive in the industry."

The Sunkist cogeneration unit is the second built by International Power Technology. The first one, built at San Jose State University, went into operation in December, 1984. The Cheng Cycle, named for International Power Technology founder Dah Yu Cheng (now a technical consultant for the company) was chosen because it can handle wide variations in energy loads. When juice processing needs are low at the facility, the excess steam is injected into a gas turbine that boosts electrical production. As a result, the cogeneration plant operates always at close to maximum capacity, IPT said.

The Sunkist cogeneration facility was primarily funded through an International Power Technology subsidiary called Ontario Cogen Inc., which raised the capital in a sale and lease-back arrangement with Citicorp and Union Bank, according to Lee Kosla, vice president at International Power.

Under a complex series of agreements, International Power Technology and Sunkist will share the benefits of selling the surplus electricity produced at the facility to Edison, Kosla said.

Under these agreements, Sunkist and International Power Technology expect to repay the cost of building the cogeneration plant within 15 years, he said.

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