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Rabba builds business resiliency with solar panels

Green Integration solar panels, similar to what will be installed at Rabba's Mississauga distribution facilities. (Courtesy Green Integration Inc.)

Rabba Fine Foods, a Greater Toronto Area market and convenience store chain, will install 2,585 solar panels at its Mississauga distribution facilities to lower its carbon footprint and insulate it against energy disruptions and price swings.

The panels will generate more than 1.5 million kW-h of electricity annually, reducing the company’s carbon dioxide (CO2) output by 822 tonnes – equivalent to planting 362,000 trees.

The work will begin in the spring and is expected to be complete by the end of 2023, with installation by Green Integrations Inc. and Star Energy Solutions.

“There are a number of reasons why we opted to install solar panels. The main reason is availability and the familiarity with solar panels. They are already an established technology that we could rely upon and execute in a realistic timeline,” said Rick Rabba, company president, in an email interview with SustainableBiz.

“We also like that solar power is a renewable energy source that does not produce emissions. From a business perspective, we also appreciate how solar energy allows us to insulate our daily operations from future fluctuations in energy prices or grid reliability issues.”

Rabba, Star Energy and Green Integrations

Founded in 1967, family-owned Rabba outlets serve over 36 neighbourhoods in the western and central areas of the GTA. Its facilities distribute groceries and refrigerated, dairy and frozen goods, as well as specialty items.

Rabba has a long history with Green Integrations and Star Energy Solutions, making the companies a natural choice for the solar installations. 

Star Energy Solutions, established in 2011 and based in Oakville, is a consultancy and solutions provider focused mainly on energy efficiency for retailers, supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, food processing, cold storage and community care facilities for the elderly.

Green Integrations, based in Toronto, provides turnkey renewable energy and clean-tech solutions for client companies. Founded in 2012, its website states it has completed 296 projects and offset over 5,737 tonnes of CO2.

The panels will be installed at two of Rabba's distribution centres, which have extensive refrigerated and frozen food components, thus requiring plenty of electricity consumption.

“We have a long history of executing energy saving and emission-reducing projects with each of them. Green Integrations started with us many years ago by doing various retrofits and upgrades to our store network,” Rabba said.

“Star Energy Solutions has been providing us with guidance and analysis for all our facilities for many years and has already overseen multiple energy saving initiatives at our distribution centres and retail stores.”

Agreement delayed by pandemic

The agreement had been in the works for “a long time,” but had been delayed by the pandemic and Rabba's efforts to recover from those disruptions.

“Green Integrations is honoured to have been chosen by the Rabba team to develop its first solar net-metering systems,” said John Staneko, president and CEO at Green Integrations, in a statement. “This initiative serves as a great example of a growing group of companies that are future-proofing their businesses with renewable energy.

"This initiative will lead to tangible economic and environmental outcomes including job creation, supporting the green economy and a reduced carbon footprint."

Looking ahead, Rabba plans to continue work on refrigeration initiatives to reduce demand on the grid.

“Technology is constantly changing and we shall continue to strive to always be ahead of the curve as newer, better practices become available,” Rabba said.

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