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Case Study

Using PG&E Irrigation Incentives to Help Deploy Automation Systems


Faced with ongoing challenges and uncertainty, growers across California continually search for ways to reduce costs (labor, water, energy), increase efficiency, and improve crop quality and yields.


When it comes to irrigation automation incentives from the utility (PG&E), Polaris Energy Services and Cal-West Rain frequently work together to deploy custom solutions for ag operations across Central California and the Central Coast.

Outlined below is a case study highlighting a recent joint project outside of Bakersfield.

Key Takeaways:

  • Utility incentives can help pay for the irrigation automation investment

  • Polaris provides expertise in utility incentives, programs and Time of Use management to reduce costs

  • Collaboration by Polaris and Cal-West Rain benefits the grower with unmatched expertise


Problems: Rising irrigation-related labor costs and declining labor availability, reduced surface water allocations and SGMA regulations, PG&E Time of Use (TOU) rates require greater precision in irrigation to minimize costs and maximize crop yields. Automation systems can be expensive and compete for limited capital budgets.


Location: Kern County, CA


Acres: ~5,000


Crops: Almonds, walnuts, corn, garlic, wheat, alfalfa, orchard grass, oats, carrots


Solution: Take advantage of irrigation automation incentives from PG&E to deploy a pump automation system with flow and reservoir monitoring across this 5,000-acre operation. The new automation system provides remote irrigation control, monitoring, and scheduling to help reduce costs related to labor, water, energy, and reporting while improving crop yields and quality. Monitoring and control capability was added to the following equipment, along with 23 flow meters to the system.

  • 23 main wells

  • 7 booster pumps

  • 7 reservoir depth sensors


Given the large number of sites and the wide variety of pumps and controllers, the deployment of this automation system was fairly complex. The experience and knowledge of the Cal-West Rain team were critical in determining the right electrical configuration for each pump site to integrate with the Polaris system.


Grower Benefits: Polaris helped the grower to apply for and receive $230K of incentives from PG&E’s Automated Demand Response program and will help them participate with minimal impact on irrigation schedules. As the grower gains experience with the system, he expects to manage schedules more aggressively for greater savings.


Going forward the system will deliver the right amount of water to crops, reducing irrigation-related labor costs, energy costs, and measuring water withdrawals for SGMA while earning recurring revenue from the utility grid for occasionally adjusting pumping schedules.

Background Information: Over the last 10 years, Polaris has become a trusted solution by growers and Ag operations across Central California with hundreds of pumps and 100,000+ HP under management. Combined with 30+ years of experience at Cal-West Rain, the collaborative approach of Polaris and Cal-West Rain delivers innovative pump automation, irrigation, and energy programs that optimize operations while delivering smarter saving


The intuitive myPOLARIS mobile and web app simplify pump automation and irrigation control. Polaris makes it easy to manage and monitor pumps — applying the right amount of water at the right time while minimizing energy costs. The result? Energy savings, superior irrigation uniformity, and greatly reduced labor costs [Download Polaris Brochure – PDF].

  • Reliable – Rely on the system proven and trusted for more than 10 years by leading California Ag operations.

  • Simple – Click-and-manage hundreds of pumps from an intuitive, easy-to-use app. Powerful. Control schedules, monitor equipment health, get alerts, and view reports from any device…anywhere, anytime.

  • Economical – Optimize energy, labor, and operating costs with the right level of automation with optional financing using utility incentives and programs.

  • Future-Proof – Optimize today for new TOU (Time of Use) rates and effortlessly transition to dynamic energy pricing in the future.


Learn More: If you’re interested in learning more about irrigation automation incentives from the utility, get in touch with Polaris Energy Services or Cal-West Rain. With years of experience, we offer proven irrigation, pump, and automation solutions designed for your Ag operation and budget.

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