Calif. Farming Company CEO: ‘Solar Works For Us’

Posted by Joseph Bebon on October 07, 2016 No Comments
Categories : Projects & Contracts

Alta Energy, a renewable energy solutions provider, has announced the deployment of solar energy for Merrill Farms, a fourth-generation Salinas, Calif., vegetable and berry grower.

Totaling 1.6 MW, the solar projects will offset nearly 80% of the electricity consumption on two large growing sites. The projects are also expected to generate approximately $60,000 per acre of revenue annually and gross energy savings of approximately $12 million over 25 years.

Alta Energy says it worked with Merrill Farms to site the solar systems on mostly unproductive areas of two ranches in order to preserve as much fertile acreage for crop production as possible.

“My family has been stewards of the land since 1933,” said Ross Merrill, CEO of Merrill Farms. “We intend to continue this tradition using best practices and new technologies. When I sat down with the Alta Energy team, they analyzed 13 of our growing operations and facilities, went through their financial analysis of our solar potential and identified the optimal sites. After this analysis, I saw clearly that solar was a ‘no brainer’ for our growing operations.”

Merrill Farms gained further financial benefits by utilizing the 30% federal tax credit and accelerated depreciation, as well as by choosing a financing structure that required virtually no money down and a loan that will be paid off by the energy savings.

“Solar is an economic and environmental boon for California agriculture,” said Alta Energy CEO Sam Lee. “Growers, processors and shippers can save money, utilize less-productive farmland, reap operational benefits and simultaneously become more sustainable. With the high electricity rates paid by California farmers, the lower cost of solar, incentives and favorable policies, solar is ripe for California agriculture.”

There is another major incentive for growers to go solar: their customers.

“More and more of our customers expect us to incorporate sustainability into our operations,” noted Merrill. “We believe supply-chain transparency is a trend that will only accelerate, and sustainability will likely become more important to both our customers and the produce consumer. As a grower, we are trying to do as much as we can. Solar works for us.”

Leave a Comment