California Fruit Business Expands Solar Array After Experiencing Savings

2001

California-based SunWest Fruit Company expands its current 1MW rooftop solar array with a 1.9MW addittion after experiencing firsthand the great benefits of solar on its electricity bills. The addition will bring the total offset of electricity to approximately 70%, and upon completion the solar installation will be one of the largest privately owned systems in the Central Valley.

At the height of the summer season, fruit packing houses run multiple shifts from dawn to midnight. They demand huge amounts of electricity — which can cause sleepless nights for executives. That was the situation for SunWest Fruit Company, a grower, packer, and shipper of peaches, plums, nectarines, pluots, oranges, and mandarins, located in Parlier, California.

The enormous electricity expenses urged the company to minimize its costs as much as possible. During the past ten years, SunWest upgraded their lighting and used software that helped lower incremental demands. The firm also reviewed its rate schedule to make adjustments in usage. But all these measures weren’t enough.

SunWest Fruit Company President Martin Britz commented: “We could offset our electricity expense in most areas of our farming operation, but we could not offset our packing house usage from peak utility rates in the afternoons.” The main problem was the “pre-cooling and packing equipment that must run on the hot afternoons.”

Therefore, SunWest decided to go solar to bridge the gap. The company contracted with solar installer Pickett Solar, which installed a 1MW project consisting of 3,240 solar panels, enough to offset about a third of its electricity usage. 

With the solar installation, the company saw significant decreases in their electric bills. Now, SunWest  has announced it will add a 1.9MW rooftop solar installation to its current 1MW rooftop solar array. According to SunWest, the addition will bring the total offset of electricity to approximately 70%. Upon completion, the solar installation will be one of the largest privately owned systems in the Central Valley.

ReneSola (NYSE: SOL), a technology provider of solar PV products, in collaboration with California solar installer Pickett Solar, will be contributing the solar modules for the project. The offset of the entire collective solar array will be 3,922,600KW hours of energy saved annually, enough to power 490 homes each year. 

“Investing in an energy source that will not go up in price and that pays for itself in five years is a sound, bankable decision — vital to long term stability and growth,” Britz concluded.