Winery Solar System to Offset 95% of Utility Bill, Show Positive ROI in 7 Years

by | Jul 17, 2017

Monticello Vineyards in Napa, CA, has installed a solar system expected to offset 95% of their utility bill and saving the company thousands each month in electricity costs. The solar PV system, provided and installed by SolarCraft, includes 540 SunPower 327-watt solar panels which will produce 280,000 kilowatt hours annually.

During the life of the system, almost 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide generated by the Monticello’s operations will be eliminated. And the nearly maintenance-free system should pay for itself within 7 years, according to SolarCraft.

The solar power system at Monticello Vineyards represents one of the many wineries that are making the switch to solar power to reduce their electric bills. Agricultural farming, processing and storage have high and variable energy needs. High electrical rates have become one of the more expensive and unpredictable costs of running a winery or farming operation. Wineries that have begun using solar power include Robert Young Estates Vineyards & Winery, Hess Collection Winery, Chateau Montelena, and Ballentine Vineyards. And Fetzer Vineyards has been operating on 100% renewable energy since 1999. This is through a 911-kW photovoltaic system and another 4- kW photovoltaic system, with the remaining energy purchased from a direct-access provider that supplies energy from wind turbines.

Energy Storage Saves $15 Million

Jackson Family Wines has chosen another route for energy management. In 2015, JFW installed 21 Tesla Energy stationary energy storage systems for a total of 4.2 megawatts of storage capacity.

JFW has had a strategy for energy efficiency since 2008, when the company began baselining energy usage. Through energy efficiency initiatives alone, the company has documented savings greater than $15 million. They also reduced the energy and water required to produce a gallon of wine. Once these energy efficiency savings were realized and each winery was as efficient as possible, JFW committed to reinvesting the savings in onsite renewable energy.

Wind Power Also Offsets Agribusiness Energy Costs

Meanwhile, other agricultural businesses are investing in wind power. Miller Sonshine Acres Farm installed two 100 kW turbines on his farm; his monthly electric bills dropped by 65% after installation of the first turbine, spurring him to install a second.

The Small Wind Turbine program offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) helped fund the use of renewable energy at Miller Sonshine Acres farm. The USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) also supported Miller Farm’s wind power installations.
Recently, the advantages of wind power have become evident in dairy and farming operations, which are energy-intensive and can often leverage significant on-site wind resources, according to Northern Power, the company that installed the turbines. The company says that it has seen a surge of interest in on-site power generation applications in the US.


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