TURLOCK – Last week, TID interconnected the largest solar electric project in the District, a 518.5 kW array of photovoltaic panels atop the sheller at Grower Direct Nut Co. located in Hughson, California. The 2,530 solar panels are expected to generate approximately 800,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy, enough to provide almost all of the energy used by Grower Direct Nut Co. each year. SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a Silicon Valley-based manufacturer of high efficiency solar systems, designed and constructed the roof mounted solar photovoltaic arrays.
Grower Direct Nut Co. uses many natural resources to operate their business efficiently and will now begin to utilize the sun to supply almost all of the electricity needed to shell and cool the nuts they process. “It’s the right thing to do for the environment as well as control our future energy costs”, said Kevin Chiesa of Grower Direct Nut Co.
TID Customers that install solar are added to a Net Metering rate schedule. Customers continue to pay the customer charge, but their energy consumption is netted against the amount of energy they generate. If a customer ends the billing cycle generating more energy than they consume, the customer receives a credit for the kWh’s that they generated and sent to the TID grid. The amount credited for the kWh’s produced is at the same rate TID would have charged the customer.
In addition to installing solar, Grower Direct Nut Co. has also evaluated other energy efficiency options to reduce their overall energy consumption. A lighting retrofit is underway in which watt metal halide lighting is being replaced with fluorescent lighting. Occupancy sensors are also being installed for additional energy efficiency savings. They are also continuing to research the cost-effectiveness of retrofitting their dryers for additional energy savings. “Changing to meet the new challenges of tomorrow is a part of our family farming tradition”, said Ron Martella of Grower Direct Nut Co.
This solar project was made possible in part by a rebate from the Turlock Irrigation District. TID began promoting solar in 2006 by offering a residential rebate of $4.00/watt. In November 2007, the program was expanded to include a $2.80/watt rebate to non-residential customers. The District currently has 33 systems and 701 kW interconnected. An additional 18 applications have been approved. The District’s rebate program is structured so that the rebate amount will be reduced over time. As the cost of solar panels continues to decline, the need for a subsidy diminishes.
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Turlock Irrigation District, located in Turlock CA, is the first publicly owned Irrigation District providing irrigation water and power to residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural customers within its service area. TID has been in the retail electric business since 1923. TID, provides safe, low-cost, reliable energy to a growing customer base that today exceeds 98,000 home, farm, business, industrial and municipal accounts. TID also serves 5,800 irrigation customers covering approximately 150,000 acres of farmland. For more information about TID visit www.tid.com.
Grower Direct Nut Co., located in Hughson CA, is a grower, buyer and processor of delicious, healthy California walnuts. Established in 2004, the company goal is to seek out the most efficient way to harvest and process walnuts while providing superior quality and service to both its growers and customers alike.