Varsity Produce, Bakersfield, Calif., began using its new solar power system about two months ago.
The company added the 428.40 kilowatt Cenergy Power solar system to offset energy needs and reduce the plant’s carbon footprint.
Brent Rhodes, operations manager, said the system will power the onion-peeling processing equipment and cold storage facility that operate year round, as well as the packing shed, which runs seven months of the year.
The solar system should offset approximately 97% of the company’s utility bills and pay for itself within four years.
It should reduce the plant’s carbon footprint by more than 1,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
It’s still early to see major results in the company’s energy bills, but Rhodes is optimistic for the upcoming summer months.
“Once the summer heat comes around and solar (production) is at it’s peak of production, as is our onion operation, we should see some really good results,” he said in an email.
Rhodes said the only noticeable difference after adding the system is the 1 1/2 acres of solar panels next to the packing shed that are now visible.
The system will be connected to the company’s utility meter, and the solar power will be used primarily. In peak times, if the plant’s energy needs are greater that what the solar panels can provide, the rest of the power will come from the utility company automatically. No change should be noticeable in the power supply.