Three of Central California’s oldest family-owned-and-operated fresh produce grower-shippers are embracing 21st century technology in the form of solar power systems.

Live Oak Farms, founded more than 90 years ago, is wrapping up installation of a roof-mounted solar array that is projected to offset 84% of energy costs at its Le Grand-based packing and cold storage operations and headquarters offices.

California’s solar power community continues growth

Courtesy Cenergy Power

“Sustainability has been a priority for Live Oak Farms ever since our first harvest,” said Bob Giampaoli, managing partner. “From our drip system irrigation systems to our minimal use of soil fumigants and now the installation of our solar power system, we feel we are doing our best to reduce our carbon footprint.”

The Live Oak Farms solar installation, designed and installed by Cenergy Power, Merced, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 15 million pounds annually, said Nader Yarpezeshkan, director of sales and marketing, and will produce an estimated 370,000 kilowatt hours of electric power annually. Live Oak Farms will recapture within four years its investment in the solar system, he said.

Live Oak Farms grows, packs, ships and markets bell peppers and tomatoes in addition to almonds, wheat and alfalfa.

Cenergy Power, a division of San Diego, Calif.-based BAP Power Corp., also is in the process of installing solar systems at fig grower-shippers, DeBenedetto Orchards, Chowchilla, and Fresno-based Henry Mesple Farms, Yarpezeshkan said. Figs are traditionally fresh packed in the field, but the DeBenedetto and Mesple solar systems will provide power for pumps that pull irrigation water from wells, he said.

The location of BAP Power Corp. was incorrect in the originial story.