(Nov. 3, 5:57 p.m.) The Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., was founded in 1893, but the company has adopted 21st century technology with the installation of a 5.5-acre solar electric system.

“Part of the company’s mission statement is to be good stewards of resources — the land, water, the community and the work force,” said Harold Edwards, president and chief executive officer.

The system, dedicated Oct. 28, is expected to generate two million kilowatt hours of electricity annually. The installation fixes the cost of electricity for Limoneira at 9 cents per kilowatt over the next 20 years, Edwards said.

That is a reduction of more than 30% from current rates, and those rates are expected to increase in the near future, he said.

“We should save about $750,000 a year in energy costs,” Edwards said.

Over the years, energy has loomed as one of the bigger line items on the company’s cost structure, Edwards said.

“It became an annual ritual to evaluate various forms of alternative energy and their potential application to Limoneira,” he said.

The design and installation of the solar power system, which is adjacent to Limoneira facilities, was handled by northern California-based Perpetual Power, which Edwards said was willing to guarantee a certain level of output annually.

That guarantee, coupled with rebates and attractive lease-purchase financing, signaled the go-ahead for the project, he said.

Limoneira grows lemons, avocados, oranges, specialty citrus and nuts on its 7,000 acres. It is a member of Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Limoneira looks to solar power to cut energy costs
An aerial view of The Limoneira Co.'s new solar electric farm in Santa Paula, Calif. Limoneira, a grower of lemons, avocados, oranges, specialty citrus and nuts, says the solar electric system represents a significant cost savings. “We should save about $750,000 a year in energy costs,” says company president and chief executive officer Harold Edwards.