(June 4) LOST HILLS, Calif. — California’s largest grower and processor of pistachios and almonds has scored a farming first by building the state’s largest single-site agriculture solar energy plant.

Los Angeles-based Paramount Farms Inc. built the 1.1-megawatt solar energy plant on eight acres adjacent to the company’s pistachio processing plant in the San Joaquin Valley.

Stewart Resnick, chairman and owner of Roll International Corp., whose holdings include Paramount Farms, said the reasons for building the plant were both ethical and financial.

“This corporation has a commitment to the whole green movement,” Resnick said.

Roll International also owns Paramount Citrus Association, Delano, which shipped 12 million boxes of citrus under the Sunkist label last season. The company now markets its own citrus.

The solar energy plant represents a $7.5 million investment. Resnick said with tax credits, rebates and accelerated depreciation, the corporation would recapture the investment in about eight years.

Paramount Farms joins a slowly growing list of California agriculture firms using solar energy. In 2005, P-R Farms Inc., Clovis, installed a 1-megawatt system at the company’s packinghouse near Fresno.

Exeter-based clamshell manufacturer Peninsula Packaging Co. unveiled its seven-acre solar energy array last winter.

Terra Linda Farms, Riverdale, also joined the solar parade in May.

Unlimited Energy, Fresno, installed a 60,000-watt solar system at the family-owned company’s onion packing shed.

Tommie Nellon, chief executive officer of Unlimited Energy, said the solar array at Terra Linda Farms would provide up to 90% of the energy the onion packing shed uses during the four to five months it operates annually. Pacific Gas & Electric would pay the company for unused energy produced during nonoperating months.

Paramount Farms flips switch on solar energy plant
Stewart Resnick, chairman and owner of Roll International Corp., Los Angeles, presides at the unveiling of the company’s $7.5 million solar plant adjacent to its Paramount Farms pistachio processing plant near Lost Hills, Calif. Resnick said Roll International is committed to the green movement.