Georgia corn grower powers packinghouse with solar energy

07/03/2012 01:00:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

A south Georgia sweet corn grower is using the sun to help power its packinghouse.

Bainbridge, Ga.-based Green Circle Farms which does business as Circle C Farms Inc., is one of the state’s first packinghouses to invest in solar power.

Green Circle/ Hannah SolarBainbridge, Ga.’s Green Circle Farms is powering its corn packinghouse with solar power.Green Circle, which sells corn through Belle Glade, Fla.-based S. M. Jones & Co. Inc., uses the couple hundred solar panels on the packinghouse roof to power a portion of its electrical needs, said Greg Calhoun, Green Circle’s owner.

Calhoun said installing the system seemed to be the right thing to do.

“We understand a lot of these big companies want to see people going green, so they have something they can talk about and advertise to bring customers to them, knowing the producers of product they’re using are doing what they need to do,” Calhoun said. “We think it’s our responsibility to do what we can to support it (the environment).”

Charles Hall, executive director of the La Grange-based Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, said he’s not aware of any other Georgia packinghouses using solar panels.

Green Circle/ Hannah SolarSolar panels fill the roof of the packinghouse of corn grower Green Circle Farms in Bainbridge, Ga.“This is good and there may be some opportunities for other growers to look at solar as an alternative energy source,” he said. “I’m not sure if there are issues that have prevented people from doing that. From a packing facility standpoint, they’re only operating that operation for a certain percentage of the year. Green Circle obviously figured a way to find a return on investment, which is one of the challenges.”

From 14,000 acres, Green Circle this season plans to pack 750,000 wirebound crates and returnable plastic containers of yellow, white and bicolor corn. Calhoun said the season finished in early July but plans to ship through July 6, a little earlier than normal because of dry conditions.

Calhoun said he became interested in solar power after seeing its successful use at his peanut processor, American Peanut Growers in Donaldsonville, Ga.



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Greg Kelly    
Georgia  |  July, 04, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Installed by Hannah Solar. Www.hannahsolar.com 404-275-6701.

Mike    
Florida  |  July, 05, 2012 at 03:03 PM

So it is a cooler, but the article says nothing about how the power is being used. I will assume for lighting or operating security cameras. The payback for solar is the real question and it appears to be up in the air.

Beth Bond    
Atlanta  |  July, 09, 2012 at 12:52 PM

The power is being used to offset growing electric bills. By placing the panels on his roof Mr. Calhoun not offsets some of his usage, he also adds an additional layer of insulation on his roof as the panels capture the heat instead of it landing on the roof. Expected pay off is about three years and after that he will have a free electricity for the rest of his life time. As utility costs rise, the more money he saves. Considering most utilities are seeing rate increases each year, this is not only a pragmatic solution for today it's also a way to offset future rate increases.

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