Packers add solar panels to trim electricity bills

07/06/2012 02:22:00 PM
Cynthia David

“By offsetting most of the electricity, we’ll be generating close to 1.24 million kilowatt hours annually and help them realize about $138,000 in savings per year,” he said.

On California’s border with Arizona, the sun powers 15% of Datepac’s packinghouse, which packs more than 10 million pounds of dates a year for the Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association.

Datepac president Ed O’Malley said the 2005 project, which didn’t benefit from today’s subsidies, was only possible because growers worked together to make it happen.

“It takes a lot of up-front capital to invest in solar energy, and some people may find it difficult to raise that capital,” O’Malley said.

“When you think about it,” he said, “it’s easier to pay your energy bill every month than it is to invest $700,000 or so on a rooftop solar array and wait for the pay back in four years.

“You have to take the long view.”


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