Castle Rock Vineyards should rack up significant energy savings starting this summer.

The Delano, Calif.-based firm removed 4 acres of orange trees and leveled ground in late May where it plans to install more than 5,600 solar panels that should provide 90% of the electrical power for the company’s offices and cold rooms, said Jim Llano, sales manager.

Castle Rock creates its own power source

Tom Burfield

A worker installs conduits that will carry electricity generated by 5,600 solar panels to be installed by mid-July to the main electrical box at the Castle Rock Vineyards facilities in Rich-grove, Calif. Solar panels should provide 90% of the electrical power for the company’s offices and cold rooms, says Jim Llano, sales manager.

Next, workers sank foundation posts for the panels and installed electrical ground lines to carry power to the adjacent facilities.

Llano expects to complete installation of the 1-megawatt system by the end of July.

The project was prompted by skyrocketing energy costs, especially in the Delano area, he said.

“Our rates are going to be increasing 33% this year,” he said, “a huge cost for us to absorb.”

The company said that energy credits received when the plant is largely offline during the first half of the year will counter the anticipated rate increase.

“There is a big push by the government to go green as much as possible,” Llano said. “The solar panel project makes sense for us in many different ways.”

The Richgrove, Calif., location generally operates from late June until the end of the year and starts shutting down cold rooms as its shipping program winds down.

Besides Castle Rock, some coastal wineries and a handful of other grower-shippers already have or plan to launch similar programs, Llano said.

“It’s a net advantage for us to be more self-sufficient in energy usage and production,” he said.