UESUGI FARMS, SITE 1
“Vista Solar has met every single expectation we have had, if not exceeding every single expectation. They’ve done what they said they were going to do, and we know we can count on them for help for the next 20 years to ensure that the system keeps on producing clean solar energy.” – Pete Aiello Owner of Uesugi Farms
Dead Agriculture Lands Revived
In the agriculture business, every acre is precious. But after several unsuccessful attempts to grow crops in the southwestern section of Uesugi Farms’ land, it became clear that the land was simply unusable. “Even the weeds have trouble growing back there because they’re just drowning in water,” said Aiello. However, the general manager had an inspiration. While the excess of water made growing crops impossible, a solar power system could function just fine. Aiello had already researched solar power and other renewable energy options such as hydrogen fuel cells and wind power for several years. The long, successful track record of solar power had earned his confidence, and the timing, financing, and the right solar vendor finally all came together in 2012.
A Trustworthy Partner
Vista Solar had been in touch with Uesugi Farms for more than a year and had developed one of the most essential elements of business: trust. “They were honest. They had integrity. They really took the time to educate us. They showed us how solar works, how the financing works, and how the incentives play into it,” said Aiello. Furthermore, Vista Solar found the right financial partner and solar incentives so that Uesugi Farms could go solar with zero capital outlay and be cash-flow positive from the start.
With the financing secured, Vista Solar designed and installed a ground-mounted solar solution ideal for the harsh agricultural environment. The solar system soars six feet overhead with rigorously tested Canadian Solar modules generating electricity while shading 28 Refusol, 3-phase, transformer-less, string inverters mounted on the solar supports below. Pole-mounted transformers were used to push the solar electricity nearly a mile back to the packaging and chiller buildings on the property – making it one of the longest continuous private wire runs in CA.
A Long-term Energy Asset
Finishing on budget in February 2013, Vista Solar completed the 792 kW solar system and started spinning the farm’s electric meters backwards. The system is expected to produce 1.25 million kWh in the first year and offset 91.5% of Uesugi Farms’ electrical demand. This energy will provide approximately $138,000 of utility savings in the initial year of operation, and it is forecast to save the company more than $2.6 million over the next twenty-five years. That’s a powerful hedge against volatile utility prices, which allows Uesugi
Farms to keep more of its hard-earned money focused on its business. No longer a liability, the southwestern corner of Uesugi Farms is now prime solar power real estate.
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